On the Table: Smart Cities

On November 8, 2018 ESI hosted an On the Table roundtable converging local government, business, and public transit leaders to discuss smart city initiatives and how they will possibly affect urban communities including Philadelphia, and other cities around the world. Attendees represented organizations including the Office of Innovation & Technology with the City of Philadelphia, Pennoni, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, SEPTA, as well as ESI senior advisors.

Dr. Richard Voith, President and Principal, Dr. Daniel Miles, Vice President and Associate Principal, and Rebecca DeJoseph, Senior Analyst contributed expert insights.

Themes that came up included:

  • City maturity: The more mature a city is, the more likely that city is to use technology and involve the public, businesses, and the community to use these technologies.
  • Challenges with smart city initiatives: This includes things such as IT and infrastructure. Cities are looking to standardize technology, but can struggle to integrate it into their communities, businesses, and government.
  • Perception issues between government, business, and citizens and how to narrow the gap.

During the exchange, Smarter Cities 2025, (ESI ThoughtLab’s program to be launched next week) which examines smart city initiatives on a global scale was highlighted. The program benchmarks 136 cities, spanning 55 countries. Dr. Miles offered five key takeaways the thought leadership team learned from the project, and previewed Philadelphia’s maturity level for smart city initiatives. Rebecca DeJoseph highlighted the types of questions that were asked in the surveyed cities, including questions in topics such as mobility, the environment, crime, and more asked among government, citizens, and businesses. She noted that the 11 proxy cities surveyed were at different levels of the maturity stage that represented different levels of economic development, population size, and geographic location, this included “Leader” cities, “Transitioning” cities, and “Beginner” cities.

On the Table Philly, is a forum designed to heighten civic conversation, build new relationships and create a memorable and unifying experience for everyone. The Philadelphia Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation partnered to bring On the Table to Greater Philadelphia. In 2017, over 300 conversations On the Table Philly conversations were held across the Greater Philadelphia region to highlight issues at the community level. The hopes of these conversations are to inspire new ways for neighborhoods to work together to make communities stronger and safer.

ESI ThoughtLab is the thought leadership arm of Econsult Solutions, Inc. For Smarter Cities 2025, ESI ThoughtLab’s team of economists conducted in-depth benchmarking surveys of government leaders in 136 cities around the world to understand their smart city perspectives, practices, and performance results. 750 business leaders were also surveyed, along with 2,000 residents in 11 representative cities with varying levels of economic development, social and geographic diversity, and smart city maturity.


Lindsay Durkalec is a marketing assistant at ESI where she supports the Business Development team. In addition to assisting with proposals, Ms. Durkalec is responsible for enhancing ESI’s brand and work through traditional and social media, content development for the web, and managing the ESI blog, Present Value.

Mike Daly  is a marketing assistant at ESI. In addition to assisting with proposals, Mr. Daly is responsible for enhancing ESI’s brand and work through traditional and social media, content development for the web, and managing the ESI blog, Present Value.

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