Making Smart Communities: Streamlining Research, Development, and Deployment

Making Smart Communities: Streamlining Research, Development, and Deployment

by Jennifer Clark, Center for Urban Innovation

Jnnifer Clark US Energy and House Committee Image March 16, 2017 2

On March 16, 2017, I was invited by the US House Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection to provide expert testimony about the importance of smart communities to commerce and infrastructure systems. The Committee held the “hearing to examine the ways that communities across the country are tapping into new technology and collaborating with private sector companies to deliver new initiatives that will improve safety, increase efficiency and create opportunity.”

My oral testimony at the hearing may be viewed on the Committee’s website and is part of the Committee’s “Disrupter Series” on emerging technologies. My full written witness statement is included in this blog post and also available on the Committee’s website.

Written Testimony on Smart Communities

Formal Citation: United States. Cong. House. Committee on Energy and Commerce. Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection. Hearing on Disruptor Series: Smart Communities. March 16, 2017. 115th Cong. Washington: GPO 2017 (statement of Dr. Jennifer Clark, Associate Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology)


Smart communities are critical to the future economic competitiveness of the United States. Smart communities are not just an opportunity to increase economic growth but they present a challenge as well: Does the U.S. invest in intelligent infrastructure to build the 21st century economy and plan for what’s beyond?

The Federal Government has an important role to play in shaping the scope and scale of intelligent infrastructure investments going forward. In short, the Federal Government will decide the platform on which the national economy is built going forward and whether it meets 20th century standards or sets a new standard for the 21st century economy. Research universities have extensive experience partnering with industry and government on technology diffusion projects like smart communities. Research universities are built to test new technologies, evaluate alternatives, assess investments, evaluate economic impacts, measure distributional consequences, and certify processes, materials, products, and standards. As with any new enabling technology, research universities can play a role as a neutral third party with specialized technical expertise. Further, universities are embedded in local communities and have long-term working relationships with local and state governments and a vested interest in the presence of world class infrastructure in their own communities.

How to design and deploy intelligent infrastructure to efficiently and effectively support smart communities is one of the central questions going forward for the country as a whole and for local communities in specific. Building the replicable models and dissemination networks for the broad and sustained implementation of information and communication technologies into the next generation of national infrastructure is the opportunity and the challenge before us.


“Smart communities” have captured the attention of popular audiences and experts alike. The “Smart City” concept promises access and opportunity as well as expanded services and increased efficiencies for local communities. The idea promises simultaneously to generate new revenue via new markets, products, and services and to save money through new efficiencies and systems optimization.   Advocates argue that smart communities are more efficient, more sustainable, more profitable, and more inclusive.

Economic geographers have long studied innovation as part of the broader disciplinary project of mapping and analyzing the spatial distribution of economic activities within and across cities, regions, and countries.  In recent years technology and innovation have gained privileged positions of prominence in these industry analyses. Researchers particularly focused on processes of technology diffusion and how regional economic ecosystems absorb new technologies and incorporate them into existing complexes of firms, industries, and industrial specializations.  In other words, how incumbent systems incorporate new processes, products, materials, and actors.

Smart communities are a challenge and an opportunity for the U.S. The challenge is to proactively engage the declining, incumbent national infrastructure system and not merely repair it, but replace it, with an internationally competitive cyber-physical system which provides not only an opportunity for better services for citizens but a platform for a 21st century, high tech economy and beyond.

Smart Communities and US Economic Competitiveness

Smart communities are critical to the future economic competitiveness of the U.S. Over 90 percent of the country’s GDP is generated in metropolitan economies — in cities and their suburbs. Smart communities are not just an opportunity to increase economic growth and opportunity but they present a challenge as well: Does the U.S. invest in intelligent infrastructure to build the 21st century economy and plan for what’s beyond? Or, does the U.S. miss the moment when targeted investment in integrating information and communications technologies (ICT) into infrastructure systems could form the foundation of an “Industry 4.0” level cyber-physical systems. The state of U.S. infrastructure and amount of funding devoted to it undermines U.S. global leadership in smart communities innovation and implementation. The American Society of Civil Engineers’ latest report card ranked America’s infrastructure at a D+, requiring $3.6 trillion in investment. The question is how can the U.S. plan a smart communities future, and the research and development necessary to support it, when there is such a critical gap in incumbent infrastructure systems?

The economic opportunity presented by smart communities is three-fold. First, the data produced by intelligent infrastructure promises to increase the reliability of local government services and performance of infrastructure systems. The data paves the way for building interoperable and cross platform systems that build efficiencies and ultimately allow localities to provide higher quality services at a lower cost. The result is the opportunity to expand services and maintain more reliable and efficient systems ranging from waste management to transportation.

The second opportunity is that smart communities data systems can enhance and inform the strategic planning capacities of local communities — large and small — with real world (continuous and real time) data on how infrastructure and infrastructure systems are used by citizens and businesses and how the infrastructure is performing. Local communities, businesses, and citizens will be able to see how their community is operating rather than model its functions based on past performance.

Further, the sharing of data amongst smart communities partners and participants helps to build networks for diffusing policy strategies and technology models. These strategic partnerships form the foundation for the third economic opportunity that flows from smart communities: entrepreneurship and market leadership. The data generated by and for smart communities systems (and the systems that produce that data) form the foundation of new enterprises and new products and services and, as a consequence, function as platforms for further economic development.

“Intelligent Infrastructure”: Next Generation Services and Structures

The promise of “smart” or “intelligent” infrastructure is that it will increase resilience across domains of critical infrastructure systems by expanding capacities and building resiliency through increased interoperability. In other words, by moving from a collection of discrete infrastructure systems to truly interdependent infrastructure ecosystems, the efficient, effective, predictable, and adaptive delivery of services will increase as well.

Across disciplines ranging from engineering to computer science to innovation policy, intelligent infrastructures are increasingly seen as solutions to the “wicked” problems that face local governments. These problems include how to respond to both long term and short term threats to resilience: 1) strained resources spread across ever growing urban populations, 2) aging infrastructures and public services systems, 3) competitiveness in the global economy, and 4) acute human and environmental stressors.

In recent years, governments ranging from dense urban environments to rural communities have made significant investments in smart and connected communities (SCCs), leveraging the capacity of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to improve existing operations and develop new services. The resulting “intelligent infrastructure” is dependent on a layer of new technologies to collect and store data, combine data from both fixed and mobile sensing devices, integrate existing data sets, and report the status of the city to user groups including businesses, governments, and communities. These new data streams come from connected, self-reporting, sensing devices (e.g. the Internet of Things, or IoT), citizen contributions (e.g. crowdsourcing), and municipal and official sources (e.g. open government data). These new capacities contribute to an increasingly complex system of users, platforms, interests, and information—with profound implications for systems design and governance.

This infrastructure presents particular challenges because it is integrated both into and across different critical infrastructures. From water and electricity systems and across built, natural, and socio-economic environments, robust intelligent infrastructure is increasingly required for the secure and resilient operations of government services and systems. As a consequence, this infrastructure-of-infrastructures presents a unique problem for critical infrastructure: how to integrate the capabilities and capacities of intelligent infrastructure into incumbent systems while mitigating interruptions, reducing exposure to threats, and ensuring continuity of service? In short, intelligent infrastructure requires attention in its own right as a new critical public infrastructure.

Intelligent infrastructure is quickly becoming central to the operations of critical infrastructure providing services ranging from water, to energy, to multi-modal transportation, to health, to communications. And, economic competitiveness is increasingly tied to the reliability and resilience of these critical infrastructure. Simply put, places without robust intelligent infrastructure systems will be left behind in the global economy because their critical infrastructure systems — utilities, energy, transportation, health, and emergency services — will be not be competitive compared to places who made the investments in cyber-physical systems to support operations.

Intelligent infrastructure directly impacts the management of systems through manual and semi- and fully-autonomous interventions, such as allowing changes to traffic lights during a period of heavy vehicle throughput. Intelligent infrastructure also indirectly impacts existing systems by providing information important to design, maintenance, and decision-making from operations to city planning and administration.

The products currently emerging in the context of smart communities are largely service-embedded goods built on a platform of critical infrastructure systems. In other words, smart communities cannot move forward without intelligent infrastructure. Smart communities require: 1) connectivity (reliable, predictable, interoperable, and upgradeable), 2) analytical services (expertise and assets to make data legible and useable), 3) data storage and management services (including security and privacy), and 4) open access to data through platforms and interfaces for citizens, entrepreneurs, and incumbent firms to build enterprises and expand engagement.

For example, a “smart cities object” — a trash can, a streetcar, a light pole, a traffic light — requires embedded sensors. Those sensors require connectivity (fiber, wireless, etc.). The object requires a service contract to maintain and manage that connectivity. Data analytics are required to manage the resulting data and perform analysis. Interfaces and visualization tools are required to make the data accessible to citizens and businesses. Smart communities are a market-making enterprise and failing to invest in intelligent infrastructure misses the opportunity to provide local communities with globally competitive roads, bridges, and transit but also abdicates the opportunity to build a new industry around the products, services, and systems developed on the platform of intelligent infrastructure.

Making Smart Communities: Streamlining Research, Development, and Deployment

The making of smart communities follows a model of technology diffusion familiar in the private sector context. This, however, is technology diffusion into a public-sector context where there is a necessary focus on the broad provisioning of reliable and efficient services and a consideration for building access to data for enterprise development. There are significant private sector participants in smart communities and some of these firms have created consortiums to offer communities integrated and interoperable packages of hardware, software, and connectivity services.

In the U.S., the national innovation system largely relies of publicly-funded basic research and development conducted within the network of world class research universities throughout the country. For decades, these universities have served as the research and development backbone of U.S. industry and of national defense. Research indicates that this national innovation has been effective in bringing forward new technologies and in facilitating the commercialization of new products, processes, and materials.

In the smart communities context, research universities are again serving an essential role in the research and development phase of smart communities innovation. At Georgia Tech, we are engaged in developing new policy models for smart communities as well as new technologies including data analytics, sensor networks, and operating systems. Through this research we have identified four key elements in smart communities technology projects: 1) Phased technical deployment to increase opportunities for in-action learning, community engagement and responsiveness, and integration of ongoing technical improvements, while simultaneously reducing the implementation burden on participating organizations, 2) Comprehensive administrative and technical strategies focused on interoperability that account for the necessary current and future need for systems to communicate and foster expansion over time, 3) Programmatic commitments to engaging the community at large, and to integrating concerns originating in everything from planning to technical specifications in meaningful ways and tailored to local conditions, 4) Established policies around open data and open innovation in order to ensure both continued access and local and regional economic development.

Local governments are focused on managing growth and change in their communities and providing services to citizens. Rarely do local governments have internal research specializations. Although some larger local governments have made recent investments in innovation delivery teams, information management teams, and resilience offices, these efforts remain focused on enhanced service delivery to citizens. Further, many of these efforts have been financed by philanthropic investments by leading national foundations interested in improving the quality of life and capacity for service delivery in local communities. In other words, even the exemplar smart communities programs are largely experiments with limited resources, limited timelines, and unclear scalability.

Research universities have extensive experience partnering with industry and government on technology diffusion projects. Research universities are built to test new technologies, evaluate alternatives, assess investments, evaluate economic impacts, measure distributional consequences, and certify processes, materials, products, and standards. As with any new enabling technology (biotechnology, nanotechnology, advanced manufacturing, photonics) research universities can play a role as a neutral third party with specialized technical expertise. Universities are also embedded in local communities and often have long-term working relationships with local and state governments. Research universities also have vested interest in the upgrading and maintenance of intelligent infrastructure in the cities and communities in which they are located. World class industry partners, star scientists, and the next generation of entrepreneurs all look for intelligent infrastructure to support their research and commercial enterprises. The absence of this infrastructure makes universities less globally competitive — for talent and for capital. And, as stated before, such absences make local communities less globally competitive as well.

Rather than stand up research and development divisions in every local government in the country in order to assess and deploy smart communities technologies, it would be reasonable to again turn to the nation’s network of world class universities, like Georgia Tech, to conduct the research and development work of smart communities and thus facilitate the path to deployment by local communities.

Finally, as research universities train the next generation of workers, citizens, and entrepreneurs, it is important to recognize that living and working in smart communities will be distinct from the built environment in which we live now. Whether the changes are immediately disruptive like autonomous vehicles or incremental adjustments to the skills required for living in and navigating the built environment (think automated grocery store check outs, smartphone based parking systems), investments in technical training for new and incumbent workers will be required to take advantage of the value-added these technologies bring to the labor market. Universities again will be critical partners in developing both these technologies and the skilled workforce required to capitalize on their contributions to national and regional growth.

Smart Communities Implementation and the Role of the Federal Government

In 2015 the U.S. Department of Transportation announced a Smart Cities Challenge for cities across the country. The competition was a “winner take all” grant which Columbus, Ohio won. But 77 other communities also applied for the grant. In other words, 77 local communities across the country pulled together strategic plans for implementing intelligent infrastructure systems in their own communities and tailored to their own needs. The Federal Government has long played an essential role in investing in infrastructure and in emerging technologies. Smart Communities combine both these roles. And communities across the country have demonstrated their readiness to move forward.

The Federal Government has several key roles going forward. First, as noted above, smart communities involve technology diffusion into a complex private sector and public sector space — and that space is also a place, a jurisdiction. The implementation of smart communities involves engaging real people in real places in real time. Therefore, flexibility and policy tailoring will be essential to successful implementation. What works in New York City is unlikely to be exactly what works in Columbus or Savannah or Dallas. One size will not fit all.

Although the Federal Government should not set a standardized approach, the Federal Government should consider developing technical standards and platforms for data, connectivity, and integration of hard infrastructure and information and communication technologies to protect citizens and consumers from excessive experimentation. The National Transportation Safety Board’s approach to guidance on autonomous vehicles is a good example of signaling to industry, local governments, and researchers about how to shape strategic planning and private investment while protecting consumers and citizens. The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s efforts to develop the global cities team challenge and convene industry, local governments, and universities to discuss and develop standards is an important start as well.

Because smart communities technologies cut across domains they also do not fit neatly under a specific federal agency. Many of the efforts to consider and support smart communities have been partial and ad hoc. The recent call for public comments by the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) Program on the “Smart Cities and Communities Federal Strategic Plan: Exploring Innovation Together” is a start at coordinating planning across the Federal Government.

Georgia Tech and the City of Atlanta are partners in a national network designed for developing smart communities policies and technologies with the scalability of those models to other local governments in mind. The MetroLab Network is a network of 38 cities, 4 counties, and 51 universities, organized into “city (or county) – university partnerships” focused on “research, development, and deployment” (RD&D) projects that offer technologically- and analytically-based solutions for challenges facing communities: mobility, security and opportunity, aging infrastructure, and economic development. One role for the Federal Government is in resourcing and institutionalizing these networked partnerships to support policy diffusion across communities and information exchange about how smart communities investments (programs, projects, and objects) perform as implemented. These networks allow local governments to achieve some economies of scale, build capacity, and avoid replicating mistakes or reinventing the wheel.

The Federal Government has an important role to play in shaping the scope and scale of intelligent infrastructure investments going forward. Simply put, the Federal Government will decide the platform on which the national economy is built going forward and whether it meets 20th century standards or sets the standard for the 21st century. There is a significant amount of basic research required to ascertain how to achieve the promise of smart communities. Some of that research can be resourced through programs like the Smart and Connected Communities program or the Critical Resilient Interdependent Infrastructure Systems and Processes (CRISP) program of the National Science Foundation. However, the current resources are modest investments in basic research and not of a sufficient scale to support the broad, national technology deployments necessary.

There is also a significant amount of applied research required to move smart communities technologies from design to development to deployment. There is a growing need for education and training. In research universities like Georgia Tech we are developing new curriculum to integrate teaching and learning about innovation and communities, technology and cities and regions. We are also investing in research centers, like the Center for Urban Innovation and the Institute for People and Technology, that take an interdisciplinary approach to moving innovations in engineering, sciences, and computing into a complex real world context of communities, entrepreneurs, and industries. How to design and deploy intelligent infrastructure to efficiently and effectively support smart communities is one of the central questions going forward for the country as a whole and for local communities in specific. Building the replicable models and dissemination networks for the broad and sustained implementation of information and communication technologies into the next generation of national infrastructure is the opportunity and the challenge before us.

Teaching Smart Cities: From Urban Policy to Urban Innovation

by Jennifer Clark, Center for Urban Innovation

A Sample Smart City from IDC Government Insights (2013), courtesy Smart Cities Council

The topic of smart cities — as a discourse and as a practice — came on the popular scene first with initiatives such as IBM Smarter Cities in the early 2010s and has since captured a much wider audience. Like many technology projects, smart cities have caught the public imagination as something novel. Self-driving cars are presented as “disrupting” transportation models and the built environment itself. And yet, self-driving cars are still just individual cars. They drive on the same streets that have defined the urban form for more than a century. They may influence the demand for parking but it is less clear what effect they will have on roads. If anything, such technology appears to be incremental, not disruptive. And, when policy expertise enters the conversation, we see the clear evidence of this obvious incrementalism.  

The growing interest in smart cities has presented some interesting questions to the academic community: Where does one learn about smart cities? Who teaches smart cities? What discipline or degree programs prepare students to design, implement, and evaluate smart cities?

“Smart cities” is rarely seen for what it is — a technology diffusion challenge operating in a dynamic and contested space between the public and the private sector.  The technology development will likely prove to be the easy part; it is the design and deployment of these models into this liminal space where governance, regulation, access, participation, and representation are all unclear and the “operating standards” are yet to be fully articulated that will prove to be the real challenge.

Smart cities present a very interesting challenge to teaching and to curriculum development in universities. This is a technology-intensive field which is fundamentally interdisciplinary and necessarily rooted in the social sciences. What makes cities are people — the choices they make, the places they go, the things they buy, and where they live and work. The built environment shapes those choices and urban systems facilitate or aggravate both movement across and living in cities. But at their core, cities are complex political, economic, and social systems. So, the challenge of smart cities is not one of technology alone. Indeed, most of the relevant technologies exist and currently operate in other contexts like manufacturing and defense. The question then becomes — beyond a grasp of the underlying technologies — what does one need to know to be a smart cities expert?

What are the prerequisites for studying smart cities? Does it require a background in data analytics? Civic computing? Civil engineering? Or, does the mastery of smart cities require knowledge of cities themselves? Stated another way, could you effectively study biotechnology without mastering organic chemistry or biology? Could you study astrophysics without an understanding of physics and mathematics?  

I began teaching university-level courses about how to study cities in 2004 at Cornell University. The first course I taught was an introduction to urban fieldwork tailored to undergraduate urban studies students. The course was intended to prepare students for careers that required understanding the actors and processes that shape the urban environment.  

Since then, I have taught many other courses on urban policy and urban and regional economic development at Georgia Tech. I have also coordinated a graduate concentration of the MSPP degree in public policy specializing in urban policy and anchored by a two semester course sequence PUBP 6604: Urban Policy Analysis and Practice and PUBP 6606: Urban Development Policy. And, in my experience, every year these courses change at the margins if not in their core content. These courses change because cities themselves are dynamic — what cities do and why and how changes over time and thus, so does the study of them. After teaching these courses for more than a decade, I see them now through the lens of the evolution of the field itself from urban policy to urban innovation.

The evolving nature of both the discipline and the practice has been highlighted to me through my evolving use of the two core books I have taught for several years in Urban Policy Analysis and Practice: 1) Basic Methods of Policy Analysis and Planning (a book I co-authored with colleagues in policy and planning disciplines), and 2) Fast Policy (a book co-authored by colleagues from urban and economic geography). Both books emphasize the speed at which policy analysis and policy diffusion occur and the role of institutions and analysts in speeding along policy change — and their corresponding responsibilities in slowing it down — to be more deliberate, assess alternatives, and make informed determinations about what works and what doesn’t and for whom. In other words, the need for urban innovation experts to understand efficiency, equity, distribution, and impact in addition to technology. Fundamentally, smart cities are about being smart, not just being high-tech.

In February 2016, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a major report “Technology and the Future of Cities.” The report outlined a strategy to guide federal investment and engagement in smart cities initiatives. Although the future of these initiatives and the impact of the original PCAST report in influencing investment is uncertain, the report itself revealed some interesting absences. Only a small number of the more than 100 contributors to the Future of Cities Report represented the perspective or expertise of the social sciences focused on cities and the urban scale: urban policy, urban planning, urban geography, urban history, urban economics, or urban administration.  

Historically, the array of social science fields focused on cities are sub-fields of much larger disciplines — economics, political science, geography, history. After decades of deindustrialization and disinvestment in cities, these sub-fields are not always the most popular or publicized. However, urban planning — to varying degrees — is the exception to the sub-field rule. Within urban planning, the consensus opinion has long been that urban planning is a discipline of its own. Its disciplinary boundaries run parallel to architecture in that there is a core curriculum, a professional master’s degree, professional certifications, and a clear professional practice. One is trained as an urban planner to work in urban planning. In other words, urban planning has rarely identified as an interdisciplinary project.  

As a consequence, “smart cities” as a domain, has emerged into the world of degrees and disciplines in which its home is likely to be fluid rather than fixed. Teaching smart cities will likely be a collaborative and interdisciplinary project with its core knowledge claims rooted in an understanding about the workings of cities and its novel value claims oriented around its interdisciplinarity and its integration of knowledge about not just technology but how technology can be used in the urban context.

For me and the curriculum I teach, the promise of urban innovation is exciting. I look forward to teaching urban policy as the landscape changes and smart cities becomes a centerpiece of investment and administration. Cities have never stood still. There is no reason why the curriculum about them should either.

People-Centered Planning in Smart Cities

By Emma French

The term “smart city” has become common parlance in city planning circles in recent years. While there is no universally agreed upon definition, descriptions of smart cities typically refer to integrated and interoperable networks of digital infrastructure and information and communication technologies (ICT) that collect and share data and improve the quality of urban life (Allwinkle and Cruickshank 2011; Batty et al. 2012). However unlike related concepts such as the digital city, the intelligent city and the ubiquitous city, the smart city is not limited to the diffusion of ICT, but also commonly includes people (Albino, Beradi, and Dangelico 2015).

Many of the technological enhancements propelling the smart city revolution require re-designing and in some cases re-building the underlying infrastructure that holds cities together. City planners will therefore play a significant role in the creation and implementation of many smart city initiatives. In a 2015 report on smart cities and sustainability, the American Planning Association (APA) purported that new technologies will aid planners by creating more avenues for community participation in policy and planning processes (APA 2015).

Public Participation in Planning

Widely-held conceptions of planning have shifted over the last century from normative, rational models that position planners as technical experts, toward a theoretical pluralism characterized by the political nature of planning, competing interests of stakeholders, and decisions as negotiated outcomes facilitated by planners (Lane 2005). These more contemporary models, most of which were first conceptualized in the 1960s and 1970s, view citizen participation as a key part of the planning process. Smith (1973) argues that participatory planning increases the effectiveness and adaptability of the planning process and that citizen participation strengthens our understanding of the role of communities in the urban system.

Meaningful public participation in planning has been found to better planners’ understanding of the community context (Myers 2010), improve decisions through knowledge sharing (Creighton 2005), increase trust in political decision making (Richards, Blackstock, and Carter 2004; Faga 2010), produce long-term support of plans (Levy 2011), enhance citizenship (Day 1997; Smith 1973), build social capital (Layzer 2008), and address complex problems through collaboration and consensus (Innes 2010; Godschalk 2010).

While these more contemporary planning models emphasize the importance of citizen engagement, achieving meaningful participation has proved difficult. Challenges preventing meaningful citizen participation include funding and resource constraints (Creighton 2005), literacy and numeracy (Community Places 2014), disinterest (Cropley and Phibbs 2013), lack of access to necessary resources (Cropley and Phibbs 2013), the prescriptive role of government (Njoh 2002), power inequalities within groups (Reed 2008), jurisdictional misalignment (Layzer 2008), and lack of respect for public opinion (Day 1997).

17-2-24In her seminal 1969 article, A Ladder of Citizen Participation, Arnstein uses examples from
federal urban renewal and anti-poverty programs to illustrate different manifestations of participation in practice (see figure to the right). Arnstein defines citizen participation as “the redistribution of power that enables the have-not citizens, presently excluded from the political and economic processes, to be deliberatively included in the future” (
Arnstein 1969, 216). Arnstein’s examples show how some efforts to include citizens in planning and decision making can perpetuate existing systems of power and actually further disenfranchise marginalized communities.

Glass (1979) attributes the dearth of meaningful citizen participation in planning and policy making processes to lack of attention to the design of participatory programs and a mismatch between objectives and techniques. Glass concludes that if the goal is just to get citizens to participate then almost any technique will be seen as sufficient. He argues that one technique alone is never enough and that meaningful citizen participation requires a continuous, multifaceted system of engagement (Glass 1979).

Technology-aided Participation

For decades scholars have been exploring ways that technology can enable meaningful participation in planning and policy making. Recent hype around “smart cities” has fueled the debate about the role of technology in these processes. Technology has been found to support citizen participation in planning by increasing participants understanding of issues and proposed plans (Salter et al. 2009), supporting collaboration (Jankowski 2009), strengthening the role of low-income residents (Livengood and Kunte 2012), and enabling alternative, informal manifestations of civic engagement (Asad and Le Dantec 2015).

Simply adding technology to the planning equation, however, does not always guarantee meaningful participation (Sylvester and McGlynn 2010; Epstein, Newhart, and Vernon 2014; Holgersson and Karlsson 2014). While the use of technology may address some barriers to participation in planning processes, it may actually exacerbate other barriers that stem from structural social, economic and environmental inequities.

Equity, Planning and Smart Cities

Despite the emphasis of meaningful citizen participation in planning, low-income, urban communities of color often still suffer from poor infrastructure, environmental degradation and exposure to toxins, and potential displacement due to rapid gentrification. A concern voiced by many critics of smart cities is that, like previous attempts to use technology to engage the public, the existing digital divide will likely limit use of smart city technologies to certain groups of people with certain resources and skills.

Using 2007 Pew survey data, Sylvester and McGlynn (2010) conducted four logistical regression models that try to explain the factors leading to individuals having “low access” to the Internet and how internet usage and physical location influence civic participation. They find that living in a rural area and being African American or Hispanic increase the probability that you will have low access to the Internet. Age was found to have a significant, negative effect on Internet access—meaning that the younger you are the more likely you are to have access to the Internet. The results also showed that people living in urban areas were more likely to contact the government by phone (Sylvester and McGlynn 2010).

The recent hype around smart cities is fueled to some degree by the rapid migration of people into cities. In 2014 ,fifty-four percent of the world’s population lived in urban areas and the World Health Organization estimates that by 2030 that number will be closer to eighty percent (WHO 2017). Atlanta is expected to grow by about 2.5 million people in the next 25 years; however, income inequality in the city is increasing and poor urban residents are being displaced by millennials and baby boomers (Coleon 2016).

This brings up a major concern regarding smart cities. Namely, who are we making cities smart for? If our efforts to make cities more efficient, safe, and clean result in the displacement of marginalized communities, are these cities really smarter than the ones in we live in now? No sensor can substitute for public engagement and responsive leadership. Agyeman and McLaren (2016) advise against the creation of tech hubs without a simultaneous strategy to protect and invest in affordable housing, basic services, and infrastructure.  

Adam Greenfield presents a similar, albeit more in-depth, critique in Against The Smart City, where he investigates three major international smart city urban developments and argues that the marketing materials and promises of the sponsors highlight their interest in this top-down, data-rich urban management system (Griffiths 2013).

The Role of Planners in the Smart City

In the APA’s Smart City and Sustainability Task Force survey, planners ranked socio-economic disparity as the second most important topic for planners working in smart cities (after green building and site design), suggesting that planners are aware of the importance of socio-economic stratification. But what can planners do to ensure that investments in smart city technologies are benefiting everyone equally, rather than sucking away financial and political resources needed to fix basic infrastructure issues? How can planners use these technologies to support more meaningful community engagement?

The existing literature suggests that even where technologies enable greater understanding of the planning issues or more meaningful engagement, they must be used in tandem with of traditional modes of planning such as in person meetings and design charrettes. Scholars also emphasize the need for ongoing, participatory mechanisms. Especially where institutionally-mediated participation falls within the first five rungs of Arnstein’s ladder, perhaps ICTs can play a role in supporting alternate, illegitimate forms of civic action that have a greater impact.

Revisiting Atlanta’s 45-Year Reputation as the “Black Mecca”

By Todd M. Michney

This blogpost is in commemoration of Black History Month, a tradition started in 1926 by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) and which the Georgia Institute of Technology observes by sponsoring an annual lecture.

In 1971 Ebony magazine, the nation’s premier and most widely-read African American monthly serial, published an article by staff writer Phyl (Phyllis) Garland titled “Atlanta: Black Mecca of the South.”  Although it was not the first U.S. city to which that label was applied[1], the moniker stuck.  Coming on the eve of Maynard Jackson’s ascent to the mayoralty, the implications of Atlanta’s singular achievement and rising prominence among Southern cities, embodied in the term “mecca,” fit well with the city’s rapidly growing economy and carefully-managed image of steady progress toward racial equality.  Furthermore, as alluded to by the author herself, Garland’s article appeared at a time when opportunities for African Americans in larger Northern and Western metropolises were looking far less promising, with deindustrialization setting in and frustrations in many such cities’ black neighborhoods becoming manifest in a succession of riot-torn, “long, hot summers.”

First page of the original Ebony article “Atlanta: Black Mecca of the South,” courtesy Google Books/ Johnson Publishing.

Atlanta’s reputation as a Black Mecca has proven durable, although numerous commentators over the years have pointed out where the city falls short – some stridently – insofar as the benefits of economic growth have not been distributed equally either to African American Atlantans relative to whites, or among them as a group. This past November, Georgia State University’s Law School hosted a symposium entitled “Still the Black Mecca?  Race, Social Inequality, and Urban Displacement in 21st Century Atlanta,” featuring contributions from speakers including scholars, activists, and other community stakeholders. In a subsequent interview, one of the event’s co-organizers, Dr. Kali-Ashet Amen, explained its planners’ main underlying concern:  “[T]his symposium was explicitly about equity – not equal opportunity, not access, not ‘diversity’ – but rather, racial equity; which is to say, we are concerned with the evaluation of fairness and justice in both the policies and the business deals that are being brokered in the name of urban progress.”


Revisiting Garland’s original article offers us a chance to assess how Atlanta has lived up to the Black Mecca label over the past four decades, from our contemporary standpoint where so much has changed, even as striking continuities remain. While we readily recall her hopeful tone – which in fact characterized most of the accompanying articles in that issue of Ebony on the theme of “The South Today” – we typically forget that Garland’s subtitle was equivocal:  “Racial peace, prosperity are mixed with problems in this bustling boomtown.” Garland was neither a native booster of, nor a naïve believer in Atlanta’s supposed racial progressivism. Born in Pennsylvania and having started her career reporting on civil rights topics for the black-owned Pittsburgh Courier (famous for its militant “Double V” campaign during World War II), she went South in 1965 after joining Ebony, where she interviewed Fannie Lou Hamer among other black female activists in Mississippi, and reported on the early political gains from the Voting Rights Act. Just months before her “Atlanta: Black Mecca” article appeared, Garland had published another piece of reportage on the city, treating the campaign by the Community Coalition on Broadcasting which successfully pressured local radio stations to hire more African Americans in positions of authority. Incidentally, a striking contemporary parallel to this effort is a current lawsuit filed by black employees of CNN alleging the existence of a “glass ceiling” in hiring and promotion at this Atlanta-based company.

Maynard Jackson, courtesy of Google Books/Johnson Publishing

Garland’s tentative rendition of Atlanta as a mecca for black politics came as the election of its first African American mayor was looking increasingly likely – she mentioned a perception that Jackson had been “campaigning unofficially” ever since becoming vice-mayor – in no small part due to the city’s black proportion reaching a majority. An attempt to delay this eventuality had been the underlying impetus behind Mayor William Hartsfield’s successful push to annex large portions of unincorporated Fulton County in 1952, which tripled the size of Atlanta’s geographic area. “Now a healthy 51 per cent of the population, they have made their power felt on all levels of local government and anticipate the day when that slim margin will be so solidly reinforced that they might push open even bigger official doors,” Garland wrote. Among the notable recent political gains she mentioned were the election to a statehouse seat of civil rights and anti-Vietnam war activist Julian Bond, formerly with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and who attended Morehouse College; around the time the article appeared, he had co-founded the Southern Poverty Law Center. Still on the horizon was the entry into local politics of two other civil rights veterans:  John Lewis, also with SNCC, and Andrew Young, the former executive director of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Young had been instrumental in organizing SCLC’s “citizenship schools” that increased voter registration in rural areas; in 1972 he became the first African American elected to represent Georgia in Congress since Reconstruction, and in 1981 he would succeed Maynard Jackson as Atlanta’s second black mayor. Lewis – already famous as a Freedom Rider as well as for his role in the 1965 Selma march – had relocated to Atlanta in 1967 to head up the Voter Education Project. Following his election to Atlanta’s City Council in 1981, Lewis defeated Bond in a bitter 1986 contest for Young’s former 5th U.S. Congressional seat that Lewis still holds today. While Atlanta was not the first major U.S. city to elect an African American mayor, its unbroken succession of black mayoral leadership since 1973 is the longest-running in the country, with Detroit recently having broken a comparable streak in 2013. However, with the city’s African American population in decline due to black suburbanization and white gentrification, the likelihood of Atlanta continuing this tradition is no longer assured. In fact, changing demographics raise the question of whether the post-civil rights model of black political leadership in Atlanta and elsewhere may be moribund.

Atlanta’s black-owned businesses constituted perhaps the most hopeful note in Garland’s “Black Mecca” article, as she referenced a recently-coined Nixonian phrase in concluding “black capitalism has been practiced . . . [in Atlanta] long before it was given a name.” Receiving particular attention for having just completed its twelve-story headquarters was the Citizens Trust Co., founded in 1921 by Heman Perry, a black businessman and real estate developer of the then-suburban Washington Park neighborhood. Currently the fourth-largest black-owned bank in the country, Citizens Trust remains true to its roots of lending on homes, and recently saw a spike in new account openings as a result of Atlanta hip-hop artist and social activist Killer Mike’s #BankBlack campaign. Yet despite such efforts, African American-owned financial institutions in Atlanta and elsewhere have struggled to remain solvent; Mutual Federal Savings and Loan Co., another institution mentioned in the article and a longtime landmark on the city’s historic Auburn Avenue, did not fare as well, closing in 2000. Alonzo Herndon, Atlanta’s first African American millionaire and founder of the Atlanta Life Insurance Co. – currently the second-largest such black-owned firm in the country – also received mention, alongside T.M. Alexander, another pioneer in that industry who had famously insured cars owned by Montgomery Bus Boycott supporters when their coverage was punitively discontinued. Garland also mentioned the city’s foremost black builder of the 1950s, Walter H. “Chief” Aiken, as well as the up-and-coming black developer of the 1960s, Herman J. Russell. Russell’s was among those black-owned construction companies that benefited from Mayor Jackson’s expansion of affirmative action programs (begun under his predecessor Sam Massell), which ensured that one-quarter of contracts for the Hartsfield Airport expansion were reserved for minority-owned firms. An article in Black Enterprise several years later lauded Russell, even as it hinted at the fragility of the city’s more than 2,000 black-owned businesses at the time. Strikingly, while Russell’s company remains among Atlanta’s top five largest African American firms along with Citizens Trust, a food service business and two car dealerships now share that distinction. Furthermore, Atlanta’s black business enterprises are increasingly more prominently associated with the recording, film, and television industry, symbolized in the latter case by the success of Donald Glover’s “Atlanta” series on FX.

Courtesy Google Books/Johnson Publishing

Finally, even as Garland celebrated Atlanta’s upwardly-mobile black middle class, she pointed to the glaring ways that working-class and poor African Americans were being left out of the city’s growing economy. One photo featured a husband and wife who both were elementary school teachers, noting “[h]ome ownership is the great pride of black Atlantans . . . [but] most of these people are not rich . . . [p]eople are killing themselves to maintain a certain standard of living,”[2] pictured left, while another depicted a young child in Vine City, “an inner-city poverty pocket untouched by Atlanta’s reputation for affluence” (pictured below and right).

Courtesy Google Books/Johnson Publishing

 Even as Garland pointed to “verdant neighborhoods that are the true pride and joy of the city’s black citizenry” – Collier Heights, Cascade Heights, and Peyton Forest (this last one the site of modern Atlanta’s arguably most embarrassing incident of racial intolerance) – she noted “[t]here are 160,000 people living in poverty here and two-thirds of them are black.”  State Representative Julian Bond summarized the situation: “This is the best place in the United States for a black [person] if you’re middle-class and have a college degree, but if you’re poor, it’s just like Birmingham, Jackson or any other place.” Furthermore, white flight from outlying city neighborhoods was an ongoing problem, leading Garland to conclude “Evidently Atlanta is not quite ready for integrated housing.” Demographic turnover additionally had ramifications for the city’s ability to achieve public school integration, which despite an initial move in 1961 toward compliance with the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board ruling, was essentially stalled; a 1968 report had noted that 98 percent of African American children still attended all-black schools, and 65 percent of public elementary schools were “totally segregated.” Metro Atlanta still exhibits divergent outcomes for African Americans on the basis of class. On the one hand, suburban Clayton and Fayette are two of only seven counties in the entire country where blacks’ average income exceeds that of whites; at the same time, the metropolitan area ranks near the bottom among U.S. cities in terms of its potential for upward mobility. There is evidence that Atlanta’s elimination of its entire traditional public housing inventory further exacerbated inequality among African Americans, and while there is still an argument to be made that the city constitutes a “mecca” for the black middle class, even the most prosperous have been disproportionately impacted by the Great Recession, with many families experiencing downward mobility. Meanwhile, the failures of school desegregation have followed African Americans to the suburbs.


Much has changed in Atlanta since 1971 when Garland wrote the article that cemented the city’s reputation as a “Black Mecca.” Not only has white population decline reversed since 1990; Latinos and Asians now constitute an increasingly significant and growing share.  LGBTQ Atlantans, newly visible at the time the original article appeared, now stand at the forefront of the contemporary local civil rights movement. In the words of Dr. Kali-Ashet Amen, mentioned above as a co-organizer of the recent “Still the Black Mecca?” symposium: “[F]or the black mecca to be true to its name in the present moment, we are going to need a practical vision of multiracial, queer, and immigrant equity that is grounded in political commitments to black and brown thriving. Without that kind of intentionality, and multiracial mobilizing toward those ends, the black mecca idea loses all foundation.” With the benefit of a historical perspective – making clear that this concept from the outset was never understood so much as an established reality as a work-in-progress – we can better chart where we need to move, in order to rectify past injustices and make our city a more equitable place for everyone.


[1] New York (specifically Harlem), Washington, DC as the first black-majority city, and even New Orleans had previously been designated as the “colored” or “Negro mecca”; note that some white observers used the term in a derogatory way.

[2] On similar strategies by dual-income black couples elsewhere, see Todd M. Michney, Surrogate Suburbs: Black Upward Mobility and Neighborhood Change in Cleveland, 1900-1980 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017).

A Fireside Chat with Debra Lam, Incoming Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation Managing Director

by Chris Thayer

Debra Lam (via Chandler Crowell Photography)

At January 26th’s IPaT Town Hall, CUI Director Dr. Jennifer Clark sat down with Debra Lam, lately of Pittsburgh fame and now the Institute for People and Technology’s new Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation Managing Director. Previously Debra led the City of Pittsburgh’s Department of Innovation and Performance, which was in charge of technology, sustainability, and performance of the city government. In this fireside chat, Dr. Clark asked Debra about her vision for smart cities, the collaborative potential between government and research institutions, and the potential impact of the changing national political climate on local efforts. This article is a transcript of that interview.

JC: For those of you that don’t know, I’m Jennifer Clark. This is Debra Lam, who we’re welcoming today. Debra is coming from Pittsburgh, where she was in charge of what was called the Innovation and Performance Team at the City of Pittsburgh, so when we found out that Debra was moving to Atlanta, the brainstorm we had was “What if we had the person who actually did so much in Pittsburgh on the City side of the city-university partnership come to Georgia Tech and help us manage the University side of our city-university partnership here in Atlanta?”

Some of you have read some of the discussions about Uber, and how Uber came to Pittsburgh to pilot its autonomous vehicle technologies. Actually, Pittsburgh has also developed — Debra developed — an Inclusive Innovation Plan for Smart Cities.  

So, I wanted to start by asking Debra a couple of questions, picking up a bit on what Beth just said about the changing political environment. Some people have the thought that with the changing political environment, cities generally, and Smart Cities in particular, may fall off the radar. But there are other people who argue that cities have been leading urban innovation from the ground up for many years. As someone on the front line, how do you feel about that? What’s your argument for being an optimist?

DL: Thank you, Jennifer. First of all, I’d like to thank you, all of you, for giving me a very warm welcome. I think all of us here — I’m a huge advocator for city empowerment and just see that cities are on the ground and accountable from a purely operational standpoint, in terms of just day to day operations like cleaning the streets and fixing the streetlights, right on to managing citizen accountability and responsibilities like that. So that makes us really on the thrust of not only trying to deliver, but delivering well. And being on that forefront, I think that’s an exciting place to be because the scale is easier to deliver on, and the sensitivities of being on the ground makes us more accountable. Accordingly I’ve been a firm advocate of the idea that it’s great that there are these great international actors, and great national actors, but whatever happens at the international and national levels, cities are still going to be at that front-lines position. Earlier, we talked about how cities have moved forward, proving their potential repeatedly — and it shows that, I think, whatever happens at this national climate means that we’re still going to lead the way forward.

JC: City-university partnerships are emerging as one of the key vehicles for designing smart cities and developing the systems and platforms essential for optimizing urban systems and expanding access and building opportunity. What do you think technology-focused universities like Georgia Tech bring to this enterprise? What are key roles that universities can (or possibly) should play?

DL: So, first of all, are people aware of the MetroLab Network? Do you guys know what it is?

No? No, okay. So, for those those that aren’t familiar, the MetroLab Network is a national partnership of almost forty cities and more than forty universities across the country that have committed themselves to doing applied research. Basically, trying to matchmake urban challenges with real expertise coming from a university and applying them on a wider scale. We started with our own Metro21 Partnership when I signed Memoranda Of Understanding with Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. And that partnership really brought research to City Hall — it basically created an R&D Department within the City of Pittsburgh, which had never existed. We had everything from internships to semester-long projects to graduate research projects to faculty-sponsored grants, all funnelling into City operations to be applied for improvements in decision-making and performance. And that was really, I would say, a turning point in how we thought about innovation, because it allowed us to essentially decrease the risk of trying new things, because we have this university partnership, and to fast-track some of these innovations into City operations. And then from that partnership, we expanded it and launched MetroLab Network at the White House a couple years ago, during Smart Cities Week. And today, it’s transpired into that collection of forty-plus University-City partnerships, two of which Georgia Tech and Georgia State are also involved, and Jennifer is in the lead here in the City of Atlanta.

JC: We were talking earlier about Debra’s thinking about a Smart Cities ecosystem, and articulating how we should be thinking about the different pieces of a Smart Cities ecosystem. I wonder if you couldn’t share a little bit about what you think about that?

DL: First of all, I think this is an evolving space, and I think it’s new and growing space. What I found really great, and one of the reasons why I thought it was a great match to come to Georgia Tech, was that there was just a wealth of expertise all around Georgia Tech. And I thought, there’s so much we need to learn in terms of expertise. I really think of Smart Cities as a bigger ecosystem that involves a lot of different parts in collaboration in order to hit some alternate goals. In this ecosystem, there are certain resources or inputs that’s required in any context. These inputs could involve anything from data to technology, software to infrastructure — these are your basic components that cities are constantly looking at in terms of resources that are required to build a Smart City. But then these inputs require processes in order to be utilized. These processes involve new ways to improve efficiency, new ways to engage the public, whether it is for stakeholder engagement or innovative financial or business models, to think about how to find or procure these inputs, that technology or data. There are these processes that could become better or more efficient, or could really, really be more inclusive in thinking about where and how to serve the public, or different sectors of the community. But once you get into pursuing these different inputs and these process improvements, they ultimately lead to: Why do we do Smart Cities, at the end of the day? What is the ultimate goal of Smart Cities?

To me, Smart Cities is ultimately to improve the quality of life for residents. You can think of it as increased resilience, you can think of it as increased sustainability, you can think about it as increased equality, an increasingly just society — all those are goals that we’re striving for. There are certain inputs, resources that we need, processes that we can improve, but the reason why we are going towards a Smart City and all of us are collectively contributing, doing our part, is because we want to make a better world. Call it whatever you want, but that’s basically it. And that’s why I think that as part of the Smart Cities ecosystem, it is central that we are collaborative and integrative in our approaches. It’s hard to put people or areas into a specific box per se, but there are some of us that have great expertise in inputs, whether we are experts in sensors or technologies or data, and there are some who are really heavily involved in processes like stakeholder engagement or different ways of making financial models, and then there are some that are heavily involved in looking at what a just society looks like, or a resilient city looks like. Together, we, and I can say ‘we’ as Georgia Tech, really are formulating a true Smart City ecosystem, with players in all kinds of roles. That’s what makes Georgia Tech really powerful, to me. When we put all that together, we can create a really good narrative of what the Smart Cities should be, and how we could be on the forefront of driving Smart Cities — not just for the City of Atlanta, but for cities all over the world. Thank you, and I’m really glad you’re here.


Open Government Data Policies

by Emma French

Governments at many levels collect large amounts of data every year through their programs and daily operations. Fueled by the belief that data produced by any government is the property of the tax-paying citizens, the open data movement seeks to make government data easily accessible and available to the public. Advocates argue that opening government data can increase government transparency and accountability, enable meaningful citizen participation in policy and decision-making processes, and spur economic growth and innovation in unforeseeable ways.

Open data policies are being passed all over the world to institutionalize the culture of open data and maximize the potential benefits derived from releasing data. In the last decade there has been a notable increase in the number of open data policies passed in the United States (see Figure 1 below). In 2006, Washington D.C. was the first local government to pass an open data executive directive. In 2009 the first of two federal open government directives was issued by the Obama Administration, and local policies were adopted in Memphis, Portland and San Francisco. According to the Sunlight Foundation there are now at least two federal, ten state, nine county, and 46 city-level open data policies in the United States.

Figure 1. This graph shows the number of open data policies (including local, state and federal) passed in the United States between 2006 and 2016. (Note: Some governments have passed multiple policies, often starting with an executive order and then moving to an ordinance or administrative policy. This graph counts each new policy individually regardless of whether or not a policy already existed in that city). Data source: Sunlight Foundation

Despite the importance of local policy, scant research has been done on the prevalence and effectiveness of open data policies at the city level. In an attempt to fill this gap, CUI researchers recently conducted a study to examine the variation that exists among city level open data policies in the United States. Twelve policies were assessed based on their potential to increase transparency, public participation, and economic innovation (Table 1).

Table 1. Selected Open Data Policies

City Population (2015) Year of Adoption Legal Means


Implementing Agency Stated Policy Purpose
Pittsburgh, PA



304,391 2014 Ordinance Open Data Management Team (new team incl. reps from each city dept. and chaired by the Chief of Innovation and Performance) Transparency; cross-sector coordination; local software innovation; government efficiency; open by default
Minneapolis, MN



410,939 2014 Ordinance Open Data Advisory Group (new team incl. Chief Information Officer and Open Data Coordinator from each dept.) Transparency; government efficiency; public participation; economic innovation; social progress; collaboration
Kansas City, MO 475,378 2015 Ordinance Chief Data Officer (reports to the City Manager) Transparency; Innovation by government, public or other partners
Tulsa, OK


403,505 2015 Executive Order Open Data Advisory Board (new team) Transparency; public participation; efficiency; economic opportunity
Chattanooga, TN



176,588 2014 Executive Order Open Data Advisory Group (new team incl. the Chief Information Officer and reps from each city agency); Office of Open Data and Performance Management (created 2015) Transparency; civic engagement; economic development; improved coordination and efficiency among cross-sector organizations
Cincinnati, OH







298,550 2014 Administrative Regulation Open Data Working Group (new team incl. Open Data coordinators from each of the city’s departments); Open Data Executive Committee (new team diff. from Open Data Working Group) Transparency
Baltimore, MD 621,849 2016 Ordinance Chief Data Officer; Department Open Data Coordinators Innovative uses by city agencies, the public and other partners
San Francisco, CA 864,816 2013 Ordinance Chief Data Officer; Department Data Coordinators Transparency; mobilize high-tech workforce to create civil tools and applications; social and economic innovation; empowering citizens to participate; job creation; public-private partnerships
New York City, NY 8,550,405 2012 Local Administrative Law Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications Transparency; intra- and inter-governmental interoperability; public participation; innovative strategies for social progress; economic opportunities
Washington D.C. 672,228 2014 Executive Directive Chief Data Officer (CDO); Open Government Advisory Group (new group incl. Mayor’s designee, the Chief Data Officer, and Director of the Office of Open Government) Transparency; public participation; collaboration; effective government; economic development; public trust in government
Charlotte, NC


827,097 2015 Administrative Policy Department of Innovation and Technology (existing group) Transparency; civic engagement; economic development; investment; public confidence in government
Houston, TX




2,296,224 2014 Administrative Policy Enterprise Data Officer (EDO); Open Data Advisory Board (new group) Transparency; civic engagement; cross-sector collaboration; efficiency; societal improvement; economic growth

The policies were analyzed by controlling for the transparency of the process through which they were created (open vs. closed) as well as the size of the city in which they were created (small vs. large). Ordinances were included in the open policy creation category, and executive orders and administrative policies comprised the closed category.

Three indexes were developed using proxies to assess the potential for each of the policies to increase transparency, public participation and economic innovation. For this study transparency is defined as the willingness of a government be open and accountable to the public. Public participation is the degree to which citizens are meaningfully involved in government policy and decision-making processes. Economic innovation is the degree to which citizens, entrepreneurs, and businesses are empowered to produce new innovative services and products. Table 2 below lists the indicators used for each index. Indicators with ‘SF’ by them were borrowed from the Sunlight Foundation’s Open Data Policy Guidelines.

Table 2. Indexes for Evaluating Open Data Policies

Transparency Index
Proactively release government information online (SF)
Create a public, comprehensive list of all information holdings (SF)
Specify methods of prioritization of data release (SF)
Stipulate that provisions apply to contractors or quasi-governmental agencies (SF)
Create central location for data publication (SF)
Require publishing metadata (SF)
Appropriately safeguard sensitive information (SF)
Public Participation Index
Incorporated public perspectives into open data policy making process
Require incorporation of public perspectives into policy implementation (SF)
Mandate data formats for maximal technical access (SF)
City has created an open data portal
Citizens can request new data via the website
Citizens can ask for help with data use via the website
City has offered free trainings on data access and use
Economic Innovation Index
Place data in the public domain or make available through an open license (SF)
Portal has an API to encourage developers to use the data
Competitions or hackathons to encourage use
Create/explore potential partnerships with other governments or institutions (SF)

This study’s findings support the claim that on average open data policies created through an open process have greater potential to increase transparency, public participation, and economic innovation than those created through a closed process. On average policies in larger cities scored higher in terms of transparency and economic innovation, however policies created in smaller cities scored higher in terms of their potential to increase public participation. Barriers to successful open data policies include restrictive licensing, closed formatting, privacy concerns and uneven access to the technology and knowledge to use open data. Policies that embrace meaningful transparency, public participation and cross-sector collaboration can support the creation of urban innovation ecosystems that promote use of open data.

Recommendations for governments creating an open data policy

  1. Address privacy concerns directly and proactively

Critics of open data will try to use this as a way to prevent opening up access to public data. In order to minimize this barrier it is critical that cities address privacy and security concerns up front.

  1. Be open, but also strategic

In order to realize the full economic and innovative potential of open data, open data policies need to require open formatting of data that allows for easy use, re-use, and integration. Data should be dedicated to the public domain or made available through an open license. Cities should make sure that restrictions are limited in order to maximize the potential for the data to be turned into public value. At the same time, it is important to be strategic when crafting policies and plans.

  1. Great policies aren’t enough

In order to transform open data into public value, cities need to collaborate across sectors and political jurisdictions. They need to start thinking about the public not as a client, but as a potential partner whose personal experiences can help inform the city’s work. The focus needs to be less on the supply-side, and more on the demand-side (Janssen, Charalabidis, and Zuiderwijk 2012; Conradie and Choenni 2014). Cities should be intentional about creating a culture of openness internally in order to nurture an ecosystem for open innovation more broadly (Schaffers et al. 2011).


Open data has no intrinsic value; rather, its value is dependent on its use. Open data policies can support cities’ efforts to increase transparency, public participation and economic innovation. However, policies alone are not enough to achieve these goals, and in some cases they may actually inhibit such innovation from taking place. The findings from this study support the claim that open data policies created though open processes have, on average, greater potential to increase transparency, public participation, and economic innovation than those created through a closed process. Cross-disciplinary and cross-sector collaboration were identified as integral to promoting greater interoperability and to expanding use of open data to support innovation. Future research is needed to evaluate the effectiveness of city-level open data polices, and to better understand the processes through which open data is used to create public value. 

An Interview with Todd Michney about “Surrogate Suburbs”

By Todd Michney & Thomas Lodato

Dr. Todd Michney is a visiting assistant professor in the School of History and Sociology at the Georgia Institute of Technology, a member of the research team of the Center for Urban Innovation, and now the author of “Surrogate Suburbs: Black Upward Mobility and Neighborhood Change in Cleveland, 1900–1980” available in March 2017 on The University of North Carolina Press. The following is an interview with Dr. Michney about his forthcoming book.

Thomas: Thanks for taking the time to talk to me about your book. The title of the book is really intriguing, and seems like a good place to start the conversation. What you mean by “surrogate suburbs”? What does surrogate connote in this context, and how do these neighborhoods differ from typical suburbs?


Todd: Our understanding of “how the suburbs happened” -– with federal, state, and local policies like redlining and zoning shaping unequal access on the basis of race –- has grown dramatically in the past two decades. Small pockets of African American settlement did exist on the suburban periphery from the early twentieth century on, a phenomenon explored by historians like Andrew Wiese. However, the vast majority of African Americans were prevented from living in suburbs, which actually became more exclusive with the advent of mass suburbanization in the 1940s and 1950s, when large numbers of middle and working class whites were enabled to become homeowners through preferential financing arrangements like FHA- and VA-insured mortgages. Therefore, for nearly the entire period I cover in the book, upwardly-mobile middle class blacks searching for better-quality housing outside of crowded, inner-city neighborhoods gravitated to the “outer city,” peripheral neighborhoods that took on significance as what I call “surrogate suburbs.” Arriving as early as 1900 and initially settling in compact enclaves, they strove to build sustainable communities and expanded into previously all-white areas in the decades after World War II. Many such outlying city neighborhoods contained recently-built, single-family housing, further underlining the significance of these places for middle-class African Americans as “surrogate suburbs.” This situation continued until the civil rights reforms of the 1960s began to open up at least some bona fide suburbs to black homebuyers, a dynamic that gained momentum by the late 1970s. Today just over half of African Americans live in the suburbs, and while a middle-class (often elderly) remnant still lives in the outer-city areas I study, many are disproportionately burdened with foreclosures and other challenges also facing some “inner ring” suburbs since the Great Recession.

Thomas: Your book offers a counter-narrative to how many historians explain the experiences of black people during this period of urban change and discriminatory planning practices. Could you briefly contextualize who and what you are responding to, and why you think these accounts are insufficient?

Todd: The policies I mentioned earlier -– along with federally-funded urban redevelopment plans and interstate highways that displaced large numbers of mostly poor, nonwhite urban residents while facilitating white suburbanization -– have been explicated by historians like Arnold Hirsch and Thomas Sugrue as determinative: these scholars argued that African Americans were essentially powerless in the face of large-scale structural forces, which were compounded even further by institutionalized racial discrimination in employment and the antagonism of white residents –- who in cities like Chicago, Detroit, Birmingham, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and yes, Atlanta, not infrequently resorted to violence in attempting to maintain racial segregation. This scholarship was incredibly important, and extremely valuable because it served to counteract popular narratives blaming the racially-polarizing 1960s (and black residents themselves) for urban “decline.” However, I argue that this rendition underestimates the agency and ability of upwardly-mobile African Americans to formulate creative strategies for acquiring land, financing, and housing, and for building and maintaining communities at the urban periphery. In Cleveland, which is my case study, some such methods included securing financing through black-owned insurance companies, tapping the expertise of African American building tradesmen, allying with politically-progressive whites and lobbying the city administration for equal protection (in securing access to public swimming pools, for example), and leveraging white fears about property values to generate rapid turnover of newer, desirable housing. Some such strategies proved controversial, and even middle class blacks faced discrimination and the creeping effects of disinvestment that eventually reached these outer-city neighborhoods. However, African American residents of these areas maintained their viability at least until 1980 and surely did not imagine them as what Arnold Hirsch termed a “second ghetto” enabled by racially discriminatory housing policy.

Thomas: I know you are a native Clevelander. Beyond living in the area, how did your experience growing up in Cleveland influence your research in terms how you understand black upward mobility or the particular angle you present?

Todd: Probably my most formative early experiences here came through my father who worked as a teacher and guidance counselor in the Cleveland Public Schools, specifically in the overwhelmingly-black East Side neighborhoods that I would ultimately come to study. Two of his older co-workers who became dear family friends were typical of the home-owning black middle class I profile in the book: dual-income families with working wives, which was actually an economic strategy upwardly-mobile African Americans pioneered before it became mainstream. One of the husbands had been a chauffeur starting in the 1930s, a service job but well-paid with considerable responsibility entailing proximity to wealthy and powerful whites; driving for the local gas company, he purchased stock shares that along with his wife’s work as a teacher’s aide cemented their economic security. I also attended a Catholic grade school for three years which was about one-third black, being located in Shaker Heights, nationally known for its race relations initiatives since becoming a destination for upwardly-mobile African Americans in the late 1950s; and, I grew up in the suburban Orange School district which has a historic African American enclave in Woodmere, as well as a large Jewish population. In Cleveland among other cities, Jewish neighborhoods frequently transitioned to become black ones, a dynamic that was especially pronounced because Cleveland not only had one of the largest Jewish populations of any major city, it had the second-highest percentage of Jewish population after New York.

Thomas: As you mention, the book provides an account of black upward mobility that does not simply paint black residents as victims of structural forces, such as the well-known practice of redlining. Instead, you seek to historicize how black residents navigated the social, political, and financial landscape of Cleveland to own land, establish neighborhoods, and countermand segregation. As such, agency is an important concept for you, and comes to the fore through a host of strategies and tactics employed by residents. Could you provide a few instances of how residents both exercised and understood their agency?

Todd: Before answering the question, I want to provide a little background for where the evidence came from. Besides my conventional training as a historian, I benefitted from nearly five years’ work as an archivist, which made me proficient at using organizational records and personal papers; my source base for the book is quite a bit more “manuscript intensive” even than many other similar 20th century historical monographs. I also learned to conduct oral histories, which allowed me to ask questions of informants about topics not covered in the written record; in all, I conducted about seventy-five interviews with current and former neighborhood residents. Working at the Western Reserve Historical Society also familiarized me with doing genealogical research and specifically sources like the U.S. Census, city directories, and marriage and death records; becoming interested in how African Americans acquired land and property, I went further and taught myself to use public records like deeds, mortgages, and building permits that can reveal the contours of ordinary people’s lives. Learning to use GIS, I used these data sources to map African American settlement and homeownership patterns with unprecedented precision. It also allowed me to illustrate black homeseekers’ agency and visualize their housing choices which might not otherwise have been so readily apparent.


I found numerous examples of African Americans exercising agency in various ways, over nearly the entire course of the 20th century. These included purchasing land before race-based deed restrictions could be applied, and tapping all available financing streams –- even profit-minded whites willing to issue them mortgages. Researching the individuals involved, I concluded some of these transactions came through face-to-face work and business relations –- the wife of a white dentist with offices in Cleveland’s main, inner-city black residential district lending to (presumably) one of his clients for a house in an outlying African American settlement, for example. A number of black men used creative self-employment –- purchasing a truck for hauling being a notable one -– to circumnavigate the racially-discriminatory job market. And in the decades after World War II when the neighborhoods I study became overwhelmingly African American, organized middle-class residents formulated an intensely local, nearly all-encompassing reform agenda based around quality-of-life issues, chalking up some notable successes such as restricting the availability of liquor and winning traffic safety and infrastructural improvements.

Thomas: As you well know, Atlanta has complicated racial history, much of which is still evident in the current shape of the city, from roads abruptly changing names to placement of highways and parks. One current controversy deals with the BeltLine, a light-rail line that will circle the city that the New York Times recently referred to as “a glorified sidewalk”. From the beginning, many have criticized the BeltLine because of its “lopsided investment” that neglects historically black neighborhoods. Recently two prominent figures in shaping the BeltLine stepped down because of the lack of affordable housing initially-planned-but-seemingly-forgotten as a priority. Given your research and recent move to Atlanta, could you reflect on this current development project in light of your book?

Todd: One theme to emerge from my research is the value African Americans have placed on green space (parks, playgrounds), as well as the idea that recreation could provide a healthy outlet for youth who otherwise might resort to “unwholesome” activities. This older middle-class worldview may seem a bit naïve and outdated now, but there is a line of reasoning with continuity to today’s understanding of the BeltLine as providing an unqualified good in terms of recreational space and green infrastructure. Gentrification in Cleveland (as compared to Atlanta) is limited to certain neighborhoods having historical cachet, and does not result in the same degree of population displacement because there is still a substantial oversupply of housing in the city and metropolitan area as a whole. The neighborhoods I cover in Surrogate Suburbs are not seeing a substantial influx of younger, more affluent buyers, although there are a few developments of rehabilitated historic properties and new townhouses that are attracting mainly young black professionals. There is also a push to install more bicycle lanes as an eco-friendly form of transport that may constitute a parallel to what we’re currently seeing in Atlanta.

Thomas: This summer prominent Black Lives Matters supporter, political activist, and rapper Michael Render (aka Killer Mike) advocated that people move money to black-own financial institutions, such as Citizens Trust Bank (based in Atlanta) in order to put pressure on governments, politicians, and the private sector to address claims of systemic injustice (including police violence) targeting people of color. In your book, you mention the role of black financial institutions in breaking down de facto segregation. Could you explain how these financial institutions fostered such change?

Todd: Excellent to mention the example of Citizens Trust, which put up the money to build quite a few Atlanta subdivisions for black middle-class buyers.  In Cleveland, African American-owned financial institutions also provided crucial lifelines to a small but significant portion of the community despite being somewhat fragile. There were several black-owned Cleveland banks and mortgage companies in the pre-Great Depression era, one of which purchased a large tract of land in the city’s southeastern corner that offered African American buyers better life opportunities, not to mention its significance in setting the future vectors of black population expansion into the metro area’s southeastern suburbs. Although these institutions went under as a result of the Depression, a more stable one (Quincy Savings & Loan Co.) emerged in the post-World War II era, which made many loans that helped expand black access to new neighborhoods, including in suburbs like Shaker Heights. Black-owned insurance companies in Cleveland and elsewhere also frequently financed mortgages when mainstream banks were unwilling to do so. Interestingly, these companies typically saw themselves as business-minded and not necessarily obligated to attack the segregated housing market of the time. Quincy’s bank director, asked whether that institution might refuse to do business with white-controlled banks in order to leverage fairer lending practices, said “we’re not trying to do any race relations job,” but rather to make a profit for their investors. In other words, he was confident that the purchasing power of the African American buyers whose home loans they approved, as well as the investors who purchased stock in the company could not help but contribute toward rectifying the situation. Although this seems overly optimistic in retrospect, it was a common mentality among upwardly-mobile middle class blacks during the period I study, especially in the 1950s and early 1960s. It also did not preclude civil rights activity –- another one of Cleveland’s black city councilmen, who introduced a fair housing ordinance, also sat on Quincy’s board of directors at the time.

Thomas: Now that you have finished this book, what’s next? How are you carrying over your research interests into new projects and publications?

Todd: In completing the book I became especially intrigued by Southern-trained black building tradesmen, many of whom migrated north starting in the World War I era and who encountered discrimination in the white-dominated building trades, yet still provided hundreds of homes plus built institutions like black churches and fraternal lodges. In my next project, I expect to explore the kinds of training they received at historically-black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and how black builders and developers successfully operated in the racially-segregated housing markets of the pre-civil rights era. One of the country’s most successful black builders was based right here in Atlanta: W.H. (“Chief”) Aiken. I recently learned of an African American-owned construction firm, founded in the 1950s, that built numerous homes in the Bankhead area, and I hope to interview family members who still run a successor firm.

Thomas: Todd, thanks so much for taking time to answer my questions.

Holiday Reading: UN Habitat III in Quito

As the Northern Hemisphere braces for the holiday season and its accompanying wintry weather, we at CUI wanted to offer up an option for reading material through our break, December 12th through January 9th. While we’ll  still have two more blog posts before going on hiatus, below is the summary (and some links for further reading) on a recent development in an important topic to all cities, housing.

Image courtesy Pakhuis de Zwijger and Global Policy Journal

The United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) was held from 17 to 20 October 2016 in Quito, Ecuador, and concluded with the adoption of the New Urban Agenda as the primary product of the one-every-20-years Conference. This Agenda acknowledges the speed and importance of the increase in urbanization worldwide, and cities’ unique ability to guide and support sustainability efforts going into the future. The Agenda sets global standards for truly sustainable urban development that also focuses on equity.



To learn more, try some of the Suggested Reading:

Read the Adoption of the final outcome of the Conference (English), and learn more about the New Urban Agenda here.

The Habitat III press kit contains concise, intriguing information on the conference, Habitats I and II, and more.

Press coverage, such as by CityLab and the BBC was generally positive, though global development organization Devex criticized the New Urban Agenda’s lack of specificity, while The Guardian questioned equity of Quito residents’ inability to participate.

The U.S. State Department also offered its thoughts on Three Reasons Habitat III Matters for Successful and Sustainable Urbanization.

Within the industry, Smart Cities-oriented organization 100 Resilient Cities released a post discussing how the work done at the conference ties into other urbanization concerns, such as gender equality.



Mortgages, Data, and Disclosure: Current Research on Homeownership in New Latino Destinations

An interview of Allen Hyde by Todd M. Michney

With the passage of the 1975 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HDMA), Congress required American banks to disclose data about where they lent for homes, in order to determine patterns of investment after mounting evidence emerged indicating that discriminatory lending and disinvestment since the 1930s (“redlining”) was negatively impacting the quality of life for urban areas and exposing residents to potentially abusive credit terms. HDMA’s disclosure requirements were updated in 1989 to include the reporting of race and ethnicity on the level of the individual borrower, and the resulting data serves as a useful measure of progress toward more equitable lending. Legislation like the HDMA, the 1974 Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) were intended to tackle structural inequalities difficult to remedy using 1960s civil rights laws, and originated in grassroots campaigns by neighborhood activists like Chicago’s Gale Cincotta. To this day, some local groups have succeeded in leveraging improved credit access through HDMA and CRA, and an estimated $1.7 trillion was redirected to urban areas already by 2004 as a result of such legislation.

Nevertheless, studies indicate that African Americans and Latinos continue to be disadvantaged in home mortgage markets. Especially in the wake of the Great Recession and subprime mortgage crisis in the United States, it is important to understand how housing policy continues to produce unequal outcomes. HDMA and CRA have had their shortcomings and limitations, but still serve in protecting the opportunities for minority homeowners to build wealth. Whether they will continue to do so is an open question, with even stricter reporting requirements debuting through 2018 currently meeting considerable pushback from the banking industry.

Allen Hyde is an Assistant Professor in Georgia Tech’s School of History and Sociology, who along with coauthor Professor Mary Fischer of the University of Connecticut, analyzes HMDA data to study the seemingly counterintuitive relationship between increased Latino access to mortgage financing in the lead-up to the 2008 housing crisis, and higher observable levels of segregation. Whereas existing research on Latino homeownership has been largely limited to historic areas of residency, Professor Hyde focuses on newer destination cities in the country’s interior and the South, of which Atlanta is one. He answered several questions on what this data can tell us and about national and local patterns of Latino homeownership.

Plaza Fiesta, a Latino-oriented mall in metro Atlanta, a “new destination” city. Image via the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

TM: What are Latino “new destinations,” and what does it mean that we seem to be seeing simultaneously rising homeownership among Latinos alongside increasing segregation rates in these cities?

AH: Starting in the 1980s, changes in immigration policy and the economy shifted Latino migration away from cities in established destination areas like California, Texas, and Florida to “new destinations,” often located in the South and Midwest. Latino communities have been developing over the last few decades in medium to large Southern cities like Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, and Washington, D.C., meaning they moved into areas that have historically been overwhelmingly either black or white. Because Latinos were a small percentage of the population and thus were less likely to be pushed into racialized neighborhoods, they tended to be less segregated in new destinations in the 1980s and 1990s. However, other scholars like Daniel Lichter, Matthew Hall, and colleagues note that Latino-white segregation in such cities has increased rather dramatically over the last decade or so. Interestingly, this has simultaneously come at a time when Latinos have seen rising incomes and increased homeownership as a result of the Housing Boom of the early-mid 2000s. Given that homeownership signifies higher status and the achievement of the American Dream, one would predict that Latino homeowners may be less segregated from whites than their Latino renting counterparts. My colleague Mary J. Fischer and I are conducting research to determine if new Latino homeowners, as opposed to renters, still find themselves in segregated neighborhoods in new destination cities during the Housing Boom.

TM: How has this played out in Atlanta? Will you give us more of a sense of the Latino population dynamics and homeownership pattern here?

AH: Our research can speak to what is happening in Atlanta in several ways. First, Latinos are the largest ethnic grouping within Atlanta’s immigrant population, after Asians. Second, Atlanta, and Georgia more generally, has experienced dramatic growth in its Latino population. Most Latino Atlantans have origins from Mexico; however, there are sizable Puerto Rican, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan populations, as well as communities from other parts of Latin America. Furthermore, Atlanta is a diverse but segregated city. As of 2010, Latino-white segregation was substantially lower than black-white segregation, but was still moderately high.

Overall, Atlanta is emblematic of Latino migration patterns for new destinations, which comes with both good news and bad news according to our research. Increased socioeconomic status and homeownership should decrease segregation between whites and Latinos, thus policies that promote homeownership can be used to promote integration in the metro area. However, subprime loans, predatory lending, and other real estate practices can potentially negate the positives of homeownership. Local real estate agents and mortgage lenders should be required to provide full disclosure on the details of fixed versus adjustable rate mortgages to their customers, and they should be trained to recognize and avoid racial and ethnic biases that may seep into their everyday practices.

At the same time, Atlanta’s relatively high levels of racial residential segregation raise questions about where Latino newcomers fit into the existing racial/spatial hierarchy. It is unclear whether we can expect homeownership to reduce segregation for Latinos in the future. This depends on the extent to which racialized housing markets for Latinos develop, as well as the neighborhood ethnic preferences of whites in response to demographic changes in their communities (which are especially difficult to address through policy). Finally, escaping to the suburbs no longer means upward mobility in economic and social status. Poverty rates have been increasing in the suburbs while we have seen middle class whites begin to return to the city through gentrification. These patterns will shape the neighborhood compositions of the Atlanta metropolitan area over the next decade or so.

TM: How has HMDA data traditionally been used by researchers, and do you have any general thoughts on the particular usefulness of such public data sets, in what they can tell us about lending and homeownership patterns and policymaking?

AH: HMDA data have traditionally been used by economists to look at patterns of loan denial, subprime lending, and “redlining.” These studies are more in line with the original intent of HMDA, which was to aid in the enforcement of fair lending laws. We are using these data in a somewhat different way to look at the neighborhood characteristics of new homebuyers. This type of detailed, individual level data is not publicly available at the neighborhood level of geography through other data sources with housing information, such as the U.S. Census, American Community Survey, and American Housing Survey. The annual nature of it in addition to the fact that it is whole population data (e.g., not a sample), makes it a particularly powerful dataset to test theories of neighborhood access and assess changes over time. While longer historical perspectives on race, ethnicity, and homeownership are important, we decided to focus on the period 2000 forward because this included the peak of the housing boom, as well as the bust so that we could see whether neighborhood access for Latinos changed in the wake of broader housing market shifts.

The Handbook of Manufacturing Industries in the World Economy (2015): Now Available in Paperback

by Jennifer Clark

manufacturing-front-cover The Handbook of Manufacturing Industries in the World Economy, edited by John Bryson of the Birmingham Business School, Jennifer Clark of the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Vida Vanchan of Buffalo State is now available in a paperback edition.

The Handbook of Manufacturing Industries in the World Economy provides a critical and multi-disciplinary state-of-the-art review and analysis of current manufacturing processes, practices and policies. Expanding our knowledge and understanding of production and innovation, this collection demonstrates that manufacturing continues to matter in the world economy.

The contributors, including scholars ranging from engineering to policy to economic geography, cover manufacturing policy and the revival of the industrial base in the US, UK and Canada and engage national and regional strategies for implementing advanced manufacturing policies. Questions of economic resilience in the wake of the recent recession are asked, and industry and firm case studies are utilized in an international comparative context. Applying a wide range of international cases from the US, EU, Australia and Asia, this approach allows readers to view transformations in production systems and processes across sectors, technologies and industries.

Students, scholars and policymakers in the fields of public policy, economic geography, city and regional planning, and business and management will find this collection invaluable in understanding how firms and industries adapt, through dynamic and design-driven strategies, to produce for established and emerging markets.

Chapters highlight how firms and industries modify existing processes to produce for established and emerging markets through dynamic and design-driven strategies. This approach allows readers to view transformations in production systems and processes across sectors, technologies and industries.

In the foreword, Sir Mike Gregory from the University of Cambridge, UK comments, “This book represents a major contribution to our thinking about modern manufacturing industries – and is not just timely, it is long overdue! The authors have done an outstanding job in bringing to bear a range of multi-disciplinary perspectives on a domain which all too often suffers from rather narrow disciplinary analyses. Ranging from engineering to social science and drawing on examples from the US, Europe and Asia, the book provides not only a wealth of fact and illustration but a rich landscape to inform those charged with industrial policy and manufacturing strategies.”

In his book review in Economic Geography, Douglas Gress wrote, ‘In [The]Handbook of Manufacturing Industries in the World Economy, editors Bryson, Clark, and Vanchan offer up a welcome addition to the manufacturing literature replete with valuable contributions from immensely competent researchers . . . The strengths of the Handbook are immediately apparent, and include the fact that contributions are provided by seasoned scholars, active scholars in mid-career, and budding scholars alike. The editors have thus ensured that the Handbook is well grounded while remaining topically fresh.’

Frank Giarratani, Center for Industry Studies, University of Pittsburgh further commented on the book that, ‘As industry practitioners know well from experience, generalization is hard to come by. Whether it’s manufacturing, services, or something in between, it’s the details that seem to matter most when it comes to determining outcomes. The value in this book is enormous because details tell the stories across a diverse set of industries. I applaud the editors and authors on their substantial achievement. Manufacturing and related supply chains are dynamic, and this book is rich with information that offers deeper understanding about the processes involved.’

The book is available from the publisher, Edward Elgar, as well as other venues such as

The book, organized into five sections and over thirty chapters, includes the following contributions:

Manufacturing Matters: Space, Place, Time and Production
Jennifer Clark, John R. Bryson and Vida Vanchan


  1. Manufacturing Management in Theory and Practice
    Paul L. Forrester
  1. Manufacturing and Labor
    Sally Weller
  1. How Does Financialization Affect Manufacturing Investment? Preliminary Evidence from the US and UK
    Susan Christopherson
  1. Manufacturing Logistics
    Peter V. Hall
  1. Reshoring and the ‘Manufacturing Moment’
    Margaret Cowell and John Provo
  1. Relocation of Production Activities and Underlying Social Dynamics: An Analytical Framework based on a Canadian Perspective
    Patrice Jalette
  1. Tool-less Manufacture: Digital Fabrication, 3D Printing and the Third Industrial Revolution
    Michael Ward
  1. Engineering and Manufacturing: Concurrent Maturation of xRL
    Ben Wang, William C. Kessler and Andrew Dugenske
  1. Energy and Manufacturing: Technology and Policy Transformations and Challenges
    Marilyn A. Brown and Gyungwon Kim
  1. Design and Manufacturing: The Competitiveness of American, European and Chinese Industrial Design Companies
    Vida Vanchan and John R. Bryson
  1. Intellectual Property and Patents: Knowledge Creation and Diffusion
    Dieter F. Kogler


  1. Manufacturing Textile Futures: Innovation, Adaptation and the UK Textiles Industry
    Megan Ronayne
  1. Finding a Future for the US Furniture Industry
    Susan Walcott
  1. New Geographies of Advanced Manufacturing: The Case of Machine Tools
    Ronald V. Kalafsky
  1. Farm Machinery: A Changing Path to Feed the World
    Dawn M. Drake
  1. Hidden in Plain Sight: The North American Optics and Photonics Industry
    Jennifer Clark
  1. Traditional and Emerging Markets in the Global Steel Supply Chain
    Carey Durkin Treado
  1. Intermediate Manufacturing: Profit, Dependency and Value Attainment in Supply Chains
    Rachel Mulhall
  1. Aerospace Manufacturing: Past, Present and Future
    Colin G. Drury
  1. Manufacturing Stoke: Emergence, Transformation and Consolidation in the Surfboard Industry
    Andrew Warren and Chris Gibson
  1. Migrant Manufacturing: Translocal Production and the Establishment of a Polish Bakery in Birmingham, UK
    Catherine Harris
  1. Skoda Auto: The Transformation from a Domestic to a Tier Two Lead Firm
    Petr Pavlínek
  1. Samsung: Restructuring, Innovation, and Global Networks
    Sam Ock Park


  1. Stability Amid Industrial Change: The Geography of U.S. Deindustrialization since 1980
    Marc Doussard and Greg Schrock
  1. Searching for Advanced Manufacturing in the United Kingdom and United States: Definitions, Measurement and Public Policy
    Finbarr Livesey
  1. National Manufacturing Policy, Local Real Estate Markets, and the Missing Region: Prospects for Urban Industrial Development in the US
    Laura Wolf-Powers
  1. The City and Industry: Deurbanizing Manufacturing in New York City?
    Lynn McCormick
  1. Manufacturing in the Knowledge Economy: Innovation in Low-tech Industries
    Teis Hansen and Lars Winther
  1. Crafting a Comeback: Cultivating an Innovative Ecosystem in Mature Regions
    Maryann Feldman and Lauren Lanahan
  1. From Skill Mismatch to Reinterpretation: Challenges and Solutions for Manufacturing Worker Retention and Recruitment
    Nichola J. Lowe

Regeneration Economies: Manufacturing as the Next Industrial Revolution
Jennifer Clark, John R. Bryson and Vida Vanchan