My presentation will explain why the board of the Journal of Urban Technology was interested in producing a focus issue on the SmartCities Project. In the US, the term “smart city” has been appropriated by transnational corporations. Their definition of that term, thus, gets traction internationally. Perhaps no corporation’s smart city campaign is bigger than IBM’s with its Smart Planet effort that focuses on cities. That corporation takes a systems approach to the operation of cities. This entails using sensor technologies to gather data, using new analytic approaches to analyze the data, modeling that data, and then managing a client city’s systems based on those models. The stated goals of the program are urban efficiency and global sustainability. Sustainability and efficiency are also the selling points of the smart cities visions of other corporations such as Siemens and Cisco. While the papers in the focus issue of JUT do not argue that cities should be inefficient or unsustainable, they offer an additional task for the new technologies that make smart cities possible—that task is to offer innovative means for citizens to learn about, and participate in, the democratic operation of their government. It is this detailing of innovative means that can now be used to increase democratic participation in the creation and use of government services and government operation that makes this focus issue an important contribution to the international conversation on smart cities and the technologies that enable them.