12 SMART Goals Examples for Urban Planners

Have you ever wondered who meticulously designs our cities, ensuring they are functional and aesthetically pleasing? The answer is urban planners, professionals who shape the face of our urban environments.

They are the architects of our cities, who choreograph the urban symphony of buildings, roads, and public spaces. Their work is not just about planning spaces but also about creating communities, enhancing livability, and ensuring sustainable development.

Urban planners must set SMART goals to promote efficiency. This methodology is a tangible link between the conceptual and implementation stages of urban development projects.

Here, we will explore examples of SMART goals that urban planners can use to guide their projects toward success. You’ll better understand what makes a goal SMART and how to apply it in urban planning.

What is a SMART Goal?

The SMART framework is a highly effective tool that can assist urban planners in setting goals to boost their competence and creativity. SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.

Are you curious about its application? Let’s explore each element of SMART:


Urban planners must set specific goals to enhance their expertise. Instead of stating, “I want to improve my urban planning skills,” pinpoint the area you want to enhance, like “I want to develop more sustainable city infrastructure.” This specificity paves a clear path toward achievement.


The ability to measure progress is vital in urban planning. If you aim to increase the number of eco-friendly buildings in a city, decide on a number you can aim for each month and endeavor to increase that figure.


When pursuing a significant objective, it’s advisable to begin with smaller, manageable tasks. For instance, if you aim to master a new urban design software, don’t attempt to learn everything at once.

Break the process down into simpler steps, starting with understanding the basic features before delving into the more advanced functionalities.


Creating relevant goals is a critical step in career advancement. Suppose you aspire to design a revolutionary eco-city; your objectives should mirror this ambition.

You might need to learn about sustainable materials, green energy sources, or innovative city planning approaches. Relevance is key as these goals will turn into valuable strides toward excellence.


Becoming an expert in urban planning doesn’t happen instantly; it demands tenacity. Having a solid timeline can facilitate this journey by keeping you driven. It acts as a guide, leading you through each phase of your learning process.

12 SMART Goals Examples for Urban Planners

1. Enhance Public Transportation System

“For the next two years, I’ll enhance the capacity of the public transportation system by increasing the number of bus routes and implementing a bike-sharing program in major city centers. This will improve accessibility and reduce car reliance, ultimately reducing carbon emissions.”

Specific: You have defined the goal to enhance the public transportation system for two years.

Measurable: Progress can be measured through data on increased ridership and reduced car reliance.

Attainable: It’s realistic to implement an increased number of bus routes and a bike-sharing program in two years.

Relevant: Enhancing public transportation aligns with urban planning goals for sustainable and accessible cities.

Time-based: The SMART statement has a deadline of two whole years.

2. Improve Walkability and Bikeability

“I aim to improve walkability and bikeability in the downtown area over 16 months. I’ll add designated bike lanes and improve pedestrian infrastructure to encourage active modes of transportation and create a safer environment for pedestrians.”

Specific: The goal is focused on improving walkability and bikeability in the downtown area.

Measurable: You could count the designated bike lanes added and improvements to pedestrian infrastructure.

Attainable: As an urban planner, you likely have the knowledge and resources to implement these changes.

Relevant: This goal aligns with creating a more livable and sustainable city for residents.

Time-based: Goal achievement should be expected after 16 months.

3. Reduce Traffic Congestion

“Traffic congestion is a significant issue in many cities around the world. That’s why I want to help decrease traffic congestion in this city by 20% in three years. I’ll target the downtown area, which is the most heavily affected, by using a new traffic management system.”

Specific: Reduce traffic congestion in the downtown area by at least 20%.

Measurable: Use data analysis to track the change in traffic congestion regularly.

Attainable: It’s possible to implement a traffic management system with the help of city officials and transportation experts.

Relevant: Decreasing traffic congestion will lead to less air pollution, improved public transit efficiency, and increased quality of life for residents.

Time-based: You have a clear timeline of three years to reach optimal success.

4. Increase Affordable Housing Options

“I’ll increase access to affordable housing options in the city by 10% over three years by implementing zoning policies that incentivize developers to include more affordable units in their projects.”

Specific: You plan to increase the number of affordable housing options in the city.

Measurable: A quantifiable metric is used—a 10% increase in affordable housing options.

Attainable: Zone policies can be adjusted to push developers to include affordable units.

Relevant: This pertains to the community’s needs and addresses a pressing issue for urban planners.

Time-based: You have a three-year time limit to accomplish the desired result.

5. Promote Sustainable Development

“I want to develop an urban planning project that promotes sustainable development in my city for the 5 years ahead. That includes reducing the carbon footprint, improving air quality, and preserving natural spaces.”

Specific: Your aim is to promote sustainable development in the city.

Measurable: Make sure to measure the carbon footprint, air quality, and natural spaces before and after the project.

Attainable: You have a realistic timeline of 5 years to implement this project.

Relevant: Sustainable development is a vital issue in urban planning and has long-term benefits for the city’s residents.

Time-based: There is a 5-year window for goal completion.

6. Create Safe and Inclusive Public Spaces

“Public spaces are not just for aesthetics but also safety. Hence, I plan to design spaces that promote social interaction, improve accessibility, and enhance security within a year.”

Specific: Design safe and inclusive public spaces in urban areas for one year.

Measurable: Survey to understand the community’s needs for public spaces, the social events held in these spaces, and reported crime incidents.

Attainable: Collaborate with local authorities and community members to understand their needs and concerns.

Relevant: Creating safe public spaces is crucial for promoting community well-being and reducing crime rates.

Time-based: The SMART goal is time-bound, with a deadline of one year.

7. Revitalize Neglected Neighborhoods

“The urban planner must work closely with local government and community leaders to identify neglected neighborhoods that require revitalization. For four years, they will target communities with high poverty rates or crumbling infrastructure.”

Specific: The planner will select neglected neighborhoods over four years.

Measurable: This will be evaluated by the number of neighborhoods identified and the condition of infrastructure.

Attainable: With cooperation from local government and community leaders, this can be met within four years.

Relevant: Revitalizing neglected neighborhoods can improve living conditions for residents and boost economic growth in these areas.

Time-based: Your goal statement will be reached after four years.

8. Strengthen Disaster Resilience

“Over the following decade, our city aims to increase disaster resilience to reduce the impact of natural disasters on our community. That is, we’ll ensure the city is prepared to respond and recover from disasters on time.

Specific: Develop an emergency response plan for each neighborhood in the city, outlining protocols and resources available during disasters.

Measurable: Conduct annual drills to test the effectiveness of emergency plans and identify areas for improvement.

Attainable: Work with neighboring cities and organizations to share best practices to succeed.

Relevant: These efforts are vital to safeguarding the well-being of citizens while minimizing damage to infrastructure in the face of natural disasters.

Time-based: A decade is a reasonable timeline to accomplish the goal.

9. Facilitate Equitable Access to Basic Services

“By the end of 5 years, we’ll ensure universal access to affordable and quality basic services, including water, sanitation, and transportation for all residents in urban areas. This involves building new infrastructure and rehabilitating existing ones.”

Specific: Ensure universal access to affordable and quality services for 5 years.

Measurable: Check for the number of residents with access to basic services.

Attainable: Any new infrastructure projects can be funded by the city’s budget or through partnerships with private companies.

Relevant: Urban planners are responsible for creating livable cities for all residents.

Time-based: You have 5 years to meet this particular goal statement.

10. Preserve Cultural and Historical Landmarks

“I want to be more active in preserving the cultural and historical landmarks of my city for the next 6 years. To do so, I’ll create a plan to protect these landmarks through zoning laws and community outreach programs.”

Specific: You’ll laser-focus on preserving cultural and historical landmarks.

Measurable: Track the number of landmarks protected and the level of community involvement.

Attainable: You likely have the authority as an urban planner to implement zoning laws and community programs.

Relevant: Preserving cultural landmarks is essential for maintaining the identity and heritage of a city.

Time-based: You’ve established a 6-year end date for excellence.

11. Implement Smart City Technologies

“My goal is to introduce at least three new smart city technologies over two years. These technologies will be chosen to improve the quality of life for residents, increase sustainability, and reduce costs.”

Specific: The urban planner has explicit actions to introduce three new smart city technologies.

Measurable: It will be assessed by the successful implementation of the chosen technologies.

Attainable: Only some technologies are achievable in some cities, so the planner should research technologies that are feasible for their city.

Relevant: Smart city technologies are becoming increasingly important as cities face increasing population, climate change, and resource constraints.

Time-based: The goal is to utilize these technologies over a two-year period.

12. Collaborate With Community Stakeholders

“I’ll work with community stakeholders to plan a new park in the downtown area in two years. It will include holding public meetings, conducting surveys, and engaging with local business owners to determine the community’s needs.”

Specific: Plan a new park in the downtown area with community stakeholders for two years.

Measurable: Ensure you follow the listed action items (hold public meetings, conduct surveys, engage with local business owners).

Attainable: It is possible to plan a new park in the downtown area with the help of stakeholders within two years.

Relevant: The new park could benefit the community and foster sustainable urban development.

Time-based: You have a time frame of two years to complete this project.

Final Thoughts

As we look towards the future, remember that the power to shape our cities lies in our hands. The goals we’ve outlined, from reviving neglected neighborhoods to fostering disaster resilience, all contribute to creating vibrant and sustainable cities.

Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work—our cities and their residents deserve our best efforts. Together, we can transform these visions into reality, creating urban spaces that flourish today and for generations to come.

Photo of author

Rei Shen

Rei is the founder of Success in Depth. Based in Washington, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. He brings years of experience in goal setting to empower readers to reach their aspirations.