Last week we presented Part I of this two-part article: The Rising C’s of our Urban Future. Part I revealed the first four “C’s” as trending issues for destinations and cities of the future. Part II of this article discusses the last three:
5. Citizen Involvement
The Smart City agenda until recently has been very technology-driven. Little attention has been paid to the citizen – the actual user of the city. But this is changing and this is happening fast.
In the new Barcelona Smart City strategy the focus is now on “making life better for people”, and has four key components to make Barcelona a more open, democratic, creative and circular city. The pioneering Barcelona Digital City plan is the city’s bold roadmap to drive technological sovereignty for citizens. It promotes a more diverse digital economy and a new urban innovation model by focusing on the transformation and digital innovation of the public sector through the greater involvement of companies, administrations, academia, communities and citizens.
The InterAmerican Development Bank in their new guidebook “The Road to Smart Cities” – state that people play a very important role as beneficiaries of and participants in city transformations. Their inclusion and engagement is key in the transition from traditional management models to a Smart City management model.
Smart city development faces many barriers around the world including tight municipal budgets, sluggish public procurement guidelines, privacy and cybersecurity concerns, and a pressing need for more IT talent at municipal agencies. Taking the time to deploy new, futuristic technologies can also be a luxury that many cities charged with the day-to-day running of a metropolis can’t afford. To disrupt and to accelerate the development of our urban eco-systems will require collaboration on a scale never seen before. The silos need to be broken and private-public-people partnerships will need to be developed and mainstreamed to co-create and implement the technology that can make our cities smart.
In partnership with leading organisation such as the Smart City Council, we are increasingly working on solutions to share information between cities and how they can support each other to grow. In this way, we expect to see more aggregation of needs, joint development projects and multi-city purchasing of solutions.
All over the world, smart technologies are increasingly transforming cities — reducing congestion, cutting crime, modernizing the electric grid. Yet far too often, these benefits do not extend to those most in need — the poor, the disabled, the homeless and those without Internet access.
“Cities and towns have an immense role to play in ending poverty and building inclusive societies that promote participation by all,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the Habitat III conference in Quito, Colombia that focused on sustainable urban development. Together with the increased focus by cities, businesses and NGOs on the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, we expect to increasingly see technology and a spirit of compassion focused on making a difference to those in need.
For example, in Nairobi, Kenya, an estimated 2.5 million people live in slums, and over a third do not have access to clean water. For them water is a precious resource and often they would have to hunt around and wait in long lines to find water they could buy. More often than not the water supply points do not work, mainly due to lack of funds and capacity for operations and maintenance. Enter Vodafone, Ericsson and Grundfos who in a collaborative project are enabling Kenyans to use their mobile phones and the M-Pesa mobile money services to make payments for water. Now the people can pay for clean water by sending a text that unlocks a water pump. As a result of this guaranteed payment the local water companies are willing to connect a growing number of neighbourhoods to their systems.
Like this article? Feel free to contact the author Guy Bigwood, MCI Group Sustainability Director, at @guybigwood or firstname.lastname@example.org.