Smart Governance of Sustainable Cities (SmartGov)

Duration: 08/15 – 08/19

Though the potential benefits of ICTs in promoting more efficient governance in cities is widely recognised, these approaches are still not well integrated into urban management approaches. Furthermore, relatively little is known about the effectiveness of particular ‘smart’ approaches in different contexts.

Smart Governance of Sustainable Cities (SmartGov) focuses on three case study cities in Brazil (Curitiba), the Netherlands (Utrecht) and the UK (Glasgow) – all countries with established capacity in smart urbanism – to look at the ways that new data sources such as social media, the internet and citizen sensors are informing decision making on urban policy, infrastructure and investment. Through engagement with local communities and researchers, the project will draw out the opportunities and drawbacks of these technologies, with a particular focus on social inclusion.

All three national teams have direct experience of participating in and leading international research consortia. They have already collaborated on a number of academic activities, with the UK and Netherlands team collaborating for over 15 years in the ‘e-Government’ Study Group of European Group of Public Administration, resulting in joint publications and the provision of topic specific doctoral training. Further, all three partners have collaborated through the International Research Symposium on Public Management, and engaged in other relevant conferences. The findings will help shed light on the important question of when smart approaches to urban governance are appropriate, and give examples of the ways in which citizens can participate in the co-production of services/public policy, bringing influence to decision-making and engaging in new forms of ‘smart governance’.

By comparing the development of ‘smart technologies’ in different national urban contexts, the project seeks to identify key socio-technical ingredients for the successful implementation of sustainable urban ‘smart governance’. Comparative analysis will take place of ‘smart governance’ in different organisational, institutional and political contexts, looking closely at the infrastructure, economy and poverty in the three case study cities.

The project will make a significant contribution to developing knowledge through blending two theoretical traditions, urban studies and e-governance, into a synthesised context sensitive socio-technical approach to understanding and operationalising the ‘smart governance’ of sustainable cities.

Project website 

Project Twitter

William Webster (Principal Investigator, Professor)
Douglas Robertson, (Co-Investigator, Professor)
Clare Holland (Public Relations Officer)
Albert Meijer (Project Co-ordinator)
Ank Michels (Co-promoter)
Stan Geertman, Utrecht University (Second Promoter)
Hans Sakkers (Head of Department of Public Affairs, City of Utrecht)
Maria Alexandra Cunha (Principal Investigator, Fundação Getulio Vargas)
Eduardo Diniz (Co-Investigator)
Marie Anne Macadar (Co-Investigator)
Paolo Roberto Miranda (Municipal Secretary, Secretariat of Information and Technology, Municipality of Curitiba)

Coordination of frequent multi-stakeholder meetings between local government officials, researchers and communities in case study cities.

Series of outreach events including national conferences, virtual conferences, and a virtual ‘citizen summit’.
Academic articles, publications and conference presentations on: (1) a context-sensitive theory of ‘smart governance’ on the basis of a structured literature review; (2) the success of ‘smart governance’ and contributions to sustainability in the context of the three case study cities; (3) comparison of the research findings to redevelop the theory of ‘smart governance’, and to further enhance our theoretical understanding of ‘smart governance’ in context; (4) to develop a research-based ‘smart governance’ knowledge system for engaging citizens with ICTs, to be co-produced with urban managers from the three case study cities to ensure its practical value.

Creation of an interactive web platform to disseminate findings and act as a live knowledge system.

Creation of an interactive Twitter account to disseminate findings and to allow for engagement with practitioners, policy-makers and other interested parties.

Citizens and smart cities (22 May 2017)