How to Use the Readiness Guide: Page 2 of 6

Smart city responsibilities

Cities have essential functions and services that must be available every day. Homes must have water, businesses must have power, waste must be collected, children must be educated and so on. In the Readiness Guide, we refer to these vertical city functions as responsibilities. Although not all of them fall under a city’s direct control, all of them are essential to everyday life and commerce. The nine city responsibilities are:

  • Built environment. In the Readiness Guide, built environment refers to all of a city’s buildings, parks and public spaces. Certain components of the built environment – including streets and utility infrastructure – are not emphasized here because they are treated in other responsibilities (transportation and energy).
  • Energy. The infrastructure to produce and deliver energy, primarily electricity and gas for powering virtually all services and needs, processes and comfort.
  • Telecommunications. This term can have several different meanings. The Readiness Guide uses the telecommunications responsibility to refer to communications for people and businesses. We use connectivity to refer to communications for devices.
  • Transportation. A city’s roads, streets, bike paths, trail systems, vehicles, railways, subways, buses, bicycles, streetcars, ferries, air and maritime ports – any and every system that relates to citizen mobility.

  • Health and human services. The essential human services for the provision of health care, education and social services.
  • Water and wastewater. The infrastructure responsible for water – from collection to distribution, to use and finally reuse and recycling. Pipes, distribution centers, catchment areas, treatment facilities, pump stations, plants and even the water meters at private homes are all essential components of this responsibility. Water purity and cleanliness are also addressed here.
  • Waste management. The infrastructure responsible for the collection, distribution, reuse and recycling of waste materials.
  • Public safety. The infrastructure, agencies and personnel to keep citizens safe. Examples include police and fire departments, emergency and disaster prevention and management agencies, courts and corrections facilities.
  • Payments and finance. Payments link a payer and a payee and refer to all the key contributors involved: government services, merchants, consumers, businesses, banks, payment instruments providers, payment schemes. Payments sit at the heart of the economic activity in cities and form the core component of every economic flow including salaries, consumer spending, business procurement and taxes. They have become so systematic that they often go unnoticed.