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Chapter 7 Smart Communities and the Geo-Governance of Social Learning "We need to shift away from the notion of technology managing information and toward the idea of technology as a medium of relationships" Michael Schrage Introduction A smart community is one that learns fast and well. Learning makes the highest and best use of all the community's intelligence andresources (intellectual, social, physical, financial, personal, etc.) throughthe use of all availablephysical, social, and behaviouraltechnologies, including the new information and communication technologies (NICT). One must guard against the temptation on the part of the technologically-inclined to ascribe the "smartness" of communities to the presence of NICTs. Given the wide range of factors contributing to the success of a smart community, it is unwise to reduce "smartness" to sheer connectedness or to a problem of wiring. A smart community is first and foremost a community—i.e., a fuzzy geopolitical entity that has assets, skills, and capabilities, but also a soul, a collective intelligence, and a capacity to transform (i.e., to learn). The fact that, in order to transform, it may use NICTs extensively, is not inconsequential, but it remains a subsidiary phenomenon.A smart community may be smart without NICTs. Indeed, NICTs are only the tip of the iceberg. The hidden and most significant portion of the iceberg is an ensemble of mechanisms, instruments, and perspectives, generally subsumed under the labels of collective intelligence and social learning. These are the basic forces that make the community ever smarter as it continues to learn. 131 The New Geo-Governance Collective intelligence and social learning mobilize and marshal intellectual, informational, physical, andhumanresources in ways that produce a continuous flow of additionaluseableknowledge. This intelligence-cum-learningendeavour creates a geo-governance challenge: the challenge of uncovering the best way to organize geo-technical communities ofpractice so that they can makethe highest and best use of collective intelligence, and so ensure effective social learning when resources, power, and knowledge are widely distributed. This chapter explores why smart communities are important: how they work, and how,through avarietyof means, citizensmighthelpmaketheircommunities smarter. Why smart communities are important and how they work In a knowledge-based socio-economy, extensive growth (through additional human andphysical capital) does not suffice to ensure socio-economic progress. Much depends on the capacity to ensure that the different inputswork everbetter together, and therefore on the development of improved forms of collaborative organization that will fully tap into the collective intelligence, and generate effective learning. The lack of intensive growth—growth based on a capacity for continuous technical and organizational innovation—is by all accounts the source ofthe productivity slowdown inmany socio-economies, and ofthe relative decline in their standard of living. Silo-type activities or conflictive turf-wars are disconcerting: they stunt the cooperation and co-evolution that are at the core of effective learning and productivity increases (Paquet 1998). The extent of the disconcertion and dysfunction of an organization, a community, or a socio-economy has therefore much to do with the inadequacy of what Alfred Marshall called "organizational capital". Organizational capital refers to the internal organization of the units, the network of relationships (region, district, etc.) within which it is embedded, the set of capabilities they embody, the ways in which they are working in synch, and the socio-technical infrastructure required for all this to work (Loasby 1991). As Marshall put it, "capital consists in a great part of knowledge and organization; and, of this, some part isprivate property andtheother part isnot" (Marshall 1920:138). Much of | it is intheform ofinfrastructures, rules, and social capital that are part ofthe | commonwealth of relationships, networks, and regimes. I Collaboration and innovation demand the sort of organizational capital that jj is capable of generating and supporting effective concertation, but only to the \ point where some degree of freedom and discretion are left with all partners j for discovery and learning. A lacklustre performance is therefore prima facie \ evidence that the organizational capital in place is inadequate where generating \ 132 I ! Smart Communities and the Geo-Governance of Social Learning both the requisite coherence that ensures the needed collaboration, and the right looseness, imbalance, and tension likely to trigger innovation, is concerned (Granovetter 1973). While organizational capital is not the only basic input necessary for organizational effectiveness, community success, national productivity, and socio-economic progress, it is one of the key inputs, and the most important enabling factor in these processes. It is also one of the most difficult ingredients to inject...


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