Back to TopBack to Top

Balancing smart city initiatives


November 7, 2016

Effective smart government requires a holistic and balanced view. Most of the “smart city” case studies we see these days are either focused on a single silo like smart transportation. Cities that implement wide-ranging technology initiatives appear to justify costs based on faith that there is a return. In other words, technology alone will result in positive impact. Yet, it is clear smart city initiatives without citizen engagement, sustainable financing, changes in processes and improvements in civil service capacity are doomed to fail.

That’s why smart city planning and execution could benefit from a balanced approach – the “balanced scorecard.” This technique enables government leaders to balance citizen, financial, internal process and civil service capacity. It also enables linking characteristics among categories for more effective planning, execution and performance. Many governments have used scorecard concepts to track performance. These are rarely balanced. For example, there is no way to quickly diagnose the failure to achieve a performance indicator of citizen service delivery wait times in traditional scorecards. The balanced scorecard can show the costs per unit of outcome (finance), the processes that need to be changed (internal processes), or the training required (learning & growth.)


This approach to the balanced scorecard includes the desired smart concept. Governments can strive to enable smart and engaged citizens, make more effective financial decisions, create performance metrics and enable the public service. The “citizen” measures can include engagement, service delivery and overall well-being. Measures of inclusive growth and environmental sustainability tie to some of the most critical public policy decisions that city, regional, and national governments face.

“Finance” measures can include planning and value for money measures over a long period of time. Many smart government financing decisions are based on short-term thinking and are not financially sustainable. “Internal processes” can focus on citizen engagement and open government to determine what is most important. Techniques such as design thinking, agile development and PDIA can be used to enable smart finance and smart citizens. And, the “smart public service” is enabled through capacity building and talent management where public service reform matches incentives with smart government goals.

I’m a big fan of the balanced scorecard as a management tool. There is so much irrelevant or out-of-context data available to decision-makers. The balanced scorecard is an ideal decision-making framework for smart government.


The following two tabs change content below.
Doug Hadden

Doug Hadden

Executive Vice President, Innovation at FreeBalance
Doug is responsible for identifying new global markets, new technologies and trends, and new and enhanced internal processes. Doug leads a cross-functional international team that is responsible for developing product prototypes and innovative go-to-market strategies.

Leave a Reply