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Thinking about Smart Cities: The Travels of a Policy Idea that Promises a Great Deal, but So Far Has Delivered Modest Results

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  • Amy K. Glasmeier

    () (Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA)

  • Molly Nebiolo

    () (Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA)

Abstract

This communication explores the unique challenge of contemporary urban problems and the technologies that vendors have to solve them. An acknowledged gap exists between widely referenced technologies that city managers utilize to optimize scheduled operations and those that reflect the capability of spontaneity in search of nuance–laden solutions to problems related to the reflexivity of entire systems. With regulation, the first issue type succumbs to rehearsed preparation whereas the second hinges on extemporaneous practice. One is susceptible to ready-made technology applications while the other requires systemic deconstruction and solution-seeking redesign. Research suggests that smart city vendors are expertly configured to address the former, but less adept at and even ill-configured to react to and address the latter. Departures from status quo responses to systemic problems depend on formalizing metrics that enable city monitoring and data collection to assess “smart investments”, regardless of the size of the intervention, and to anticipate the need for designs that preserve the individuality of urban settings as they undergo the transformation to become “smart”.

Suggested Citation

  • Amy K. Glasmeier & Molly Nebiolo, 2016. "Thinking about Smart Cities: The Travels of a Policy Idea that Promises a Great Deal, but So Far Has Delivered Modest Results," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(11), pages 1-11, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:8:y:2016:i:11:p:1122-:d:81863
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Dejan R. Ostojic & Ranjan K. Bose & Holly Krambeck & Jeanette Lim & Yabei Zhang, 2013. "Energizing Green Cities in Southeast Asia : Applying Sustainable Urban Energy and Emissions Planning," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15931, June.
    2. Cohen, Barney, 2004. "Urban Growth in Developing Countries: A Review of Current Trends and a Caution Regarding Existing Forecasts," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 23-51, January.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Trencher, Gregory, 2019. "Towards the smart city 2.0: Empirical evidence of using smartness as a tool for tackling social challenges," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 117-128.
    2. Fromhold-Eisebith, Martina & Eisebith, Günter, 2019. "What can Smart City policies in emerging economies actually achieve? Conceptual considerations and empirical insights from India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 1-1.
    3. Si Ying Tan & Araz Taeihagh, 2020. "Smart City Governance in Developing Countries: A Systematic Literature Review," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(3), pages 1-29, January.
    4. Paul Pierce & Francesca Ricciardi & Alessandro Zardini, 2017. "Smart Cities as Organizational Fields: A Framework for Mapping Sustainability-Enabling Configurations," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(9), pages 1-21, August.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    urban development; smart city; sustainability;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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