Is there a common understanding of your city’s assets? Is there a common appreciation of your city’s assets? How do you identify your strategic assets? What assets have the most leverage in creating a smart city? What investments would pay the greatest dividends? Does your city have misperceptions about its assets? Are investments being made in marginal assets that could have more impact in other areas? Is your city making investments based on copying other cities’ successes? How are proven strategies in other cities validated for your city?
How healthy is your downtown and what indicators should you use for that measurement? Do you have strategies and plans to enhance and improve it? What is the state of the neighborhoods around the core? Is downtown safe, vibrant, clean and open around the clock? Is your city’s living room downtown and is it known for its diversity and tolerance? Does downtown have a thriving residential sector? Does downtown serve as a magnet for young workers of the knowledge economy? What downtown strengths are undervalued and deserve greater investment? Are the strengths of downtown used to improve adjacent neighborhoods?
What natural assets are unique for your city and are they fully leveraged? What cultural peak experiences have the potential to make a national statement about your city? What choices are being made in targeting investments in assets that pay the highest dividends? Does your city evaluate the value of arts and culture in terms other than economic ones? Will your investments in natural and cultural assets elevate them to their potential? Are your city’s marketing efforts selling your natural and cultural assets?
How well are the assets of your universities integrated into the life of the city’s cultural and economic strategies? Do your universities see themselves as catalysts for community analysis and problem-solving? How do your universities encourage and nurture creativity in your city? How do the energy and vitality of university students serve as positive forces in city-building? Is the intellectual power of your universities applied to community problems? Is the intellectual power of your universities applied to community problems? Do the public and private sectors take advantage of the resources of the universities in their work? Do your universities identify their campus as the entire city?
Does your city have an identifiable brand that speaks to a higher purpose? Is your brand embraced by all sectors of your city? How does your city brand differentiate you from other cities? What investments are made to market your brand both externally and internally? Is there community-wide acceptance of your brand? Is your brand based on reality and research? Does your city resonance match your city reality? Do all city marketing build on the same brand promise?
Does your city have an interesting texture and a design ethos that understands the potential of small-scale opportunities? Are there formal design efforts to encourage stronger urban design? Does your city have a tradition of urban design? Does your city have an effective wayfinding system? Are public works projects seen as opportunities for improving on the details?
Is your civic problem-solving characterized by entrepreneurship and innovative solutions? Doe you have entrepreneurial leadership both in the private and public sectors? Is either public or private leadership underperforming in terms of civic leadership? Do you have programs or commitment to nurturing entrepreneurial leadership? How can nontraditional sources, such as the arts, be used to infuse creativity into the civic arena?
Does your city have a sense of place that is reflected in marketing/planning/strategic investment? What geographic and physical characteristics are unique? Ware their geographic and physical characteristics that are underutilized and underappreciated? What could be done to enhance your city’s sense of place? Are investments being made to enhance your sense of place? Is the city clean and green? Is the city visually appealing?
Are policies on growth creating two cities – one of lower-income residents and minorities and another of higher-income and white? What is the state of first ring suburbs? Do new developments create neighborhoods with good quality of life for the long-term? Is there a collaborative approach to making growth-related decisions? Is there a process that evaluates the fiscal impact of growth before the public investments is made? Is the public process sensitive to all voices speaking on the issue?
Is your city a magnet for young, mobile knowledge workers? Does your city make strategic plans and take action to attract these workers? Does your city emphasize diversity and tolerance? Does your city make the kinds of investments that produce assets that attract these workers? What investments should be made to create a city attractive to these workers?
Do your public processes, engage all segments of the community? Are your public processes entrepreneurial and inclusive? Do you have a neutral ground where all status and prestige give way to egalitarianism in problem-solving? Is your public process distinguished by its open-mindedness and imagination? Does your city have an R&D process, former or informal? Does your city research strategies and programs found in other cities to drawn lessons from them? Are artists and performers involved in city problem-solving? Who acts as change agents for your city? Does your city encourage new thinking about old problems? Does your city welcome new ideas from all sectors of the city? Does your city nurture and encourage innovation?
Does your city prize public space as a community-building asset? Are you creating new open space and preserving public spaces in older sections of the city? Is there a shortage and inequity in the distribution of urban open space? Who and what effective organizations are advocates for parks and open spaces? Do you treat streets as open space? What public space gives identity to your city that can serve as models for future planning? Are you creating new public spaces for knowledge workers?
What are the best-loved characteristics of the city in the midsnof its people? What are the architectural characteristics of the city? How does the built environment convene a sense of place, identity and meaning of the city? Is there a commitment to preserving and perpetuating the original textures of the city? Do new buildings blend with older buildings in the cityscape? Are there design guidelines that preserve the unique DNA of the city?
Does the city use public art to enrich and honor its unique character? Are there incentives to encourage public art and urban design? Is public art used to create a more hospitable, appealing city? Does public art celebrate local history, people and events? Does public art inject humor and irreverence into city life? Does the city place value on artists and performers? How does the city demonstrate the value that it places on artists? Do artists serve as members of boards and commissions for the city and its civic organizations?
Do the city’s festivals reflect and celebrate civic character? Does the city produce festivals that are authentic and unique? Are the city’s festivals a unifying force in community life? Do festivals serve a strategic role in economic development, city branding, city-building, etc.? Are festivals inclusive and embrace all aspects of the city?
Does the city have a pedestrian network of streets? Does the city observe an environmental ranking for transportation: walking, biking, transit and street car? Is the city at ground level attractive to pedestrians and bikers? Does the city have a network of bike paths? Is the commitment to walking and bicycle paths citywide and not restricted to selected areas?
Are children considered in the planning and design of the city? Is the urban environmental engaging for children’s curiosity and intellectual growth? Does the urban environment teach lessons to children about the civic character and citizenship? Are there playgrounds for children? Does the city treat itself as a playground for children? Are there activities and events aimed at children? Are children affirmed and valued by the city?
Do city spaces reflect a sense of trust and belonging, compassion and tolerance? Does cityscape fight isolation? Do streets link diverse neighborhoods? Is a sense of belonging innate in city planning and design? Is design of the city a humanizing force?
Does a market serve as common ground, a place of tolerance and inclusion? Does a market occupy a special public place that encourages interaction and where people feel socially at ease? Does a market maximize theatrical characteristics? Is a market located in a conveniently central place? Does the market offer cafes? Does the city have outdoor cafes and restaurants? Are health codes conducive to outdoor eating? Are outdoor cafes located near lively public spaces? Are there outdoor cafes that humanize government spaces? Are there places for people-watching? Are there gathering places that attract people?
Are natural resources seen as amenities and economic development assets? Are scenic resources used as assets to market to tourists? Are scenic resources used to establish the image of the city? Are resources used to strengthen the image and attractiveness of the city? Are citizens given opportunities to learn from nature?
Does your city have a tourism marketing plan? Does your city have a brand that attracts visitors and distinguishes your city from other destinations? Does your city welcome visitors in an unmistakable way? Do visitors leave your city feeling that they are important to you? Does your city have a reputation for hospitality and friendliness? Does your city provide services that help tourists enjoy your city? Do visitors hear positive things about your city from your citizens? Do you take tourism for granted?
Does your city enjoy the differences between its ethic groups? Does your city treat everyone as valuable? Does your city demonstrate its commitment to diversity in an open and symbolic way? Is your city known for its open-mindedness and tolerance? Does your city welcome newcomers from all countries? Is diversity in evidence in your city? Are your public boards and commissions diverse in the makeup of their members? Does your city celebrate ethnic traditions?
Is city government known for getting the basics right? Is city government known for its effectiveness and efficiency? Is your city safe, healthy and clean? Does your city work to improve its schools? Is your physical infrastructure well-planned and efficient? Is your government known for its fiscal soundness? Is your tax structure invested in services that contribute to the recruitment of people and jobs?
Does your city have greenbelts, hiking trails, etc? Does your city treat its water resources as a source for active recreation, rather than as subject for a postcard image? Does your city have a well-organized park system that offers diverse recreational opportunities – sports, running, walking, biking, etc? Does your city have activities and places designed for seniors to remain active and come in contact with other generations? Is there a culture of healthiness woven into the fabric of the city?
Does your city have a water conservation program? Does your city have a recycling program? Does your city have a system of greenways and parks? Does your city preserve and plan trees and flowers? Does your city set air and water quality as priorities? Are there ample walking trails set aside in special places? Does your city place a priority on natural resources?
Are neighborhoods known for their special housing stock? Do neighborhoods encourage walking and gathering? Are neighborhoods so safe that there is street watching from the front porch? Are the people in the neighborhood known for their civic behavior – plantings, neighborhood improvement projects and evidence that they care for their homes and community? Are there strong, active neighborhood associations?
Is your city technologically connected to the rest of the world? Do your businesses operate on a global scale? Does your business leadership have a world view? Does your public leadership have a world view? Is there a strong sense of your city’s place in the global economy? Do your citizens have a mastery of language? Do your schools emphasize foreign languages and economic basics? Do your citizens see themselves as citizens of the world? Are your marketing materials translated into other languages?
Does your city have a balanced economic mix? Does your city have a media income that offers citizens a living wage? Does your city have a variety of jobs that allow citizens opportunities for progressively challenging jobs with relocating? Does your city offer science-based jobs? Do companies offer entrepreneurial opportunities for employees inside the business?
Does your city measure up nationally in significant factors, making it first, best and only? Does your city have a sense of significant factors it should focus on? Does your city invest energy in being significant in factors that do not matter – majoring on the minors?
Does your city confront problems as adventures, rather than obstacles? Does your city convene around your assets, predicting the future rather than just reacting to problems of the present? Does your city have a tradition of consensus problem-solving and open processes? Does your city implement its plans, or does it frequently meet to meet and see the final report as the outcome? Does your city have conveners for problem-solving from both the private and public sectors? Does your city have a structure that is open enough to allow for problem-solving processes to bubble up from the grassroots?
Does your city have rides that offer special moments and views? Does your city have rides that capitalize on water assets? Does your city have bridges for pedestrians? Does your city have parkways known for their scenery and for their lack of billboards? Does your city offer special public transits, such as trolleys or ferries? Does your city have bike paths that don’t cross streets?
Does your city have special places that are common ground for all people, where they can meet for business, for social visits or for celebration? Does your city have special outdoor meeting places that are inviting? Does your living room have outdoor cafes? Are your outdoor living rooms safe and inviting? Are there places that could be transformed into outdoor living rooms?
Is there recognition in your city that the economic unit is regional? Are there coalitions developing plans and priorities across governmental boundaries? Is there a process to develop a regional vision and a plan of implementation? Is there a process that brings regional governmental leaders together to discuss a common agenda? Do business leaders serve as catalysts for regionalism? Does your city identify operations and policies that should be addressed and assessed in a regional context?
Is there recognition that downtown requires special protection as the anchor of tax revenues and business? Is there a commitment to transportation and communications, key links to economic growth? Is there a common focus in the city for economic growth? Is there an understanding that the future of the city and its suburbs are inexorably connected and interdependent? Does the city and suburbs treat each other as adversaries, rather than as partners, pursuing their common stake in the future?
Is there a commitment to preserving the city’s first suburbs? Are there programs dealing with challenges facing the first suburbs specifically? Are first suburbs showing signs of decline? Are these suburbs and their roles in the economy being addressed as part of smart growth efforts? Are any incentives provided for first suburbs, particularly to keep their commercial uses competitive?
What event provides a ritual of hope for the community? What event has symbolic meaning for the city? What values are symbolizes the ritual event?