Smart city + smart citizens = civic intelligence ?? from Smart City Exhibition, Bologna
+ Smart Citizens
Smart City Exhibition, Bologna, Italy
October 17, 2013
Buongiorno e saluti!
Vorrei ringraziare tutti voi per essere venuti.
Vorrei anche dirvi quanto apprezzo il lavoro
che state facendo tutti.
Good Morning! I’m happy to be able to help
— if possible — with your great work!
I’m going to concentrate on our motivation
and some basic concepts and “home truths”
My Basic Argument
Problems seem to be growing faster than solutions.
Complex situations require complex thinking, not “click to
like.” Technology will play a role but it can’t do all of our
thinking for us.
Current approaches to governance are insufﬁcient.
Citizen revolt is widespread (and not necessarily effective)
Millions of projects / experiments exist worldwide.
Diffusion and renegotiating of “governance” is necessary
The main question is this: Will we be smart enough, soon enough?
Civic Intelligence is How I
Begin to Address the Question
• Civic intelligence is the ability of people to solve its
problems equitably and effectively through working
• It encompasses both research and action
• If it didn’t exist, it would be necessary to invent it.
• It exists to some degree in all individual and groups
but it could always be stronger!
Greetings from Seattle!
• “Most literate city” in the US
• Town Hall, NEPO, NW Film Forum, etc etc
• Department of Neighborhoods created the
People’s Academy for Community Engagement;
i.e. How to be an activist
• City government leader in carbon neutrality
• Maybe we need to join your networks?!
Seattle is a “smart
city” and has
Does that mean it has civic intelligence?
All cities have some...
But all cities could have more...
I applaud adding
“Human” to “Smart Cities”
“Smart Cities” by itself captures an innovative and
important concept in relation to the infrastructure of
Adding “human” however avoids the misleading view
that technology “solves” problems by itself without
the involvement of people.
Not focusing on humans can also lead to less usable
and effective systems. It would miss the most
interesting and important part: Civic Infrastructure.
Two main reasons for
One is positive and one is negative
With strong, engaged citizenry we may be
able to address our problems.
Without strong, engaged citizenry we won’t
be able to address our problems.
Societies / cultures need citizens that
help maintain the society / culture
believe in the legitimacy
contribute ideas and other resources
feel like they belong
Societies / cultures (not just gov.) need
to provide opportunities for citizens
to earn a living
to feel purposeful
to be safe
to have rights
to participate in the direction of society, culture
Elements of Civic Intelligence
Perception of problems
Knowledge and skills to solve them
Interest in doing so
Mechanisms & processes & social capital
Other resources — ICT, volunteers, money, etc
And civic ignorance, the collection of forces that discourage
civic intelligence, is always present but not always considered.
Relational / social
Skills or "applied
Land, space, &
Tools & equipment
Enthusiasm & selfefﬁcacy
Issue & cultural ﬁt
Updated: August 27, 2013
We Can Use Proxy Measures
(even though civic intelligence is best
evaluated with actual cases)
[high] social and political engagement
[low] levels of inequality
[high] social capital
[high] health measures
[high] good neighbor (e.g. willingness to help — and not
merely move problems out)
[low] corruption (political and otherwise)
Some Home Truths of Civic Engagement
The informed contribution of citizens to governance is
not optional; it’s absolutely indispensable.
Social inequality is still the root of most of our problems.
We need more creativity, dedication, humor, reason,
compassion, etc. Fortunately, people often have these attributes!
Remember that governance is not solely a technological matter.
And that the market or side effects won’t solve our problems for
And citizen engagement is not “one size ﬁts all.”
Nor is it a “silver bullet” that is guaranteed to work
• Acknowledge actual problems and think through
how your approach could help. We must keep our
eyes on the prize
• Developing meaningful opportunities for
• Sharing information and collaborating
• Making activism cool again
• Educating everybody
• Doing what needs to be done quickly enough,
but not without deliberation and common sense
We’re all “laboratories” now!
Use “civic intelligence” to orient your work — projects
should directly or indirectly build it
Strongly and loosely linked collaborations
Agree on shared goals, or shared data objectives
Continue to collaborate, even if resources are few
Civic intelligence as part of “civic infrastructure?”
Citizen “think tanks?”
Work directly with mediators — civil society
organizations, media, etc.
We will continue to
collaborate — directly or
Thank you and mille grazie!