Design, Technology, and Innovation Projects

The unit of delivery is the team. - UK Government Digital Service

When the City of Austin applied for the U.S. Department of Transportation Smart City Challenge in 2016, we had the best, most diverse, cross-disciplinary, cross-sector team imaginable. By all accounts, the work this team did to answer the call advanced our progress on Smart Cities by about 3-4 years. The secret sauce is the team.


Self-organizing, cross-functional teams collaborate and plan adaptively, deliver early, while responding flexibly to change.


Teams meaningfully include the community in the design, production, and delivery of public value; they design with, not for, the community.


Teams begin with discovery, and iterate through testing and experimentation: they prioritize efforts on problems worth solving, and opportunities worth seizing.

Discovery phase feedback that led to this section

During and after the April 18, 2017 Smart Cities Council Readiness Workshop, we asked for advice from participants through an insights campaign. We learned:

“The City needs to develop guidance to support prototyping and experimenting in an ethical and transparent way.”

“Investment in the right skillsets, diverse perspectives, and human capital for the City is critical to the success (and even initiation) of projects.”

“Effective solutions require that we support dedicated teams with diverse skillsets and backgrounds.”

“Contributors noted many considerations for managing Smart Cities as a program, including: goals, maturity, measures, value/cost drivers, critical infrastructure, and key resources.”

“Contributors said the city needs to enable a state of readiness for agile and iterative implementation of projects.”

Challenge areas identified

  • How might we help smart city project teams work in agile, human-centered, and iterative ways?
  • How might we help project teams connect with the expertise or perspectives they need, whether inside or outside the City government?
  • How might we clarify ethics and standards for prototyping and testing?