Citizen engagement is vital for any serious smart city plan, warns Gartner

‘As data analytics and insights become increasingly valuable because of the extensive analytics and learning, data algorithms will become the essential element to create user-focused services’

Posted 8 March 2018 at 9:29am by

Smart city initiatives are no longer about optimised traffic patterns, parking management, efficient lighting and improvements to public works, says Gartner.

Instead, it has to be about citizen engagement.

“The way forward  [for smart cities] is a community-driven, bottom-up approach, where citizens are an integral part of designing and developing smart cities, and not a top-down policy with city leaders focusing on technology platforms alone,” says one of the the organisation’s research vice presidents, Bettina Tratz-Ryan.

“Business strategies must clearly focus on the development of a seamless citizen service experience through digital access to information and government services.”

For smart citizens, she adds, the focus is not just about the use of technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and smart machines, but the enhancement of services and experience – meaning that citizen-government dialogue has to become a key component to ensure the right issues are tackled.

To keep pace with the changing needs of citizens, and the development of new business, cities are now striving to become not just smart but also innovative, thinks the researcher.

Machine Learning and chatbots are being used to engage citizens or assets with their environment, while cities are building business and technology policies to assess the opportunities offered by potentially disruptive technologies like AI for elderly care, autonomous driving or delivery bots. There are also emerging use cases for blockchain for transactions and in record keeping.

“As data analytics and insights become increasingly valuable because of the extensive analytics and learning, data algorithms will become the essential element to create user-focused services,” she adds.

As a result, the analyst group says local authority IT leaders need to start doing the following:

Identify and prioritise CIOs need to understand the problems that directly impact citizens and apply technology to solve these problems, such as working to align data and information gathered through AI and machine learning to match the specific requirements of citizens

Be mindful Town Hall IT chiefs need to be mindful of the digital divide, paying equal attention to the issues of citizens with minimal IT skills. Incorporating technologies such as Natural Language-powered virtual personal assistants is a step in this direction, it believes

Develop Transparency CIOs need to create open data strategies guaranteeing access to all interested parties in a city as open data portals allow industries and universities — as well as interested citizens — unencumbered access.

The main message, though, is that the key to local government smart city success is “building objectives by developing KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that detect stakeholder priorities and measure success and impact”, it states – predicting that inside two years, two thirds of all smart city execution strategies will incorporate them in order to visualise the impact of mobility-related urban services.

Gartner clients can get more information from the full report on all this, New Business and Technology Priorities in Smart City Require CIOs to Change.