What is a Smart City?

By Rachel Eckert, SLED consultant

Most of us who have been in and around the state, local and education space (SLED) have seen the term “smart city” more times than we can count. A simple search for “what is a smart city” returns dozens of examples, definitions and solution sheets that explain specific implementations being done under the heading of “smart city.” In a nutshell, a smart city is one that aims to improve the delivery of services to its citizens using technology.

That’s a simple definition and easy enough to understand, but, how does a city become smart? What technologies do they use to be smart? How does a vendor approach a city to make it smarter? And when you add in the typical SLED wrinkle with each city being its own fiefdom, finding a common definition and a strategy to target a smart city is understandably difficult.

Let’s dive into that definition a bit deeper. Cities provide all sorts of services to their citizens including public safety, transportation, health care and more. Each year, cities see their populations grow, thus increasing the number of people to whom they must now provide those public safety, transportation or health care services. The problem is that most cities aren’t seeing the same increase in budgets, leaving them with taxed resources and an ever-growing mission.

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