Public participation central to resilient smart city planning

Technology can connect the urban environment. But, that’s not all it takes to build a resilient smart city. Citizen engagement has a critical role to play, writes Sam Musa in ‘Smart Cities – A Roadmap for Development.’

Referring to research, Musa points out that, each week, nearly a million people migrate to cities worldwide. With 52% of the global population currently inhabiting cities, they are responsible for about 70% of the world’s energy consumption. Governments will need to manage such pressures on resources, while also improving liveability, writes Musa as he explores the promise of smart technology for urban governance.  

Smart cities, the author argues, should make space for citizen involvement in planning and responsive policies from decision makers.  He describes the smart city as one in which citizens are served by electronic infrastructure that connects community and government, provides solutions to problems, manages the city’s assets, and improves quality of life. He calls for governments to build public participation into a roadmap to put technology to use effectively across sectors.  
Musa presents three major areas of focus for creating a smart city roadmap. He identifies the first dimension as establishing the need for technological transformation. Residents, as stakeholders, can be consulted to understand their requirements and their relationship with the government. The second dimension is the development of a policy that shapes the project by outlining goals, strategies, and responsibilities. Charters can help assign resources and capabilities to decision makers in charge of the technological interventions.

The third dimension is the active involvement of citizens in finding solutions and improving services. Open data, civic engagement through mobile applications, and location-based sensors for services can support community-driven governance. The author advocates for city-wide access to high-speed connectivity to drive citizen participation, support commerce and government services.   smart city planning

Dr. Sam Musa, Adjunct Assistant Professor in the University of Maryland University College, serves as a cyber security expert to the United States Federal Government.

Photo: Seth Doyle/Unsplash/cc

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