Smart cities collect and use data to better manage resources, provide services and allocate assets. The increasing popularity of the smart city approach raises important governance questions about the different ways that technology can both foster and inhibit effective approaches to public health and sustainability. Not all smart cities have as their primary goal an inclusive and just transition toward development pathways that deliver economic, environmental and social well-being for current citizens as well as future generations. The importance of accelerating these sustainability transitions, however, has been made clear by the overwhelming economic and social vulnerability of marginalised groups, especially in densely populated urban areas, laid bare by the coronavirus pandemic.
This policy brief explores both the potential benefits and the negative consequences of the smart city approach to the governance of sustainability transitions. It offers case studies of rapidly changing approaches to smart cities, considering the changes that decision makers might implement to ensure that sustainability transitions in smart cities are also just and inclusive.