The role of the mayor in a smart city (I)

It is the buzzword. The pinnacle of technology. The city of the future, where everything blends in the big picture. It is called smart city. But how far are we today from it ? What resources do we need to achieve the dream ? And what are the smart cities of today ?


There are many questions and the answers lay on the mayor’s desk. That guy is the king of the city. King of the budget, king of the infrastructure, king of the investments. A smart city cannot exist without a smart mayor. He needs to have a long term vision, a mid-term strategy and short term tactics.  All three contribute to the success of the city.

Long term vision. Such a vague concept. What is vision ? What is long term ? Is it 10 years ? Is it 20 ? Is it 50 ?


The answer depends on the degree of involvement of the mayor. If the mayor is weak, the future will be weak. If the mayor is alone, the city will be isolated. A smart city needs smart people, i.e. a bunch of guys with guts, brains and connections (networking). The last ingredient is the very foundation of the long term vision. Even if the mayor ends his term and a new first citizen is appointed by the population, he or she needs to embrace the same vision.

Termites are insects that build huge mounds. The construction takes several life spans of the average termite. The smart city is similar. A new tram line can take 3-7 years. In some cases, it can take more than 10 years.  The mayor is no longer the same, the budgets change, but the general directions stay the same.


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