12 min read

How Smart Cities Are Boosting Citizen Engagement

By Joe Appleton on Oct 19, 2020 10:00:00 AM

According to statistics from the United Nations Population Fund, over half of the planet’s population lives in cities. By the year 2030, it’s expected that around 5 billion people will live in urban hubs. As cities grow larger and have a greater impact on the environment, local governments will have to adapt to ensure that the needs of their citizens are being met.

Civic engagement is a key part of a city’s evolution. Input from citizens can help define the dynamic of a city. Unfortunately, citizen participation rates are lower than ever. In the past, cities could use town hall meetings and surveys to connect with their residents, but due to a number of reasons, modern governments aren’t connecting with their citizens like they used to. This can have numerous negative effects on a city, from an alienated population to the implementation of unpopular policies.

Because of this, it’s necessary for city governments to embrace new methods of inspiring citizen engagement.

Topics: Crowdsourcing Smart City Crowdfunding Citizen Participation Civic Engagement Competition Governance Citizen Engagement Participatory Budget Survey
10 min read

Innovative Urban Planning for the Citizen-Centric Smart City

By Lily Maxwell on Jun 29, 2018 1:39:22 AM

Innovating urban planning to foster community-focused development is a critical element in the creation of smarter cities. More than half of the world’s population currently live in cities. The UN estimates that by 2050, this figure will have doubled. The “financialization” of housing, among other factors, has led to a situation where many of the world’s cities are now defined by a chronic shortage of housing for the least advantaged, and in many cases, for the working and middle classes as well. The local connection between the financial institutions funding housing development and the people buying them has long disappeared, replaced by a new international financial system where real estate is a major asset. Indeed, a recent UN report estimates that the total value of global real estate makes up 60 percent of all global assets, with a value of $217 trillion, three-quarters of which is housing.

So how do we make housing more accessible in cities the world over? The ‘smart city’ movement presents cities with the opportunity to build and plan ‘smarter’, developing citizen-centered, tech-enabled living, working and playing spaces that respond to people’s changing desires and needs - that are ‘future-proof’ and ‘user-centric’. Whether in Sao Paulo, Brasil, or Todmorden, UK, smart city innovation, and the ideas and funds it brings, should be capitalized upon to drive forward and finance smart development projects that help to relieve the global housing crisis that we are facing. In this week’s article, we will focus on some of the ways we can innovate planning in order to ‘redistribute’ housing stock (both existing and future) to create more equitable, just and sustainable urban communities.

Topics: Citizen Centricity Innovation Smart City Affordable Housing Citizen Participation Planning Smarter Urban Planning Collaborative Technologies Digitization Citizen Engagement
11 min read

How to ensure that your smart city strategy is inclusive

By Lily Maxwell on May 15, 2018 3:54:12 PM

Many proponents of the smart city claim that it is by nature inclusive. However, like all other aspects of urban design and development, smart city initiatives frequently fail to fully prioritize inclusivity, often perpetuating the very issues that they aim to solve. As Gil Peñalosa, world-renowned urban designer, noted in a recent panel discussion on ‘The Invisible Smart City’: “we currently design our cities as though everyone is 30 and active”, leading to biased, inaccessible urban design that excludes what he calls the ‘silent majority’. Going one step further than this, Yves Raibaud, acclaimed sociologist and urban geographer, argues that cities are designed ‘by and for men’ (par et pour les hommes) - notably ‘western’, privileged men. This evidently leaves much to be desired in terms of diversity, and in turn inclusivity. Children, older people, women, ethnic minorities, the disabled, the mentally and physically ill, and people with low household incomes (and those who meet at the intersecting points between these groups) are frequently excluded by and from urban design, unable to fully enjoy or participate in civic urban life or the processes that shape it.

Topics: Smart City Strategy Citizen Centricity Co-Creation Life Quality Human-Centric Approach Citizen Participation Digital Exclusion Digital Equity Digital Inclusion Inclusive Smart City Accessibility Digital Skills Citizen Engagement
13 min read

The inclusive smart city: 7 steps to tackling digital exclusion

By Lily Maxwell on Apr 23, 2018 11:24:00 PM

Although the quantity of people using technology in their everyday lives is constantly rising, a relatively high percentage of the world’s population remains digitally disengaged or even technologically illiterate. In the European Union alone, nearly a third of people don’t use the internet on a daily basis; only half of all Europeans aged 16 - 74 use social networks or e-government services, and in some European countries up to 25% of people don’t have access to a computer from home.

As smart cities render our world more and more digital, and Information and Communications Technology (ICTs) play an increasingly important role in our daily lives, the ‘digital exclusion’ of certain population groups - notably those from low-income backgrounds, the elderly, and the disabled - is morphing into total societal exclusion.

Topics: Broadband Connectivity Smart Citizens Citizen Participation Smart People Digital Exclusion Digital Equity Digital Inclusion Inclusive Smart City Accessibility Digital Skills Citizen Engagement
12 min read

The Importance of Smart Citizens to accelerate Smart City Development

By Lily Maxwell on Mar 11, 2018 11:23:18 PM

"Nothing in the world is more simple and more cheap than making cities that provide better for people" - Jan Gehl, founding partner of Gehl Architects, in an interview in 2013.

When we talk about smart cities, the technological terms dominate. We refer to how big data, the Internet of Things, sensors, and automation, among other things, will change and innovate our cities, making life better for urban citizens. As Ignasi Capdevila and Matías I. Zarlenga highlight, however, in their study 'Smart City or smart citizens? The Barcelona case', when we think of smart cities from the perspective of new technologies alone, ‘citizens are often considered as users, testers, or consumers rather than producers and sources of creativity and innovation’. 


Topics: Smart City Strategy Collective Intelligence Smart City Approach Citizen Centricity Smart City Definition Smart City Development Open Government Co-Creation Innovation Smart City Technology Human-Centric Approach Citizen Participation Citizen Engagement
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