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Shaping smart cities: problem framing, vertical selection and governance in UK smart cities

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Holmes, H 
Burgess, G 


As urban governments adopt smart city strategies for delivering services, the need to understand how – and in whose interests - these strategies are formed is imperative. The selection of smart city verticals (or areas of focus for smart city programmes) within processes of urban governance has implications for which aspects of the urban agenda become prioritised. Through a study of seven UK smart cities, the paper investigates the framing of city problems, selection of smart verticals, and decision-making logics. The findings highlight that the selection of smart city verticals within the case study cities is rooted in four key considerations: challenges in service delivery, pragmatism, entrepreneurialism, and broader national and global events and policy agendas. These considerations transcend different spatial scales and governance arrangements, raising questions around democratic accountability and transparency. The study concludes that caution is warranted when framing smart cities as a solution to city problems



Smart Cities, problem-framing, verticals, governance, ethics, the United Kingdom, >

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Urban Geography

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Informa UK Limited
This research forms part of the Centre for Digital Built Britain’s (CDBB) work at the University of Cambridge within the Construction Innovation Hub, which brings together world-class expertise from the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), BRE and CDBB to transform the UK construction sector. The Construction Innovation Hub is funded by UK Research and Innovation through the Industrial Strategy Fund.