Empowering Cities through Data Driven Governance (E-Governance)

A city’s administration holds supreme responsibility for securing a data-driven city. Using data to manage city operations and service delivery is significant as data is the heart of a smart city. More and more physical devices now share data and respond to digital commands through the Internet of Things (IoT). But how does this digital intelligence help us to better understand urban challenges and improve city services?

“Electronic Governance (E-Governance) is the integration of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in all the processes, with the aim of enhancing government ability to address the needs of the general public. The idea is to simplify processes for all, i.e. government, citizens, businesses, etc. at National, State and local levels.”

The technological transformation in the urban environment begins with the digitalization of government and municipal services, enabling city administrators to deliver public services efficiently via the Internet. It encourages city dwellers, residents and general urban population to participate in decision making and rely on government leaders to take advantage of technology, improve city operations, enhance urban livability and ensure safety.

"Technology must be applied thoughtfully to achieve smart city."

Urban data can now be gathered from a wide range of organizations and places. However, the new technologies also pose critical risks to safety, security and to vital city functions. Hence the foremost challenge faced by cities is how to synthesizes and make useful the data coming from many differing formats and categories.

The Components of Smart Governance

According to (Tomor et. al 2019) the main components of smart governance  are as follow:

1- Governmental Organization: The first building block of smart governance is the organization of government. This term entails a whole range of sub-facets such as motivation, vision and strategies, attitudes, decision-making, process coordination, and roles and responsibilities, as well as the provision of financial, regulative, technological means and human resources, knowledge management and organizational culture, etc (Przeybilovicz et al., 2017).

2- Citizen participation (and, consequently, government-citizen collaboration):  The second building block of smart governance, and one according to the literature that offers huge potential, is citizen participation. Citizens can offer useful and helpful suggestions for government agencies to arrive at better informed policy decisions (Al Hujran et al., 2013; Stratigea et al., 2015; Anttiroiko et al., 2014; Singh Kalsi and Kiran, 2013).

3- The use of Technology: The final building block of smart governance is the use of technology, in particular ICTs. Applying digital technologies in participatory governance processes aiming at sustainable urban development.

The Digital City Strategy of Cape Town

Cape Town being placed as one of the major cities to be at the forefront of national smart city development, it makes effective use of technology to optimize the management and invest in other major infrastructure. Its smart city strategy comprises four pillars: Digital Government, Digital Inclusion, Digital Economy & Digital Infrastructure. The idea behind developing the Cape Town’s Digital City Strategy is to strengthen transparency and human rights compliance by enhancing service delivery and promoting citizen engagement through ICT. This is done by simplifying citizen and business interaction with government and enhancing ‘evidence based-decision making by the City’. This strategy aims to achieve the objective by establishing citizen-centric channels for gathering data that facilities ‘interactive citizen engagement’ using internal and external data sources in an evidence-based approach to policy development. Moreover, the city’s Open Data Policy highlights transparency and data sharing (if effectively adopted) enabling the city to be a caring and responsive government and  empowering citizens to hold the city to account.

The forces of urban transformation unleashed by the wide deployment of smart technologies will continue to produce social and economic benefits as well as disruptions. Cities must manage these changes in urban life, mitigating negative consequences while capturing the benefits. The transformation must bring together all parties—community members, businesses, civic and religious organizations, non-governmental organizations and charities, municipalities, and governments—to combine efforts to this end.



  • Odendaal, N. (2016). Getting smart about smart cities in Cape Town. Smart urbanism: Utopian vision or false dawn, 71-87.
  • Ni Loideain, N. (2017). Cape Town as a smart and safe city: implications for governance and data privacy. Journal of International Data Privacy Law, Forthcoming.
  • Tomor, Z., Meijer, A., Michels, A., & Geertman, S. (2019). Smart governance for sustainable cities: findings from a systematic literature review. Journal of Urban Technology26(4), 3-27.
  • Smart and Safe : Risk Reduction in Tomorrow’s Cities, 2019


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