The COVID-19 crisis is redefining the ways in which cities can leverage digitalisation to protect their residents and businesses. At a time of physical distancing, digital technologies are playing an increasingly critical role in relaying real-time life-saving information, ensuring the continuity of key public services and bridging social isolation. Smart city tools and applications can offer a powerful tool to support the shift from in-person to remote service delivery, mitigate the fallout of the crisis and empower new forms of local governance.
Over the past two decades, “smart city” initiatives proliferated around the globe as a way to build more efficient and liveable urban environments. While the smart city concept was initially supply-side driven, with the private sector taking the lead in defining both the problem and the solution, greater attention has been paid to the need to spread the benefits of smart cities across all segments of society. Time has come to take stock of smart city experimentations. Are smart cities just a buzzword, or do they really deliver better opportunities and well-being for all residents?
The policy paper on Smart Cities and Inclusive Growth highlights five takeaways:
- Smart city policies need to be designed, implemented and monitored as a means to improve people’s well-being.
- Building smart cities is not only the responsibility of cities or the private sector. National governments can and should play an enabling role to support the delivery of innovative solutions, capacity building and upscaling.
- Measuring smart city performance is a complex but essential task. A flexible framework could help assess key dimensions of efficiency, sustainability and inclusiveness.
- Smart cities also need smart governance. Regulatory models need to adapt to rapidly changing urban environments, for example by re-regulating rather than simply de-regulating, and leveraging public procurement.
- The active engagement of citizens and other stakeholders throughout the policy cycle is critical for the success of smart city initiatives.
Going forward, the OECD Programme on Smart Cities and Inclusive Growth will continue to assist local and national policy makers with data, best practices and policy recommendations to shape a healthier and brighter future for all- especially to tackle and rebound from the COVID-19 crisis.
For more information on the OECD Programme on Smart Cities and Inclusive Growth, visit our web page or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.