Why are cities smart? Answering means defining what we mean by a smart city. Do smart cities: Use technology to make the city operate more efficiently? Have centralized control centers to monitor and manage infrastructure and services? Or do they use technology to increase public participation? A really smart city does all three. Since most discussion centers on the first two, this presentation focuses on public participation.
The first thing to realize about public participation is that information technologies, especially social media and applications, have vastly increased the ability of people to participate in all types of activities - including almost everything a city does. Public participation includes: providing input, analyzing data, collaborative planning, educating themselves and others, and taking action.
Public participation is especially good because residents have detailed local knowledge and fresh perspective. They can provide political support and the participation process helps create people willing to take action. Many information technology applications have been developed to support public participation. The presentation describes the main categories of public participation applications and illustrates these categories with examples.
So, another way to look at the question might be: How are cities smart? The answer is: when they actively involve the public in managing the city, provide open data to increase understanding, use applications to harness public energy efficiently, and recognize that if they don’t do it, someone else will.