Social inclusion in smart cities: participatory innovation in Finland

The notion of social inclusion in smart cities has given rise to the need for smart environments to support participatory innovation, where the ‘city as a platform’ enables citizens to co-create solutions.

Published in Sustainability, Ari-Veikko Anttiroiko’s article ‘City-as-a-Platform: The Rise of Participatory Innovation Platforms in Finnish Cities’ discusses citizen participation in initiatives that facilitate urban economic development in the context of a democratic welfare society. The study examines the forms of citizen involvement at work in participatory innovation platforms, and offers an empirical analysis of the cases of three leading Finnish post-industrial cities: Helsinki, Tampere, and Oulu.The case studies show a range of citizen roles, from user involvement in product development, the creation of rights-based initiatives to the discussion of citizen concerns in open platforms.

Although participation varies, ‘user involvement’ tends to be instrumental, while ‘resident involvement’ is linked to representative modes of participation. Even as platforms are embedded in city governments, they can differ significantly in their organizational scopes and forms. Anttiroiko observes that welfarism, democratic culture and redistributive policy offer contextual support for platformization by enhancing social inclusion and addressing the tensions between pro-growth and anti-growth factions.

Ari-Veikko Anttiroiko, Senior Lecturer and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Local Government Studies, University of Tampere, Finland, is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Information Society Institute. Previously, he has lead the Local Governance in the Information Society project, funded by the Academy of Finland, in addition to numerous collaborations with regional and international institutions in Europe and local government specialists around the world.  

Photo: Dodo/Flickr/cc

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