Cities are becoming digital and are aiming to be sustainable. How they are combining the two is not always apparent from the outside. What we need is a look from inside. In recent years, cities have increasingly called themselves Smart City. This can mean different things, but generally includes a look towards new digital technologies and claim that a Smart City has various advantages for its citizens, roughly in line with the demands of sustainable development. A city can be seen as smart in a narrow sense, technology wise, sustainable or smart and sustainable. Current city rankings, which often evaluate and classify cities in terms of the target dimensions “smart” and “sustainable”, certify that some cities are both. In its most established academic definitions, the Smart City also serves both to improve the quality of life of its citizens and to promote sustainable development. Some cities have obviously managed to combine the two. The question that arises is as follows: What are the underlying processes towards a sustainable Smart City and are cities really using smart tools to make themselves sustainable in the sense of the 2015 United Nations Sustainability Goal 11? This question is to be answered by a method that has not yet been applied in research on cities and smart cities: the innovation biography. Based on evolutionary economics, the innovation biography approaches the process towards a Smart City as an innovation process. It will highlight which actors are involved, how knowledge is shared among them, what form citizen participation processes take and whether the use of digital and smart services within a Smart City leads to a more sustainable city. Such a process-oriented method should show, among other things, to what extent and when sustainability-relevant motives play a role and which actors and citizens are involved in the process at all.
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