The question now is how smart cities will be implemented, not whether this new urban technology project will move forward. Will the smart cities objects, systems, and platforms, and the data that are derived from and empowers them, be owned and governed by private companies or by cities themselves? New technologies enable optimization—in terms of efficiency or quality. But this optimization is predicated on the ability of institutions or firms to absorb new technologies, not simply to invent them. The growing role of cities in providing a platform for innovation creates new opportunities for firms as well as for cities.
Jennifer Clark is Professor and Head of the City and Regional Planning Section at the Knowlton School of Architecture in the College of Engineering at The Ohio State University. She specializes in urban and regional economic development planning. Dr. Clark’s most recent book is Uneven Innovation: The Work of Smart Cities (Columbia University Press, 2020).