The world is full of clever data scientists, infrastructure specialists and planners who can design smart cities. And if we designed cities for robots and analysts the job is simple.
Ok, not simple, but possible.
But cities are not places for robots. Cities are places for people. Cities are where we live, connect, form relationships, build democracies and create places that are healthy and supportive. They’re places where we build our futures and our jobs.
This is where community engagement is critical.
We’ve engaged the community on smart cities and the results have been inspiring.
Some of the lessons we’ve learned are
- A strong appetite for innovation
- An understanding that city infrastructure can be used to collect data
- An interest in using technology to advance a local communities (sometimes that’s defined in economic terms, and in others it’s defined in community benefit, social benefit or environmental benefit) An interest in investing in smart cities where people could see a benefit to communities or to improve community outcomes such as safety or delivery of health
- Concerns about privacy, data use and security
- Community members, as well as knowledgeable stakeholders, have the willingness and capacity to be involved in developing new solutions
- Each community has different priorities and different motivators
- Even the most digitally savvy stakeholders, who love to engage online, still want to engage face-to-face because they see it as the opportunity to “collide”, collaborate or form working partnerships
- Each community is at a different stage of interest and appetite
- Cities have an enormous opportunity to invest in smart cities to deliver better outcomes for citizens
- Smart cities investment needs to be considered amongst a number of competing priorities and timeframes
If you’re interested in smart cities, I would urge you to follow Smart Cities Council Australia New Zealand and Adam Beck. And if you believe in the importance of engaging communities in smart cities, then please follow the Smart Cities Council ANZ Centre for Civic Innovation which I am chairing.
Amanda Newbery is managing director of Articulous and Chairs the National Centre for Civic Innovation, Smart Cities Council ANZ.