An expert city manager from the US has reflected on Adelaide as a ‘smart city’.

The South Australian Government wants to lure innovative companies to the state from tech manufacturing fields in particular.

Meanwhile, Adelaide City Council is looking at a range of investments like sensors to regulate city parking and operate lighting.

Martin O'Malley, the former mayor of Baltimore, former governor of Maryland and former United States presidential contender, says smart cities need more than just gadgets.

“Smart cities work to make themselves more inclusive — socially, economically and politically,” he said in an address to a smart cities conference this week.

“[They] are healthier cities [and] work to make themselves more sustainable.

“Smart cities understand the tides of change and seek to take advantage of them.”

Mr O'Malley said cities at the forefront of change were thinking about effective transport systems, energy efficiency, accessibility, security and technology.

“The next generation is yearning for closer connections and the ability to be free of the burden and bondage of a car,” he said.

“They want to live, work, play — be able to walk, or ride their bike to where they need to go.

“People are coming back to cities that are better governed, smarter, safer and more vibrant places.

“Lots of people are having to change careers and upskill themselves.

“The movement is very, very real and will be the hallmark of the next 100 years of our development on the planet.”

Mr O'Malley said Adelaide would be a smart city of the future, if leaders are interested in “governing for the people”.

“I'm talking about the investments in life science and biotechnology,” he said.

“You obviously have big investments coming in defence [and] South Australia was, I think, the first place where you've tested the driverless car.”