- U.S. cities must make significant progress in collaboration and leadership to attain the status of "smart city," according to a rating released Thursday through a partnership between Leading Cities and Bright Cities.
- The rating evaluated 24 U.S. cities — those involved in the now-shuttered 100 Resilient Cities program — on 45 indicators across 10 dimensions of a smart city: governance, economy, education, entrepreneurship, environment, health, mobility, security, technology and energy. None of the cities scored higher than a B+.
|A+, A, A-||None|
El Paso, TX
|D+, D, D-||None|
- A lack of federal smart city funding and robust open data also attributed to the unfavorable ratings, according to Leading Cities President and CEO Michael Lake.
Contrary to a traditional rating of cities, this scorecard, announced at the inaugural Smart City Expo Atlanta event, was strategically designed to assess how each city is individually progressing in its smart city goals. By grading on an A+ to D- scale, the organizations illustrated room for improvement among all of the analyzed cities.
"The problem I have [with rankings] — no matter how bad cities are globally, or whatever the sample size is — someone still occupies the number one spot. It kind of gives this false sense of, 'Oh, that's what a smart city is?' But that’s not necessarily what a 'smart' city is," Lake told Smart Cities Dive in an interview.
To Lake, a smart city is one that prioritizes inclusion, learns from its peers and keeps residents as involved stakeholders in city operations, particularly through open data. Lake explained that the rating methodology was based on open data sets from the 24 analyzed cities, therefore if a city collected data that wasn't open, it didn't get credit.
Lake also emphasized that the measure of a "smart city" is always evolving. To conduct the ratings, Leading Cities and Bright Cities created their "ideal city" based on the highest actual achievements that have been made in U.S. cities, not on "fictitious" measures (such as a 100% success rate in deploying accessible broadband, for example). The cities were rated against this ideal city for their scores.
The organizations acknowledge that leadership and funding from federal government has a significant impact on the success of smart city initiatives. They suggest the ratings highlight how the U.S. is lagging behind global cities in efforts to be smarter and more equitable, due in part to a lack of federal involvement.
"We cannot expect cities alone to achieve this. In less than 10 years, cities globally need to spend about $78 trillion in just maintaining existing infrastructure and whatnot," Lake said. "I see that as a huge opportunity, but collectively cities don’t have that kind of cash sitting on-hand."
The shuttering of 100 Resilient Cities could also throw a wrench in the progress cities are making toward smart city goals, however Lake assured that the group's exit from the industry will open doors for other organizations to step up and assist in new ways.
Aside from collaboration between public, private and nonprofit sectors, Lake said the most successful cities will allow citizens to exercise their voices and play a role in decision-making.
"It's only by engaging folks outside of city government that you get the breadth of perspective that's truly valuable," Lake said.