Back to TopBack to Top

Governance Challenge in Smart Cities and Smart Governments


November 30, 2016

My previous post asserted that ‘the ‘smart” governance opportunity is almost unprecedented.’ Despite the hype surrounding the Internet of Things and Smart Cities, “smart” is not an easy journey. That’s because of the multiple dimensions of problems and challenges that face leaders that are often contradictory.



  1. Governing Entity: smart government and smart city funding and execution extends through multiple tiers and territories across multiple initiatives = coordination governance challenge
  2. Governance Concept:  smart initiatives can rely on representative, participatory and hybrid structures = social and cultural structure challenge
  3. Program Focus: smart initiatives can originate from government leaders, from citizens or a hybrid approach = experts and cognitive surplus mobilization challengechange management challenge
  4. Goal Focus: smart initiatives often require trade-offs among economic growth, environmental sustainability, equity and resilience goals = compromise and trade-off challenge
  5. Measurement Focus: smart city initiatives, in particular, have positive and negative impacts beyond the city where indirect impacts are much harder to measure = inclusive measurement challenge
  6. Financing: smart initiative financing is complex often requiring partners that result in changing the lead governing entity and financing rules = coordination risk/reward challenge
  7. Financing Dichotomy: the financing challenge is compounded by the reality of high public debt that reduces government ability to borrow despite projected future returns = long-term accrual vs. short-term expediency challenge or quick wins vs. sustainable impact challenge
  8. Financing Justification: although efficiency in government services is the easiest to measure and provides likely short-term gains, government effectiveness and innovation are more lucrative, but far harder to predict in advance = cost/benefit modeling challenge
  9. Security Concern: although all smart domains (transportation, education, health, waste etc.) can have contradictory effects, there is no public policy concern like smart public security security that can be seen as surveillance that impinges on privacy = security vs. privacy challenge
  10. Data Approach: smart initiatives generates data that can be used to generate government revenue or generate private sector growth through open data = short-term revenue vs. long-term economic value add and long-term revenue challenge

These are only 10 of the challenges faced by governments. Good governance initiatives to improve planning, citizen engagement, and financial management is part of the solution.

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