Smart city definitions fail to explain how technology mutually supports goals beyond efficiency. This is the sentiment of Newgeography staffer Kris Hartley who explains how the constraint theory of governance also applies to smart cities.

According to constraint theory of governance, efforts to maximize the speed or capacity of individual production stages do little to improve the speed of systemic throughput. As it applies to smart cities, output is more broadly seen as political, social, and economic:

Technology is only one component of this complex system; it is the butter, not the bread. Operating within the broader context of a dynamic society and body politic, the power of smart city technology is dependent on strategic and functional integration of urban systems. In other words, technology is only as effective as the governance priorities and capabilities underlying it.

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