Question in: Smart Cities in Urban Planning

Public Participation and Smart City


What is the role of public participation in the decision making processes of a smart city? Which technologies can help to empower citizens in transforming the city?

Smart City
Public Participation
public participation in the governance on science and innovation
Decision Making
Citizenship & Sustainability
Smart City Planning
Urban Design
Urban Planning
Citizen Participation
City Government
Aurelio David
7 months ago

5 answers


There are two somewhat different, yet related, questions here. Let's start with the first: (1) What is the role of public participation in the decision making processes of a smart city? In my view, a smart city doesn't change the essential role that community plays in city decision-making. For a healthy democracy, people must be engaged. Now, more than ever, our communities require responsible citizenry. Our existing and future challenges are many and complex. Whether it's by serving on various committees; participating in open debate; running for office; or a multitude of other channels for public participation, our cities need the energy and voices of as many people as possible.
The second question asks: (2) Which technologies can help to empower citizens in transforming the city? Clearly digitization has opened a vast number of new channels. There is no single magic solution, but change will come from a combination that must include old-school debate and discussion coupled with new platforms such as Facebook, data analytics, and online forums. From using 311 apps to report issues, to responding to online polls and neighborhood debates on social networks, to using open data to build arguments, citizens have more ways to be heard and to elicit action. We may find that digitization ultimately shifts the dynamic from the elected official to the empowered individual, but it's too early to tell.

Jonathan Reichental, Ph.D.
7 months ago
Thanks Jonathan I agree with your views. Brilliant views. - Hitesh 7 months ago
Thank you Jonathan. As you point out, it is important to consider these questions separate. I would like to add another point, though. Don't you think that new technologies enabling participation may improve the quality and need for participation? In other words, under such circumstances, will participation be pursued for its epistemological potential, irrespective of questions of democracy? - Aurelio 7 months ago

Public participation is one of the most key element in the evaluation of Smart City rankings and social media participation rate is another metric and also the means of their participation, so all in all Public Participation is truly uniquely critical to the process of Smart City in all its phases starting from Initiating phases to the development, design, implementation and therafter in its application/implementation and lastly evalution /feedback of the Smart City life Cycle. People can voice their inputs, feedback, comments and suggestions, Improvements all using the most effecitive means - social meida.

Sarma Garimella
7 months ago

Smart City projects are implemented to solve prevailing civic services problems or enhance it using digital technologies.
How project champion i.e. Govt who is sponsoring these projects under Smart City Program/project and need to know public opinion apart from it's own benchmarking and system study of existing civic services.
These public communication are done using various ways such as below:

  1. Public feedback by various authorities are taken by hosting portal and public hoardings to use the portal.
  2. 2.Public Survey by Local NGO working areas such as Garbage, Enviornment protection, senior citizen services, education and health care services and many more such.
  3. 3.Hiring professional consultants services which also employe means such as point 1 and 2.

Following Technologies can empower citizens of the Smart City.

  1. Enviornment Health Data monitoring and it's control ( Air, Water and noise) ( Sensors based monitor board and display)
  2. Garbage monitoring, collection and disposal ( Using RFID based garbage bins, tracking transport and measuing it).
  3. Energy Management ( Replacement of Ligh bulbs, implementation of renewable energy generation usng Wind, SolarPV and other such sources of generations) and Energy Management system to control street lights, installation of energy meters (Manageable)
  4. Touriest and public guidenence system ( Wi-Fi with Mobile app for city, Interactive Kiosks with Wifi hot spot similar to NYC and Gulf).
  5. 5.Public Transport systems (Trains, buses and taxies) with parking facilities (Wallet/Card based parking ticket payments) as well as Electric Car and Bike (Seperate lanes and rental model).
  6. 6.Public Safety - Cisco designed and installed FIR kiosk across Bangalore city in India so that citizen can file the complaints and get the FIR number and copy ( First hand incident Report).
  7. 7.Education - Education to each age, income group of citizens using low cost digital video content delivery network services.
  8. 8.Health Care - Tele medicine using Wi-Fi or Internet network and home TV for senior citizen as well as other public.
  9. 9.Conservation of Culture , heritage and natureal resources such as water fronts and resorves, musueams, forest, sea fronts and many more.

There can be more use of digital technologies that can be used based on each city as each city has it's own architecture and problems to resolve using technology.

Hitesh Thakkar
7 months ago

Smart City projects (and likewise Smart Grid/Internet of Things) promise great benefits interms of increased functionality/services, reduced demand on resources (e.g., energy), better security, etc. All of these are welcome and can be of significant value. However, like many nascent technologies, the proposed solutions are often technology-driven - which can look and feel like a solution looking for a problem. In the absence of public participation, the acquirors of Smart City solutions may be setting out on a path to fix the wrong problems. As Clayton Christensen says...first understand the Job, then build the solution. To understand the Job, you need to involve the eventual users/beneficiaries to determine what they really need.

Peter Conlon, ICD.D
7 months ago

A smart city definitively involves it's citizens just like creating any new innovation nowadays involves it's potential customers. I see 2 main goals here: 1) involving your citizens should help you understand which problems/items to tackle first. What are the priorities of your citizens that you need to solve? 2) by involving your citizens, you also engage them already for the follow-up steps cause a city nowadays should not implement things on their own

Frank Dethier
6 months ago

Have some input?