Defining the Role of the Smart-City Manager: An Analysis of Responsibilities and Skills

This study examines the competencies that managers of smart cities need and discusses the challenges they must overcome.
July 25, 2017

Defining the Role of the Smart-City Manager: An Analysis of Responsibilities and Skills

Fania Valeria Michelucci, Alberto De Marco, Adriano Tanda

Journal of Urban Technology Volume 23, Issue 3, 2016

Description:

This paper offers the following definition of what a "smart city" is, while acknowledging that it is still evolving: "Cities are smart when the city government has the ability to optimize the exploitation of both tangible and intangible assets, enhance citizens' quality of life, boost resource productivity, and solve emerging problems." The goal of this study is to survey and analyze the current responsibilities and skills of smart-city managers with an eye toward developing appropriate curricula and training for future administrators of smart cities. A survey of smart-city managers and politicians in Italian cities allowed the authors to identify the critical competencies needed for the role.

The paper also discusses the challenges the smart-city manager must overcome, including the integration of data from disparate sources with varying quality and standards and the need for a project-oriented approach while simultaneously trying to maintain functional authority levels and interdepartmental collaboration.

Findings:

The study found that smart city managers "do not operate exclusively in any individual domain, but overcome the boundaries of silos and are responsible for projects in both the hard and soft domains" of smart cities. Thus, the smart-city manager must govern initiatives by integrating elements from multiple sectors.

Why this is important to practitioners:

When embarking on a smart-city initiative and recruiting a smart city manager, cities have begun hiring candidates "with a strategic vision, knowledge, and responsibilities that cross several smart city domains." The paper recommends that cities emphasize the organizational and managerial aspects of the role of the smart city manager when hiring, rather than focusing only on technological experience. The paper concludes that main proficiencies that smart city managers must have include city planning capabilities, legal competencies, soft skills and financial resource management ability.

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