Supportive Regulations & Incentives

This theme paper introduces the role of regulations and incentives and how they enable decision-making authorities to steer behaviour and investments towards Smart urban change.

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Supportive Regulations & Incentives for Smart Cities

Regulations and incentives support Smart policies and help to capitalise on the benefits of Smart technologies. They enable the decision-making authorities to steer behaviour and investments, creating a desired future for their cities.

Key issues for
SmartImpact partners

Three areas were highlighted: urban mobility; buildings and energy; and data management.

A sustainable urban transport system relies on many different types of transport. Ideally, everything would work in harmony to provide citizens with a transport system to suit their needs.

Urban buildings, whether public or private, and the energy they consume are a big challenge to sustainable cities. Through better regulation, new buildings developers can be forced to meet higher environmental standards.

Fundamental to a shift in how cities use technology to manage and analyse data. It is a question of organisation and data governance. Central is the need for new policies that help to aggregate data from a range of urban sources.

Lessons learnt from
SmartImpact partners

Primary to change is local political endorsement. Stakeholder engagement needs to be at the heart of new policy with clear benefits, supporting evidence and a straightforward delivery plan.

In response to the urban mobility challenge the Spanish city of Guadalajara created regulations that required its transport providers to use 0.5% of their contract fee for public information campaigns.

One route for municipalities when introducing initially unpopular schemes is to trial the change. Stockholm used this model when bringing in a congestion charge system.

Stockholm also introduced an electric vehicle (EV) incentive system for taxis at its Arlanda Airport. EV taxis were given priority in customer queues, allowing them to generate better business.

Eindhoven set out to transform the way in which it could access data from third parties. Their data principles make it clear they only work with companies who were willing to share their data.

Smart policy characteristics

In order to drive positive Smart change, cities need to utilise the power of policies. As the governing body, the city has the important advantage of being able to define the rules of the game. The power to do this creates influential leverage points for change.

While the city can make policies, it also needs the support of other significant stakeholders. Cities need to create robust policies supported by research and analysis. The policies must reflect wider common goals, work for political players and be in-line with the city’s wider strategies.


Senior level commitment is imperative, great policies may fail because city leaders do not support them. From the very beginning the highest decision makers must be engaged. At the same time, for maximum buy-in the wider stakeholders, including users and citizens, need to be engaged.

Well designed policies can be fostered through trial projects. From there, case studies and good practice examples can provide demonstrable benefits, supporting evidence and a delivery plan for wider engagement. Data can be the bedrock of Smart policies and its use in cost benefit analysis can inform strategy and policy.

Supportive Regulations & Incentives for Smart Cities Case Studies