Because of different processes like economic restructuring, socio-demographic processes and technological progress cities are facing new challenges in the run of their recent trends of urbanization and metropolisation. These processes are assumed to have specific impacts on the cohesive territorial development in economic, social and spatial terms. As a consequence new strategic governance approaches became necessary steering development in different fields. In this context rankings have experienced a remarkable boom.
In front of this development, this paper concentrates first on the question how to define a ‘smart’ city which is able to cope with such challenges. Based on this understanding the own ranking approach („European Smart Cities“) is described systematically. Based on a hierarchical approach with a sample of relevant factors the paper describes in short how cities cope with the results and what are typical reactions of local governments and stakeholders. In this context two specific urban strategies for steering development and processes of learning in general, but especially with respect to urban governance, are discussed within this paper. Finally, the paper elaborates that here the buzz-word ‘smart’ is not used in an explicit technology perspective but in a clear place based understanding similar to the EU-Territorial Agenda 2020. Accordingly an outlook describes how ‘smart’ will be used and understood in a place based and territorial perspective including technological impacts.