Who’s at the helm? Smart jobs indicate smart city growth

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What is in a name? In the case of smart cities, changes in job titles indicate a larger commitment from communities to reallocate time and priorities to focus on smart initiatives. From the very broad to the extremely specific, these decision makers are changing the way we live, do business, and even catch a ride every day.

Chief Design Officer


Smart cities provide tools and services to their citizens, but a user-friendly design is imperative for adoption. The Chief Design Officer (CDO) will focus on the user experience and needs.

“The CDO carries three roles: those of a design professional, a reinforcer of city brand, and a visionary of future solutions,” said Roose Murto in Helsinki Design Week. “The most important objective is to make the city a functional environment for all – citizens and companies alike.”

Chief Resilience Officer


Catastrophic and unforeseen events, as well as the impact of stresses on a community over time, are tended to by the Chief Resilience Officer (CRO). This person might look at climate change, flooding, aging population, unemployment, terrorism, and other long-lead issues.

Chief Citizen Officer

When we theorize about the potential of a Chief Citizen Officer (CCO) in the future, this role won’t only exemplify the viewpoint of the citizen but will also consider the direction that livability is taking in a given community. A CCO will ensure that, in all decisions and with all growth, the citizen’s perspective is front and center.

“Things like transportation, education, healthcare, community events, parks and recreation, housing affordability, employment, communications and social media – all would fall under the domain of the chief citizen officer,” writes Mark Pivon, author of The Rise of The Chief Citizen Officer.

Chief Bicycle Officer

The Chief Bicycle Officer (CBO) oversees bike share programs, public outreach, and other activities related to promoting a bicycle-friendly community. Cities of the future are more sustainable and allow easier and safer mobility in dense urban areas.

Chief Innovation Officer

The data created by smart technologies is immense and also a city’s greatest tool in identifying needs and implementing solutions.  A Chief Innovation Officer understands the technology working within the city, helps analyze data and strategize a way forward. In some cases, a CIO will look ahead to future needs and plan for those, as well.

Chief Digital Officer

Chief Digital Officers help convert analog activities into digital ones, making the use of city technology more seamless, efficient and accessible. In many cases, this role is a new take on Chief Technical Officer.

Chief Sustainability Officer


A Chief Sustainability Officer ensures that sustainability efforts become enmeshed with operations and development, as cities advance. Sometimes, those projects are easily visible to citizens – urban apiaries, rooftop gardens, and alternative transit options. Other times, the responsibilities include land use planning, conservation, preparing for climate change, and other long-lead efforts.

Every city is different, and positions that make sense in one place may not be as great a priority as another. Who is leading the charge in your community?