Smart City: what roles for citizens and users in the Smart City?

The development of smart cities is accelerating, but also transforming. In the connected municipalities, priority was given to data collection in order to improve the daily life of the population through digital systems involving light sensors, pollution sensors, etc. A new phase is now giving way to a smart city model that focuses on citizens. The aim is to make them stakeholders in the developments that will change the way they live, but also the local economy and the organisation of municipalities.

The human factor, a major challenge for the smart city

In smart cities, the creation of agglomerations, the organization of their territories and the management of their environment integrates, at each stage, the digital transition while taking into account the various cultural, organizational and technological impacts of this transition. The initial objective was to include an increasing amount of automation in the management processes of municipalities, especially in the areas of energy, water and logistics, by increasing the number of sensors and technological innovations.

In the smart city, transport is also a key issue for users, local authorities and companies. Today we are no longer in a purely connected approach, the smart city is now turning towards an approach that is more centred around people, their development, their comfort, their well-being and their needs.

smart city citoyen

Moreover, the vast majority of citizens think that a smart city should allow them to be involved in its development and operation. This is why the smart city tends to become more collaborative: it puts digital technologies at the service of the inhabitants while involving them in joint actions.

What role for the citizen in the smart city?

Tomorrow’s smart city must take into consideration the motivation of the inhabitants of the same territory to want to benefit from digital innovations with a new way of participating, as citizens, in the life of their local communities.

For example, public transport users can be involved in improving public transport by providing information on their travel habits. It is a voluntary process of becoming stakeholders who choose to facilitate the collection of data to improve the lives of others in their community.

Another role for citizens is to participate in proposing projects and intervening in decision-making. Thus, in smart cities, territories could have platforms for large-scale debates on subjects as diverse as:

    • the local economy,
    • the environment,
    • transport
    • energy.

Simple operations, such as entering comments, could be combined with more complex systems, such as group writing tools. One of the critical points of this citizen involvement consists in taking into account the disparity of access to digital technologies according to social category, age or geographical location. The issue of inclusion in the smart city is real, which is why smart cities must include all people and not aggravate the digital divide.

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