It’s Not About The Technology

  • Martine Tommis
  • 31 May 2018
  • Posted in: Energy & Environment, Science & Technology, Planning & Development

Smart cities are about making cities liveable with the help of technology.  It’s not about the technology.  For cities to be Smart, they need to be in the driving seat. Agile city organisations and ecosystems are vital to enable the opportunity that technology provides. 

In 2016 a group of ten cities embarked on a two-year journey to share their experiences about the structures and processes needed to successfully plan, finance, develop and manage a Smart city.  Their aim was to look beyond the core technologies, innovation and data which enable the smart city and to think about the issues beyond technology; the complex ecosystem of people, processes, politics and stakeholders that make up a Smart city. Watch our animation to see these ideas brought alive.

SmartImpact is a 30 month partnership project (2015-18) of ten cities, led by Manchester City Council and funded by the URBACT programme.  The work focuses on five themes.  An important part of the learning and exchange was for each city to deliver a local action plan, drawing on their experiences and reflecting the project themes. Collectively, these city action plans provide an insight into a new governance model for Smart cities. 

  • Data Governance & Integration for Smart Cities
  • Organisational Development for Smart Cities
  • Smart Finance & Procurement Initiatives for Smart Cities
  • Supportive Regulations & Incentives for Smart Cities
  • Supporting Local Innovation Ecosystems for Smart Cities

SmartImpact Themes

The project produced five papers which explore the issues in each of the themes along with a suite of case studies demonstrating Smart city activity – here are a few examples:

  • The Eindhoven Smart Society Data Charter lays out the principles the city wishes to promote to address the challenges that new technologies bring. It calls on all stakeholders to adopt, extend and reflect on these principles when building new or improving existing IoT and data infrastructures, platforms, services and applications.
  • Manchester Digital’s skills festival is run by Manchester Digital (MD), the independent trade association for digital and new media in Manchester. It is an annual four-day event, which brings those interested in a digital career together with education providers and digital and tech businesses from across the region to address both demand and supply issues.
  • Smart Dublin has embraced the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programme Pre- Commercial Procurement (PCP) initiative, supported by Enterprise Ireland. Since 2016 the city has committed €1M of funding to source innovative, low cost solutions to scale up cycling, address illegal waste, and monitor flood risk and to deliver wayfinding solutions. 23 companies have benefitted from funding and an opportunity to work alongside city teams.
  • ScaleUp Porto is a catalyst to support and develop the network of individuals and organisations that share the vision for the city‘s innovation ecosystem. The city is committed to promoting entrepreneurship and innovation to create a leading digital city and to support the economic competitiveness of the region, create employment and improve the quality of life for citizens.

To find ind out more about the SmartImpact journey and the partners Manchester City Council (UK), Dublin (IE), Eindhoven (NL), Guadalajara (ES), Miskolc (HU), Porto (PT), Smolyan (BG), Stockholm (SE), Suceava (RO) and Zagreb (HR).

For more information about the project you can also contact,

Martine Tommis, Manchester City Council,

  • smart cities
  • Article Author

About Martine Tommis

Martine's background is in voluntary and public sectors. She has over 18 years experience of externally funded and European projects and work within the Resources and Programmes Section of Manchester City Council. Martine is responsible for externally funded projects including future city and sustainability initiatives. Her focus is both programme …