date and time icon Thu, 09 Nov 2023

Edinburgh Napier researchers launch ‘smart city playbook’ for United Nations

A new United Nations resource to help cities around the world harness the benefits of digital technology has been completed and launched by researchers at Edinburgh Napier University.

‘Managing smart city governance’ is described as a playbook of practical recommendations to improve urban life with the use of cutting-edge tech.

Professor Luca Mora (pictured) and Dr Paolo Gerli from ENU’s Business School led the research team behind it, offering practical guidance to local and regional governments leading ‘smart city’ projects. Existing examples include real-time monitoring of traffic data, and online platforms to enhance civic participation.

UN Smart Cities Report CoverThe recommendations are intended to help develop more effective, inclusive, and sustainable urban areas, by showing how cities worldwide have been successfully dealing with the ethical, societal and environmental implications of digital technologies. 

The final publication draws on examples from Scotland for cities in other parts of the world to follow, including the collaborative Scottish Cities Alliance, the launch of the Scottish Digital Academy, and Glasgow’s Participatory Budgeting Evaluation Toolkit.

Professor Mora presented the final document to the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona on Wednesday.

Reacting to the launch, he said:

“This playbook draws together evidence-based advice, offering what we hope will be guidance that makes a positive difference around the world.

“Digital technology offers many opportunities for leaders of local and municipal governments – and it could revolutionise the quality of life for people who live in urban areas.

“The potential of these technologies is almost limitless, so it is important that they are put in place strategically and collaboratively to make the most of them.”

The playbook itself is based on a review of existing evidence, a survey of local government leaders from 250 municipalities across five continents, and interviews with 131 experts from 37 different countries. The findings are then split into three pillars: strategy, collaborative ecosystem and technology.

As well as ENU, the playbook was jointly produced by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), CAF – Development Bank of Latin America and the Caribbean, and Tallinn University of Technology.

Prof Luca Mora