Document Type

Book Chapter

Book Authors/Editors

Brett M. Frischmann, Michael J. Madison, and Madeline R. Sanfilippo eds.


Cambridge University Press

Publication Date



This case study brings new attention to a critical but under-appreciated dimension of so-called “smart” cities: how smart city governance builds and relies on institutionalized sharing of data, information, and other forms of knowledge across all sectors of public administration. Those smart city practices are referred to here as knowledge commons and systematized using the Governing Knowledge Commons (GKC) research framework. That framework extends and modifies Ostrom’s research tradition as to community-based resource governance. As with other GKC-focused research, this work relies on a qualitative case study. It draws a detailed, context-specific portrait of a smart city as knowledge commons governance. The case is Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Its contemporary smart city identity is detailed both with respect to recent uses of technology-dependent systems and also with respect to Pittsburgh’s political, economic, and social histories. Pittsburgh’s smart city is building on rather than displacing decades-long governance cultures and traditions. Knowledge commons analysis shows how the smart city may be evolutionary rather than revolutionary.