Urban governance & planning

© Konstantin Sutyagin - Fotolia

Governing the transformation towards a smart city

© pressmaster

Apart from the eight fields of innovation directly targeting specific sectors in a city (mobility, energy, etc.), three cross-cutting areas of innovation are present in all areas of urban life and must be considered consistently. One of the cross cutting themes is urban governance & planning, or the “steering” of urban systems. Governance of the city can be both: "top-down", coming from the city authorities, as well as "bottom-up", characterized by impulses from civil society and other non-state actors. The governance arena is characterised by interaction in various forms between many different actors.


Why is governance and planning so important?


Various early lessons from the Morgenstadt Initiative made clear that effective political leadership is of significant importance for the transformation process towards a sustainable and smart city. A strong leadership, stimulating innovative strategies, motivated city employees, a committed and unified city or municipal council and a wide-reaching and well-executed citizen participation activities are important preconditions for effective interventions.

For whom is this field of innovation interesting?


For everybody! The Morgenstadt Innovation Network provides your city or your company with valuable tips and suggestions in this important field of innovation. In this context, the network can also assist in improving collaboration between cities and companies. With extensive experience and expertise in know-how of the interdisciplinary Fraunhofer team, we understand the way cities, as well as companies function. 


Supporting internal governance processes within a city


An important starting point is to better understand political framework conditions determined by the city’s own policies. We know the basic political constellations of many different cities and can therefore provide suitable comparisons with national or international pioneer cities. The ambition is to facilitate the diffusion of best practices through learning and to highlight areas where local conditions should be adapted. One example of this is the development of a Smart City Charter. Recommendations can be developed by key actors in the city and set into motion by decision-makers as an important early step towards becoming a smart city.

How can you prioritize the steps that need to be taken in your city? There are tools for this in our toolbox. The Morgenstadt City Index can assist, for example, a city employee or even a high-ranking leader to see in which areas their city performs very well and where it is falling behind.

© Thomas Ernsting

Integrated planning


A second important factor linked to urban governance is integrated planning. "Silo thinking" is regularly identified at the source of many challenges faced by cities. The pursuit of sustainability demands an integrated approach, but the sustainability agenda in many cities is still conducted by departments divided along sectoral lines that do not work together effectively. Einther in the framework of individual projects, City Labs or innovation partnerships, we help bring the relevant actors together and implement concepts collaboratively to overcome this disjointed approach.


Facilitating citizen participation through digital technologies


Effective integration of citizens and stakeholders in urban development has emerged as an important challenge for cities. New media and online-based participatory procedures offer great potential for sustainable urban development. However, digital channels such as social media, online petitions and new interactive forms of participation significantly amplify friction between citizens and policy makers. For many cities and municipalities, the cost and benefits of digital participatory procedures are disproportionate. Management of online-based citizen communications requires a lot of human resources and  often does not generated tangible benefits. On the contrary, in some cases these channels are dominated by the overwhelming minority that push a narrow agenda.

A range of approaches and instruments for the effective management of digital participation and citizen communication processes already exists. However, the is still lack of practical application support, simplified solutions and professional expertise, which would help municipalities to rise above the harsh reactive communication and exploit the full potential of digital media for participation.



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