Digital Cities: Empowering innovation through effective governance
2 min read

Digital Cities: Empowering innovation through effective governance

Empowering innovation through effective governance is the fourth and final part of our series looking at unlocking the potential of digital cities.

In previous reports, we looked at the role played by strategy in planning and managing a digital city, after which we showed how a people-centric approach can drive digital innovation and create value for all in the city of the future, before finally examining how connected digital ecosystems are unlocking potential in the built environment. What all these reports have shown in detail is the rapid advancements in technology and innovation that are transforming our cities dramatically, with major impacts on all areas of life, including the economy, the environment, safety and security, social infrastructure and more. But for technology to deliver a net positive for society, implementing effective and responsive governance at all levels will be key.

That means not just understanding the role of technology in the city of the future, but also developing strategies, frameworks and policies to manage its impact for the good of all citizens and ensure long-term, sustainable development. Empowering innovation through effective governance explores the role digital plays in enabling better outcomes at all levels of smart city governance. In particular, how digital data is being used to allow faster and more effective decision-making, addressing both value creation and risk management, while also nurturing a culture of transparency and trust. It also shows how governance in a smart city context cannot simply be focused on more traditional aspects such as control and compliance; it must also encourage innovation across society and deliver true collaboration between all city stakeholders.

Throughout this report, you will see real-world examples of how this is already happening, highlighting the ways in which effective digital governance is allowing countries across the world to advance their smart city credentials. These not only include well-documented examples such as Dubai and Singapore, but also new and exciting large-scale projects, including NEOM in Saudi Arabia and Estonia’s X-Road initiative, alongside more targeted efforts in places such as Los Angeles, Baltimore and Stockholm, which suggests that successful digital governance requires not just investment but also ambition and imagination.

As we move into an era where digital technology — artificial intelligence in particular — will play an increasingly central role in the management, delivery and impact of city services, it is vital that appropriate governance structures are in place. If governance does not catch up and then keep pace with digital innovation, we may find that whereas we were striving for digital optimization, we have become the victims of digital exploitation. There is no better time than now to address the critical issue of sound governance in the ever-expanding realm of digital.

Digital cities series