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Smart cities
Smart cities

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2.2 Smart city strategies

A photograph of a canal and bridge in Birmingham, England.
Figure 4 Birmingham.

The style of a smart city strategy depends on the priorities and aspirations of whoever leads the work, as shown in these three case studies.

In 2013 Birmingham City Council published its Smart City Vision statement, and subsequently the Birmingham Smart City Roadmap [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] has been developed with a group of city stakeholders. The roadmap lays out principles and describes an initial range of activities for the first three years. It sets out some 35 actions that are intended to influence the city’s approach to creating a sustainable and better future for its citizens. Identified challenges include unemployment, the skills gap, health inequalities, effective mobility and carbon reduction targets, and are grouped into three themed areas: technology and place, people and economy. The actions are being delivered in collaboration with business, community and public sectors. There is also a Birmingham Smart City blog, which is run by the community as a place to share ideas and developments for making Birmingham a smarter city.

The Chicago Technology Plan, published in 2013, highlights 28 initiatives across five broad strategies that are designed to enable Chicago to realise its vision of becoming the city where technology fuels opportunity, inclusion, engagement and innovation. The plan’s stated main purpose is to contribute to the quality of life, employment opportunities and business growth in the city. It declares that ‘In Chicago, we believe that the power of technology is driven by the people who use and benefit from it’ (Chicago Technology Plan, 2013). Two of the five strategies are foundational, enabling Chicago’s residents and businesses to be digitally connected and engaged. Three growth strategies then build on this foundation of technological strength.

The Dubai Plan 2021 describes the future of Dubai through holistic and complementary perspectives, starting with the people and the society. It has six themes, each of which highlights a group of strategic developmental aims for the city. One theme, ‘The place: a smart and sustainable city’, focuses on building fully connected and integrated infrastructure that ensures easy mobility for all residents and tourists, and provides easy access to all economic centres and social services, in line with the world’s best cities. It addresses the importance of sustainability in managing against Dubai’s future growth by: ensuring the availability of clean energy sources; protecting natural resources such as soil, water and air; and promoting sustainable consumption. It examines the urban environment of the city and highlights the need to adopt the highest standards of safety (Dubai Plan 2021, 2015).

Activity 2 Considering Birmingham, Chicago, Dubai and Amsterdam as case studies

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

What do you think about the smart city strategies and roadmaps from Birmingham, Chicago and Dubai? Have a think about the vision they set and their partnership approaches.

Would any of these be particularly successful at engaging citizens?

Is creating a smart city strategy, or roadmap, a useful process or do you think it limits creativity, innovation and enterprise?

What are your views on Amsterdam’s approach to developing its smart city programme?

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