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The smart city concept lacks a set of coherent criteria for evaluating its effectiveness as an urban management system, its compatibility with human rights principles, and its contribution to a democratic, participatory, social urban regime. The author explains why Lean Thinking principles can be applied to evaluate the ‘smartness’ of cities and serve as guidelines for improvement.
Discussion and conclusions
Since its introduction into the motor industry in the USA, Lean Thinking has migrated to different types of organizations, including in the public sector, notably in health care (Esain et al., 2008), but also in other public services (Radnor and Boaden, 2008; Radnor and Walley, 2008b; Radnor, 2010; Scorsone, 2008). However, it has rarely been employed in urban management. Urban management is experiencing profound changes as major cities strive to become ‘smarter’ and in doing so are using vast amounts of sparse resources with big corporations heavily involved. These developments need a coherent set of operational guidelines and a clear set of criteria for evaluation.
Lean Thinking is highly compatible with the smart city principles from economic, social, environmental, and democratic viewpoints. Its well-established methodology and tools can serve as a set of criteria for evaluating smart cities, as well as a set of guidelines for action.
The case study in this article was the Tel Aviv Smart City project as presented by the municipality. The actual implementation of the project, nor its outcomes, were evaluated. Further studies are needed with evaluations of smart city projects and to validate the use of Lean Thinking in these projects.