Smart City Strategic Planning in North America: Learnings for London

6 January 2020 Heather Dailey Author avatar
Emily Middleton, Master in Public Policy candidate, Harvard Kennedy School of Government Presented to: Theo Blackwell and Stephen Lorimer, Greater London Authority May 2018. Written as an input for “A Smarter London Together”, the Smart London Listening Exercise. Reference: This report has three aims: first, to present the latest trends in smart city strategic planning in North America, second, to identify the main themes in the digital priorities of these cities. Third, it aims to highlight learnings from other cities that are relevant for London. It is based exclusively on the experiences of seven cities in the United States and Canada: New York City, Toronto, Boston, Kansas City, Vancouver, Montréal and the City of West Hollywood. The research was conducted primarily through interviews (chiefly with senior city officials in technology and innovation departments) and by reviewing the cities’ strategy documents. This report describes six recent trends in the smart city strategic planning process and highlights on five main themes in the digital priorities of cities. The report concludes with some take-aways for the Smart London Board. First, thoughtful phasing – combined with built-in capacity to regularly iterate the Smart London plan – can help mitigate uncertainties. Second, meaningful engagement with citizens, tech companies and other city agencies requires diverse methods and experimentation. Third, periodic digital master plans may not always be necessary, as digital becomes more strongly embedded throughout the GLA family and across boroughs.  Finally, Smart London’s five priorities are shared by other cities – as concrete initiatives are scoped out in the new Plan, London should look to learn from and partner with cities with similar agendas.

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