Subsidizing Uneven Innovation: Smart Cities and Inclusive Economic Development

Authors: Jennifer Clark*, Georgia Institute of Technology
Topics: Economic Geography, Urban and Regional Planning, Urban Geography
Keywords: inclusive innovation, economic geography, regional development, smart cities
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Maryland B, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Increasing co-location of innovation and production functions is characteristic of the knowledge economy. For design-intensive and technology-driven industries, the geographic distance between innovation and production is shrinking. The smart cities industry is one such design-intensive and technology-driven industry. Further, the industry defines itself with intentional geographic specificity --- as urban. And, the information generated by and in cities determines the design of smart cities products and services as well as the primary markets for them --- cities thus sit on both sides of the production equation. This paper analyzes how the smart cities industry is built on a highly dense pool of geographically located data points containing layers of known or knowable information on individual and institutional characteristics. Cities are essential to the industry because these dense, definable, and administratively manageable locations provide layers of ever-increasing specificity --- more identifiers with which to tailor product design and segment the market. Thus, cities simultaneously subsidize both the production of smart cities objects, systems, and platforms and the markets for them. In traditional regional economic development practice, cities and regions subsidize economic activities that promise jobs and revenues. If there is no clear connection between production and place, then the argument for subsidy falls apart. This paper examines whether the city-scale subsidization of the smart cities industry, principally through open access to data and infrastructure, is indeed part of an effective economic development strategy or, if alternatively, cities should rethink the governance of smart cities activities and practices within their jurisdictions.

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