A Proposal for Principled Decision-Making: Beyond Design Principles

Madelyn Rose Sanfilippo, Brett M. Frischmann

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter outlines a forward-looking, intelligent approach to thinking through and evaluating supposedly smart systems. First, it clarifies that it is not the city that is smart. Rather, smartness is better understood and evaluated in terms of affordances supposedly smart tools provide actual people. Who gains what kinds of intelligence? For what purposes? Subject to what governance? Second, it identifies and addresses key challenges to intelligent governance in smart city projects. Cities must move beyond a transactional mindset, appreciate how smart systems become an integral part of the built environment, and develop appropriate governance. Third, it proposes an approach to smart city governance grounded in local, contextual norms and scaffolded by key questions to ask throughout smart city planning, procurement, implementation, and management processes. This approach is importantly not oriented around Elinor Ostrom’s famous design principles, but rather a shared set of evaluative questions to guide decision-making.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGoverning Smart Cities as Knowledge Commons
EditorsBrett M. Frischmann, Michael J. Madison, Madelyn Rose Sanfilippo
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9781108938532
ISBN (Print)9781108837170, 9781108940405
StatePublished - Feb 2023


  • knowledge commons
  • smart cities


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