Benchmarking “Smart City” Technology Adoption in California: Developing and Piloting a Data Collection Approach

Research Team: Alison Post (lead), Karen Trapenberg Frick, Tanu Kumar, and Giselle Kristina Mendonça Abreu

UC Campus(es): UC Berkeley

Problem Statement: In recent years, “smart city” technologies have emerged that potentially allow cities, counties, and infrastructure agencies to manage their infrastructure assets more effectively, make their services more accessible to the public via web-based interfaces, and allow citizens to interface with new web- and mobile-based operators of alternative service providers, such as transportation network companies. Common examples include infrastructure-to-vehicle communications for autonomous vehicle systems, the automated sensing of bicyclists and pedestrians, and curbside management systems. There is no known dataset measuring the uptake of such technologies by government agencies and members of the public. While a few private consultancies have created smart city “indices” combining some data on technology adoption with social, environmental, and economic indicators, the underlying methodology and data are proprietary and coverage is limited to very large cities. Further, the combination of indicators into single indices renders the data of little use for understanding patterns of technology uptake; and, for understanding the implications of technology adoption for areas of public concern, such as public health, equity, environmental quality and energy use.

Project Description: This project reviews the academic literature and other sources on potential strengths, weaknesses, and risks associated with smart city technologies. No dataset was found that measures the adoption of such technologies by government agencies. To address this gap, a methodology was developed to guide data collection on the adoption of smart city technologies by urban transportation agencies and other service providers in California. The strategy used involved webscraping; interviews with experts, public agency, and senior level staff; and consultations with technology vendors. The approach was tested by assembling data on the adoption of smart city technologies in California by municipalities and other local public agencies.

Status: Completed

Budget: $24,921

Policy Brief(s):