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Building Smarter Cities

Smart Cities Programs

What are Smart Cities?

Smart cities programs are designed to improve the quality of life of its citizens. It is about creating social and economic environments that are efficient and better organized through the application of new technology and communication tools. A smart city program means local government is taking the development of their jurisdiction seriously and are trying to make a better living space for all.

Building blocks

The key building block at the center of a smart city initiative is the citizen. Their input and their needs must inform the direction and decisions of a smart city program. To this end, instilling public consultation and citizen engagement practices into the program is essential. Meet the citizen needs and you will have a smart city, regardless of how much tech is involved.

Example

In Seoul, South Korea the city government sees collaboration and sharing as important ways to make the city smarter and is supporting many projects under the 'Sharing City Seoul' initiative. The initiative has certified 50 sharing projects that provide people with an alternative to owning things they rarely use and given grants to a number of these projects. Certified projects range from local car–sharing company SoCar, and websites like Billiji that help people share things with their neighbors, to schemes that match students struggling to find affordable housing with older residents who have a spare room.
As well as supporting collaborative economy organizations, cities can encourage better use of city government assets, for instance, car fleets, office space, and tools. Seoul has opened up almost 800 public buildings for public meetings and events when they aren’t in use.

Sharing assets doesn’t necessarily come naturally to people in cities in the 21st century, particularly when Amazon is only a click away and since it was launched in 2013, Sharehub has organized a large public engagement and education campaign with conferences, seminars, reports and a book. City governments have an important role to play in changing cultures and promoting the idea of people accessing assets when they need them as an alternative to ownership. Sharehub, a platform launched by Creative Commons Korea, has been trying to promote public acceptance of the collaborative economy as part of the Sharing City Seoul initiative. Since it was launched in 2013, Sharehub has organized a large public engagement and education campaign with conferences, seminars, reports and a book.

First Step

Unfortunately, citizen engagement in aspirational local initiatives isn’t always what might be hoped for. Trying to build an engagement team and then, subsequently, create that public engagement is notoriously difficult, time consuming and budget busting. In fact, the first port of call for most smart city programs, from a tech point of view, is the means by which to manage these critical steps, team onboarding, and public consultation. It is really up to the organizing body, usually the local authority, to facilitate the interaction between citizens and administration and to ensure information is open and available in real-time.

Opportunity

A city that aspires to be a smart city must develop all of its key platforms such as transport, energy, education, tech, business, waste, health and so on, in tandem and with complete transparency. No mean feat. Examples of cities that have been very successful with smart cities are Barcelona, Cologne, and Amsterdam. Thankfully, it is a program that is taking root in hundreds of cities around the world, big and small and with the right structures in place to safeguard the citizen engagement smart cities look set to become a wonderful breeding ground for local innovation around the globe.

Essentially the following three ideas establish the criteria that differentiate a Smart City:

  • Efficient management of services and resources

  • New tools and places for people, groups and institutions to interact with each other

  • Use and integration of new technologies (ICT)

Voxcitio

Voxcitio sits at the intersection between citizen engagement and database management. It is a consultation and engagement tool for local government and public projects like smart cities. It is designed to streamline the processes around engaging with people and building relationships. Database import and mapping form the structure on which software tools for surveys, issue tracking, mass communication and team management are hung.

If you would like to learn more about how Voxcitio is working with Smart City Campaigns, arrange a demo below.

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