Why citizen engagement makes a city smarter
Technology is essential for smart cities. But, it’s easy to forget that technology is enabler rather than an end in itself. When it comes to creating a smart city, the human aspect, such as connected communities and engaged citizens, is just as vital.
Why technology is not enough
According to new analysis by Gartner, smart city initiatives are no longer just about optimized traffic patterns, parking management, efficient lighting and improvements to public works. Instead, citizen engagement, the enhancement of services, and experience is critical to making smart cities successful.
The bottom-up approach
So, what’s the best way to go about designing and building a smart city? New research points to a community-driven, bottom-up approach where citizens play an integral part of designing and developing smart cities – as opposed to a top-down policy. In this bottom-up approach, cities are using machine learning and chatbots to engage citizens or assets with their environment.
C-Share, a safe city app developed by CityShob, is a good example of this approach. This two-way app is all about creating better engagement. It does this by enabling citizens to report “SOS” alerts direct to emergency and municipality agencies via their smartphones. And it allows municipalities to communicate emergency information with citizens. C-Share features an SOS button that sends an alarm to emergency services – with one tap. There is also an event report that enables users to send detailed information such as pictures, videos, voice and text.
The purpose of C-Share is to empower citizens to protect themselves, their neighbors and public safety by sending a public report from any location that helps city assets to get instant information about city incidents so that they can respond more efficiently. CityShob customers who use the app, report a wide range of events ranging from roadblocks to crime, and they benefit from fast event response time and high quality care. The municipality reports to citizens about events happening in the city. For example, if there is road accident – they will ask them to find an alternative route, in cases of water or electricity infrastructure works – they will tell them to prepare accordingly, and if there is a festival in the city they will invite them to join.
C-Share is just one of many solutions designed to create greater engagement. However, it’s important to keep in mind that beyond the technological wizardry, one should never lose sight of the fact that smart cities are there for the people; not the other way around. Seeing challenges and developing technology-driven solutions to tackle them is one thing. Getting people to act on them is something altogether different.