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Smart Growth in 2020

Tad McGalliard

Tell us what you think the future holds for smart growth strategies, policies and programs over the next decade? What innovations at the local level will we see? What are the drivers affecting change? What challenges must be overcome?


Jay Gsell
Jay Gsell said

Smart Growth, livability/sustainability and adaptive reuse will continue to be the guidance and watchwords by which we will all be moving forward. Not so much "Innovation" as finally getting away from 19th century governance and methods for dealing with human and capitol development and a greater focus on regionalism, consolidation, true collaboration and the recognition that scarce resources are going to get even more so and that domestic priorities must be reengineered to comport with a 20-30 yr strategy for investment and reinvestment in infrastructure and social "systems" that will be value added and transformative. Workforce training, middle skills careers and education connected to actual emerging job markets will be critical to community viability and sustainability. A wholistic approach, not categorical/silo responses to problems and solutions that are laser focused and expedient would seemingly be more realistic and supportable at the Federal and state levels. Feds must extricate themselves and us from foriegn entanglements that have no seeming end plan and keep revisiting the failed 60's/70's policies we witnessed in Vietnam and now Iraq and Afghan. Our manifest destiny and Democracy need to be recommited to our own shores and private sector investment concentrated in goods. services and facilities that take into consideration long term success and employment that provides the essential benefits for both individuals and families in new urbanism communities and profitable capitolism will likely be a natural byproduct of these strategies..

William Gilmore

Good question. Smart growth ideas aren’t essentially new. But the willingness to step away from the old management systems that were pyramidal to a flatter organization that delegates to trusted and talented department heads who will share responsibility for success and failure will be the new normal. Delegation is not new either but it hasn’t been the standard. The new social media rolling out across the U.S. and internationally will change how governments do business in a good way. But with all good things, there are negative consequences. These will include leaner organizations with more reliance on connectivity for day-to-day transactions. From Council’s using laptops for meetings to mobile I-pads in work vehicles, to on-line permit issuance and payments, to web-hosting of committee meetings from multiple locations. This is all doable today but many government organizations are not set up nor committed to take the risk to work in this fashion. In many cases, governments are not wired for this nor do many management teams have the understanding or the wherewithal to bring this to fruition. Communication from the City Manager’s office who can champion this change, set the vision, and explain and train their councils to agree to fund the necessary infrastructure improvements to establish leaner organizations, must be the beginning for reviving what taxpayers perceive as inefficient operations. Managers must develop dashboard displays that give them the information to assess how each department is performing against performance benchmarks set for them. This means department staff must begin to collect information differently and on an open architecture platform that allows for data transfer to occur seamlessly and efficiently. Thomas Friedman, a New York Times columnist said, “L is for leadership [and] in a social world, leaders need to inspire and empower everything coming up from below in a company or social movement and then edit and sculpt it with a vision” for a targeted outcome.
The innovation teams that have been promoted by ICMA represent the foundation for getting the conversation started. But government will need to maintain a relationship with the private sector who have already broken down many of these organizational roadblocks to efficiency because to them, it’s a profit loser to allow inefficient systems. To government, its breaking down a fiefdom who don’t want to change from their comfort zone, its addressing conflict that may have a union component and management doesn’t include representatives in the discussion, and so on. But these conversations have to begin and everyone has to be in the conversation to build trust and to buy in to the potential that change can bring. This will lead to the sustainable organization and it will be the new standard.
Bill Gilmore
William B. Gilmore, LLC
666 Plainsboro Road, Suite 435
Plainsboro, NJ 08536

Marcy Zimmerman

I'm just starting to browse around the Knowledge Network and came across this thread. I wonder how practices have changed since this was written in 2011? I'd love to hear from those agencies that are making meetings and agendas available online, or enabling citizens to request services online, or equipping field workers (inspectors, public works, etc.) to use mobile devices. How has it impacted your city? Has it resulted in leaner organizations, or has it given your employees a chance to do a batter job and deliver services faster? Bill - Tad - are you still out there?

Lijun Luo
Lijun Luo said

When I am browsing on ICMA Knowledge Network, and found this interesting question that Tad asked in 2011. After four years, more and more people are talking about Smart City here in China. I am so wondering if any relation in between or difference in between. Chinese Government take very quick action to adopt various technologies to build cities as smart as called. So if any constructive advices any would like to offer, that will be most appreciated. Lily

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2 Sep 11
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