The Next Frontier: Social Smart City

General

per admin / 9 gener, 2015 / Sense comentaris

“We should be able to create spaces for debating and producing applicable and realistic solutions for our cities. This is the great challenge”

Depending on their level of “Smart” maturity, cities can be divided in:

  • Inexistent: these are cities that are yet to start any kind of action towards their transformation.
  • Vertical: those that, seeing a chance of quickly getting tangible results, have applied the concept “Smart” in a vertical way, to the management of water, etcetera.
  • Global: those cities that have undertaken a holistic view of “Smart”; they have created a strategy, and they are applying it.

The fact that cities are in a different level of maturity is neither bad not good. There are many reason – budgetary, of opportunity, or of priority – that can keep a city from starting its transformation into a “smarter” one. It is, therefore, just circumstantial.

Today I will talk about “The Next Step, the Next Frontier”, the one step every city should take: the step towards a “Social Smart City”. In previous articles I talked about the need for the citizen to become the center of the Smart City. Today I will talk about how to do it or, at least, I will try to give some hints.

If we really want to make a city of the people, for the people, and with people, we need to be able to incorporate them to its transformation. Now this is a gigantic challenge! How can we do it? Listening to them and making them an active part of the transformation. This means that each one of us has to do our job, no matter if citizen or politician. Are you looking for the word “empowerment”? Assembly? Yes and no.

In present-day society people want to be protagonists. They want more responsibility in the management of their cities – the place they live, work and enjoy/suffer in. More prominence also means more responsibility, and please forgive me for repeating it. The citizens already have mechanisms to evaluate the actions of the government or companies, but if we want a “Social Smart City” we need them to be able to participate in the planning of the action as well.

How can we do so in an efficient way? It is a certain that this new wave is here to stay, that social networks are a good barometer of the general public opinion. Social networks give as the level of interaction and continued contact with the citizens that we always dreamed of. Let’s start from here. Let’s listen to what the people of our city has to say about the behavior of our politic leaders. How do they picture this interconnected city?

Is it possible that we miss something if we do it this way? It is, but doing it the traditional way – for example with surveys – is not enough anymore. We should not only aspire to know what people think. In order to find solutions to the diverse situations of a city, we have to create collaborative spaces where everyone can speak out from a personal point of view. This is the challenge.

Were you expecting to find a solution within this little article? Some people tell me that when I write these articles I always fall short, that they are expecting a final conclusion, the solution. This is not the goal of my little contributions. They just intend to generate a debate. There is still a lot of work left to do in this field. I believe it is time to get serious. Let’s do it!

Jaume Batlle and Jara Forcadell for El Singular.cat

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