The emergence of smart cities, seen in the evolution of cities in both top-down and bottom-up approaches, generates or is concurrent with a transformation of governance. To go back to J. Pierre’s typology (1999), it is a question of at the same time effectively (and efficiently) managing public services (like commercial services), integrating interest groups in decision-making, or even putting in place tools for participatory democracy, improving collective well-being in an inclusive process and generally, trying to favour economic development by expecting growth. The results reasoning is consistent with the processes reasoning, without it always being possible to distinguish a possible hierarchy of the aims within these projects, which are tools for public action.
The governance of Smart Cities can be centred on the citizen/uses or on interest groups; innovations may be dedicated to the quest for profit by service providers or well-integrated by inhabitants into their practices; the data, at the heart of the new measures, can even form the foundation of the creation of value without clearly organizing feedback to their producers and finally, the participation of citizens can prove to be illusory, impossible or not yet adapted.
The plethora of public-private partnerships in the Smart City projects results in a new distribution of roles, both for the improvement of public services (concern for public governance) and for the development of participative platforms for citizens (condition of validation and legitimization for public governance) and it is a question of understanding how different actors and their objectives express themselves. Data is exploited by algorithms, which can establish themselves as new forms of public governance (Rouet, 2019) in an ideology of increased neutrality and effectiveness, since human error is eradicated (Kitchin, 2015).