Can technology foster democracy?
My list

Author | Amaia Porteiro

Digital transformation is radically changing our environment and our cities. Now that we have the appropriate tools, perhaps it is also time to reconsider the structural challenges of our city administrations and governments, in order to make them become more efficient, transparent and inclusive.

45% of the world’s population lives in cities and the percentage will continue to increase in the coming decades. Our cities are smarter thanks to new digital tools, but are the administrations too?

Now that we have the tools, there are no excuses for not making that change. It is just a case of finding a starting point. What exactly is needed to achieve a more agile and smarter government?

During the Smart City Expo World Congress 2019 held in Barcelona, a panel focusing on the most innovative cities in this area revealed that all of their conclusions were similar. According to the panel members, smart cities of the future need to be:

  • More agile. Able to adapt quickly. This includes working on lean budgeting for the low-scale and rapid implementation and testing of ideas under a fail fast approach.
  • More transparent. Everyone must be given access to the data collected, so that all stakeholders can take part in the subsequent decision-making processes based on such data. Transparency will be crucial in order to regain the much-needed trust of citizens in their institutions and encourage their participation.
  • More participatory. People must be at the centre of all the improvement strategies. Citizens must take an active role in the changes; they need to be heard and their requirements must be addressed.
  • More inclusive. All sectors of society, including minority groups, must be represented when designing solutions to promote equity.

The future of citizen-focused governments: paperless and participatory

dubai-digital-transformation

Aisha Bin Bishr, Director of Smart Dubai, presented the experience of the capital of the Emirates, which is close to achieving its objective of having a fully digital and paperless government by 2021. To achieve this, Bin Bishr explained that the processes of all the citizen journey services must be simplified and digitalised, more than 600 in the case of Dubai.

It is also essential to integrate all sectors in decision-making processes: from the institutional and academic sectors, to the collaboration with the private sector and the representation of all groups of citizens (including the most disadvantaged sectors), as well as all the nationalities that live in a city. The aim is to generate an open dialogue between the community and the centre of urban power.

Decision making must be as inclusive as possible. “Citizens must be aware of their importance and take over the decision-making process” -Rohey Malick Lowe, major of Banjul (Gambia), emphasized. In the case of her city, as with many others in Africa, the inclusion of the large rural population that has moved to the capital in development processes has been crucial, giving women a voice.

If their contribution is to be genuine, citizens must not just be seen as mere “data generators”, instead, they must have suitable platforms and digital applications that enable their participation.

In terms of the private sector, the experience of the city of Los Angeles, with its CleanTech Incubator and its IoT Consortium, suggests that the collaboration between companies and institutions should not translate into large projects, but small agreements that enable an agile and experimental approach. Companies should also get involved from the strategic planning stage and not just during the execution phase.

Aisha Bin Bishr recommends not forgetting about start-ups. The Director of Smart Dubai commented that “most innovative solutions are provided by these”. Accordingly, the government of Dubai has established that at least 10% of the agreements between the municipal government and companies must be conducted with start-ups that propose improvements.

A change of scene: collaboration between cities

Traditionally, urban development and planning was defined by the framework designed by each country’s central government. Smart cities are giving way to a revolutionary change of model: the creation of inter-citizen and supra-national collaborative structures. This means the experience and knowledge of each city can be shared with other cities on their network, regardless of whether or not they belong to the same country.

Another advantage for cities with small budgets is that each member of this collaborative network can test a specific aspect of urban planning, working by niches in order to subsequently share the data, conclusions and solutions implemented among all of them. This system can create tension with more centralist state governments, such as Banjul, but it offers unquestionable advantages for the urban development of small and medium-sized cities.

In short, shared knowledge together with digital technology will be crucial for a more agile, efficient and economic development of smart cities in the coming years.

Images | ZQ Lee, Goh Rhy Yan

Related content
Barcelona’s strategy to drive the 2030 Agenda in the city
Barcelona’s strategy to drive the 2030 Agenda in the city
Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole: cities become smarter by forming smart regions
Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole: cities become smarter by forming smart regions
Pablo Soto, regional representative of Transparency and Participation in Madrid: “Technology should be used to enhance institutions”
Pablo Soto, regional representative of Transparency and Participation in Madrid: “Technology should be used to enhance institutions”
Metropolitan governance: extending municipal governments as a response to new urban challenges
Metropolitan governance: extending municipal governments as a response to new urban challenges
How to go from being a town to a Smart Town
How to go from being a town to a Smart Town
The G20 creates the Global Smart Cities Alliance to establish universal norms and guidelines for the implementation of technology
The G20 creates the Global Smart Cities Alliance to establish universal norms and guidelines for the implementation of technology
Paul Duan, co-founder and President of Bayes Impact: “We should trust in the power of the multitude”
Paul Duan, co-founder and President of Bayes Impact: “We should trust in the power of the multitude”
Open government and citizen participation: a journey through history - Infographic
Open government and citizen participation: a journey through history - Infographic
Pontus Westerberg, UN-Habitat:
Pontus Westerberg, UN-Habitat: "People need to be allowed to offer their own solutions to the problems in the places in which they live"
How and why do cities die?
How and why do cities die?
Digital natives, technological illiterates?
Digital natives, technological illiterates?
New COVID-19 outbreaks: this is what the hammer and the dance will be like
New COVID-19 outbreaks: this is what the hammer and the dance will be like
Citizens policing our streets: is it lawful to report the inappropriate use of cities?
Citizens policing our streets: is it lawful to report the inappropriate use of cities?
Smart cities that failed along the way
Smart cities that failed along the way
Can technology foster democracy?
Can technology foster democracy?
Welcome to the Smart City Live!
Welcome to the Smart City Live!
What makes a city attractive to talent?
What makes a city attractive to talent?
Imec: Open digital twin framework
Imec: Open digital twin framework
x-tention: Towards post covid-19 smart tourism
x-tention: Towards post covid-19 smart tourism
Arca: Wave control for better health
Arca: Wave control for better health
Smart Buildings: Enabling reliability and resilience for a better future
Smart Buildings: Enabling reliability and resilience for a better future
DMAP: Unlocking the power of transportation analytics
DMAP: Unlocking the power of transportation analytics
These were the urban utopias that preceded us - Infographic
These were the urban utopias that preceded us - Infographic
Medellín: data and infrastructures in contrast to its troubled past
Medellín: data and infrastructures in contrast to its troubled past
2030 Agenda and Urban Agenda for Catalonia: from Strategy into Practice
2030 Agenda and Urban Agenda for Catalonia: from Strategy into Practice
How smart cities are contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals
How smart cities are contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals
From Crisis to Opportunity: Transforming European Cities in the COVID Era
From Crisis to Opportunity: Transforming European Cities in the COVID Era
Cities as Testbeds for Innovation
Cities as Testbeds for Innovation
Smart Cities Germany – an emerging market for urban technologies providers
Smart Cities Germany – an emerging market for urban technologies providers
CIOs as linking pins: bridging IT and European digital policy for smart cities
CIOs as linking pins: bridging IT and European digital policy for smart cities
Barcelona Smart Region: innovative projects to improve connectivity and sustainability
Barcelona Smart Region: innovative projects to improve connectivity and sustainability
Barcelona Smart Region: providing smart services for citizens
Barcelona Smart Region: providing smart services for citizens
Bournemouth Christchurch & Poole: The New Smart Place
Bournemouth Christchurch & Poole: The New Smart Place
City-states never disappeared: Hamburg, Hong Kong, Singapore
City-states never disappeared: Hamburg, Hong Kong, Singapore
G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance – Launching the Policy Roadmap
G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance – Launching the Policy Roadmap
Reinventing Cities with Technology after COVID-19 – Unpacking ideas from Japan
Reinventing Cities with Technology after COVID-19 – Unpacking ideas from Japan
AdvanGrid: Staying ahead in the energy transition
AdvanGrid: Staying ahead in the energy transition
Neareo: Powering QR codes
Neareo: Powering QR codes
People-focused Smart Cities: Urban Digital Transformation Working for the Benefit of All
People-focused Smart Cities: Urban Digital Transformation Working for the Benefit of All
Strengthening Metropolitan Governance
Strengthening Metropolitan Governance
Economic and social recovery leaving no one behind
Economic and social recovery leaving no one behind
Adopting Technologies Responsibly: a Global Policy Roadmap for Ethical Smart Cities
Adopting Technologies Responsibly: a Global Policy Roadmap for Ethical Smart Cities
Smart Villages & Territories
Smart Villages & Territories
The Global Voice of Cities
The Global Voice of Cities
Urban Water Management: Making every drop count
Urban Water Management: Making every drop count
Usitoo4cities: Reinventing consumption
Usitoo4cities: Reinventing consumption
Smart Pedestrian Crosswalk: Walking the city more safely
Smart Pedestrian Crosswalk: Walking the city more safely
Smartnodes: Realizing smart cities through smart lighting
Smartnodes: Realizing smart cities through smart lighting
SIARQ: Featuring Environmental Data As A Service
SIARQ: Featuring Environmental Data As A Service
Recommended profiles for you
MA
Mohammad Ahmed
Concepts Unlimited
Managing Director
mr
mario regis
Abundance Program
Co-Founder, directory board
AS
Annis Sopenlehto-Jokinen
City of Turku
Six City Strategy Coordinator
Gede Setiawan
Gede Setiawan
Governance Institute of Home Affair
Passionate student
DD
Daniel Daniel Yeri Kristiyanto
Institut Teknologi Telkom Purwokerto
Lecturer
AP
Alvaro Palomino
Superpoderosos
Director
TV
Taissa Villa
UPF
I am currently a Global Studies undergraduate.
ANE IBAÑEZ ZUGAZAGA
ANE IBAÑEZ ZUGAZAGA
BILBAOTIK (BILBAO COUNCIL)
MANAGING DIRECTOR
Ernesto Gil Elorduy
Ernesto Gil Elorduy
Global Parliamentaríans on Habitat
President Global Parliamentarians on Habitat
Juan Díaz
Juan Díaz
Autonomous University of Ciudad Juarez
Undergraduate
IL
Isabel Laut
Minsait
Manager
Tomoaki NISHITANI
Tomoaki NISHITANI
NTT docomo Inc.
Person in Charge
MS
Mônica Silva
cbtu
analyst
Ana PASTOR
Ana PASTOR
URV
PHD student
Zsófia Bartha
Zsófia Bartha
National Data Asset Agency
Chief of Staff
IR
Isabelle RAWART
AdN Agence du Numérique - Wallonie (Digital Wallonia)
Smart Territory Advisor
Fátima Matito
Fátima Matito
UCLG
Communication officer UCLG
Jordi Pietx
Jordi Pietx
jordipietx.NET
Consultant on socioenvironmental innovation networking
NV
NIKOLAOS VOGIATZIS
Municipality of Sofades
ICT ADMINISTRATION
Mônica Luize SARABIA
Mônica Luize SARABIA
UFPE_NUGEPP
Supervisão

Only accessible for registered users
This content is available only for registered users
TO: $$toName$$
SUBJECT: Message from $$fromName$$