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In June 2022, Dr Richmond Juvenile Ehwi and Dr Hannah Holmes presented their work on smart city governance at the ‘Beyond Smart Cities Today: Power, Justice and Resistance’ Conference. The dynamics of urban governance which lead to the selection of specific areas of focus for smart city initiatives. It draws upon semi-structured interviews with council officers, local politicians, and others with a knowledge of smart city governance across seven cities in England. The research highlights how the arrangements of governance embedded in these cities – and where smart city governance sits within the overall local governance structure – shapes the smart city, not least through influencing the types of initiatives which are selected. It considers how the decision-making process in the selection of areas of focus is variously centred around existing city services; is understood as pragmatic; emerges from urban entrepreneurialism, and is driven by national and global policy agendas and events. Case study details are drawn upon to highlight how specific local circumstances and approaches to governance lead to the development of smart initiatives in locally contingent ways. How smart cities are governed, who is involved in this governance, and how and why particular agendas for local smart city initiatives emerge have clear implications for urban justice.