Tech is nice, however do not forget folks

This article was originally published by Jem McKenna-Percy on Cities today, the leading news platform for urban mobility and innovation reaching an international audience of city guides. For the latest updates, see Cities Today Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Youtubeor sign up for Cities Today News.

One way to enable evidence-based decisions by cities is to integrate the physical and digital urban infrastructure and identify usage patterns and emerging trends. However, as cities become increasingly digitized, more technology is integrated, and more data is collected, the way this process is managed becomes increasingly important.

Using urban data requires coordinated thinking. Over the past five years, a consortium of city authorities, businesses and academic partners has tested a range of smart technologies in cities across Europe, integrating a range of e-mobility solutions, retrofits for deep energy buildings, smart street lighting and sustainable energy management systems used by urban Data platforms are supported. This work, part of the The “Divide Cities” program was shaped by involving communities on their way to inform them of what was going on in each city and to share their challenges with city administrators and service designers. As a result, the solutions were bespoke and of greater value.

In general, however, the smart city market has been largely focused on the “solution” without sufficiently considering the demand and real needs of cities and towns.

In many cases, existing technological solutions are upgraded to meet a city’s needs, often resulting in a lack of public trust or commitment to the proposed solutions.

In turn, cities need to improve how they express their needs to the market, for example by defining use cases – the specific situations in which a product or service could potentially be used to solve a problem. Fortunately, many use cases are common in most cities, so documenting and sharing experiences can expedite and standardize this process.


The advantages of an intelligent, networked infrastructure are real and have proven themselves. When multiple data sources come together in one place, for example via the London data repository, this can become a powerful tool for city planners. In Greenwich, it was demonstrated that a combination of different electric mobility solutions – such as electric vehicles (EV), e-bikes, electric vehicle charging, smart parking and smart lampposts – can work together to create a true smart city model. with data aggregated from various devices and sensors to provide valuable insights to policy makers.

Cities can build on this model to bring together data from different areas such as traffic, air quality, public lighting, building energy and parking. Our The latest playbook on intelligent road infrastructure shows the joint effects of combining several intelligent technologies on the reduction of CO2 emissions, the provision of services and business models and is available to every city when introducing Internet of Things (IoT) solutions on a district or city-wide level.

The introduction of an intelligent infrastructure must be managed carefully and transparently. Involving the local community in decisions about data collection and the use of data insights is essential for the success of pilots and their potential for Frame. In this way, cities can gain a better understanding of local contexts and therefore identify in advance the specific areas and problems that intelligent technologies can help with.

In Sharing Cities, we’ve used a number of citizen-centered methods to enable better collaboration between communities and stakeholders, from co-design workshops to user journey mapping to understand how different groups of people can interact with different types of technology . We have also developed a digital community engagement platform, the Digital Social Market – an app designed to encourage behavior change and green decisions through peer-to-peer incentives and rewards.

This design approach – largely based on needs and results – has brought significant benefits to our demonstration districts, not just in exceeding our environmental goals, but most importantly in creating solutions that are adopted by the local community and designed to last.

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Published on March 5, 2021 – 16:00 UTC

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