NYU Wagner-USCM Institute for Mayors Provides Framework for Future Smart City Solutions Using Digital Data and New Technologies

NYU President Hamilton, his wife Jennifer, and Wagner Dean Sherry Glied pictured with the 2018 NYU Wagner-USCM Institute for Mayors participants

NYU Wagner has become the hub of a new, one-of-a-kind incubator to help mayors around the country harness changing technologies and make their cities run smarter.

Under the guidance of faculty members and urban affairs experts Gordon Campbell and Neil Kleiman, NYU Wagner is partnering with the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) to launch the Mayors Leadership Institute on Smart Cities and will work closely with city leaders to develop, implement, and manage technology-assisted solutions.

NYU Wagner hosted mayors of cities large and small on Dec. 5-7 for the inaugural Smart Cities Institute meeting and will bring together participants twice yearly from now on. It will also provide participants with information, such as a resources handbook.

In addition to participants sharing ideas and working on integrating new technologies, elected leaders will have the opportunity to craft guiding principles for smart city development – principles as well as learnings aimed at improving city governments’ relationships with vendors, potential tech partners, and workforces around technologies. The first meeting included the mayors of Baltimore, MD; Austin, TX; Dayton, OH; Columbia, SC; Topeka, KS; and many others.

According to Campbell and Kleiman, a need exists for clear standards and financing strategies for the development of 21st-century cities. In an effort to help mayors make sense of the vast array of new technological tools that could address potential issues such as affordable housing, crime, public transit, and citizen engagement, the Smart Cities Institute will provide practical skills and best practices in peer-to-peer settings.

NYU Wagner Dean Sherry Glied addressing reception attendees

In effect, the Smart Cities Institute flips the current industry-led dynamic, positioning municipal leaders to define priorities and build a model that fast-tracks growth and efficiency for cities across the country. “I would call it a laboratory to ground mayors in really understanding what a smart city is, the intricacies and complexities of it,” Kleiman explained.

Added Campbell, “Working together across cities offers an opportunity to do more than any one city can accomplish on its own.”

USCM President and Columbia, SC Mayor Steve Benjamin said the appetite and momentum in connection with harnessing of digital data and technology “to meet the challenge of doing more with less” are growing in urban America.

“Technology alone can’t solve every urban problem,” he said, “but it’s a powerful and cost-effective tool for helping cities accelerate progress. As natural incubators of innovation, cities have an opportunity to step up and lead at this critical time. Ultimately, the Smart Cities Institute is about empowering mayors to be better leaders.”

NYU Wagner is proud to partner with the USCM on the Smart Cities Institute.

“NYU and universities as whole play an important role in helping cities address today’s critical public service challenges,” said NYU Wagner Dean Sherry Glied. “As a recognized leader in the urban space, we are excited to collaborate with mayors here in New York City—one of the world’s most vibrant urban epicenters—on their efforts to create ‘smarter’ cities.”

The Mayors Leadership Institute on Smart Cities is supported by Verizon, The Knight Foundation, and Parsons.

President Hamilton shaking hands with one of the institute participants
The 2018 NYU Wagner-USCM Institute for Mayors participants
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