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People Make Cities Smart

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.

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People Make Cities Smart

  1. 1. People Make Cities Smart Andrew Nash Conference: Why are cities smart? Miskolc, Hungary November 27, 2014
  2. 2. Photo by flowcomm - Creative Commons Attribution License Created with Haiku Deck
  3. 3. What makes a city smart?  Using technology to make cities more efficient e.g., energy saving?  Centralized control centres to monitor and manage infrastructure and services?  Using technology to increase public participation in activities of civic living?
  4. 4. Public participation … because it helps: • Generate better ideas Detailed local knowledge & fresh perspective • Provide political support Especially important for tough decisions • Create committed residents People willing to act
  5. 5. Information technology has vastly increased the ability of people to participate.
  6. 6. What is public participation: A. Providing input B. Analyzing data C. Collaborating in activities D. Supporting decision-making E. Taking action Support Input Analysis Collaboration Output
  7. 7. A. Collecting Input: efficiency + visibility • Mainstream social media (Twitter, Facebook) • Reporting applications
  8. 8. Chicago Transit Authority – Twitter Feed
  9. 9. Zurich Public Transport Authority – Facebook Page
  10. 10. Reporting Applications
  11. 11. SeeClickFix page for San Francisco
  12. 12. Traffic Check User friendly features needed for mobile phone reporting: • automatic geo location, • logical information flow, • check boxes for data entry.
  13. 13. Reporting Apps + GPS + Sensors
  14. 14. Meine Radspur, Vienna
  15. 15. Street Bump, Boston
  16. 16. B. Data Analysis: no longer a monopoly • City data – open data or scraped. • Citizen data – cheap sensors.
  17. 17. Citizen developed applications and visualizations from open data. Stumble Safely, Washington D.C.
  18. 18. WayCount vehicle counter and software
  19. 19. Smart Citizen sensor and software
  20. 20. C. Collaboration: Participate efficiently
  21. 21. San Francisco Mind Mixer website
  22. 22. Shareabouts – geo collaboration
  23. 23. … Facebook-based collaboration
  24. 24. Loomio – public infrastructure for collaborative decision making - please support their crowd funding effort!
  25. 25. D. Support: improved collaboration • Education – cities are complex • Better processes – meeting management • Increased engagement – more is better
  26. 26. BusMeister … public transport learning
  27. 27. Participatory Chinatown Boston Using virtual reality to understand urban planning.
  28. 28.
  29. 29. Improve Public Transport wiki … crowd-sourced information about public transport.
  30. 30. Grr-Grr-Bike … smartphone game for education + engagement.
  31. 31. Plan in A Box – tools for planning
  32. 32. E. Action: it starts getting interesting … • Information – e.g. transit information • Clean-up days • P2P ridesharing – sharing culture • Casserole – shared meals and socialization • Crowd-sourced civic works – Kickstarter
  33. 33. Ciclo Rotas Centro project Rio de Janerio, Brazil
  34. 34. So it’s not: Why are cities smart? But rather …
  35. 35. How are cities smart? When they … 1. Actively involve the public in managing the city. 2. Provide open data to increase understanding and solving problems (e.g., using new apps). 3. Use apps to harness public energy efficiently. 4. Recognize if they don’t do it – someone else will.
  36. 36. Andrew Nash helps clients develop social media, serious games and crowd sourcing applications designed to improve cities and transport systems. His current projects include Grr-Grr-Bike (, a smart phone game designed to encourage people to get involved in urban bicycle planning and advocacy, and, a project that uses a serious game and a wiki-based best practices website to educate people about public transport operations and a Facebook-based crowdsourcing platform. You can reach him at:
  37. 37. References • Nash, Andrew; A Proposed Structure for Understanding Interactive City Tools; May 2013, • “Interactive City Tool” from Play the City • Code for America (CfA) • OpenPlans • Open Knowledge Foundation • GovLab Open Governance WIKI Reporting Applications • Seeclickfix • Fix My Transport • Citizens Connect • Traffic Check • Verbeterdebuurt, Netherlands
  38. 38. References - 2 GPS Data Reporting Applications • CycleTracks, San Francisco – GPS data collection system for bicycling: • Meine Radspur, Vienna • StreetBump, Boston • Waze roadway GPS data collection • Moovit public transport GPS reporting app: Citizen Collected Data • WayCount traffic counter: • Air Quality Egg: • Cosm sensor data sharing platform • Seeplan – project by Even Westvang from Bengler –
  39. 39. References - 3 Collaboration Applications • MindMixer • Shareabouts • • Loomio – crowd sourced decision making • Bogotá – My ideal city Citizen Collected Data • WayCount traffic counter: • Air Quality Egg: • Cosm sensor data sharing platform
  40. 40. References - 4 Support and Education • Community Planit • BusMeister Game • Participatory Chinatown • • Grr-Grr-Bike engagement game • Designing Chicago • Plan in a Box • Simpl Challenge Taking Action • Everyday Growing Cultures • 596 Acres – New York • Ciclos Rotas Centro – Rio de Janeiro 0 • Networks of Dispossession – Turkey