The governance and management models promoted by collective intelligence are pillars of the concept of smart cities, usually associated and reduced to sensors (IoT), data and other automatic processes that make the lives of citizens easier.
However, a city wouldn’t be a city without its residents, and they are increasingly demanding that a city aligned with ICTs must also be aligned with citizen participation.
A recent study in The Economist Intelligence Unit states that 51% of citizens would like to have access to digital platforms as a transparent and democratic way of communicating, where they can become involved and pass on their requests to their governments.
A concern that also affects the private sector, which plays an undisputable role in the progress of cities. As such, 73% of business leaders appear to be predisposed to the development or sponsorship of initiatives that advance along those lines.
The study, which compiles the opinions of 2,000 citizens and more than 600 managers in the private sector living in cities considered to be “smart cities”, underscores a state of collaborative maturity in the different stakeholders that make up the city, and who are demanding new resources for a digital convergence, such as greater access to free Internet in public spaces or the existence of participation channels that take things a step further than the traditional ones.
Up until now, social media have allowed citizens to channel their opinions or communicate specific issues to the Administration. This shows that citizens want to participate in the city’s big issues, taking things further than reporting a pothole in a street or a malfunction in the city’s public lighting.
Taking things one step further implies tens of thousands of people in a living participation ecosystem such as the one developed in ideas crowdsourcing communities that bring together the concepts of smart cities and smart citizens.
It also implies opening this model to collaboration between different stakeholders-companies with different administrations or public agencies, citizens…-through collective intelligence processes.
In our case, we can cite our experience with the city of Santander, smart city of reference according to international media, and the project Santander City Brain, a community open to participation and innovation from all the agents that make up the city.
The project, promoted by the local government, has managed to generate an element of collective intelligence, implicating its main actors in the construction and decision-making of the city, whether it is through spontaneous ideas or in response to challenges proposed by the government’s own team.
Gema Igual, Mayor of the city and heir of the project initiated by her predecessor Iñigo de la Serna, current Minister of Development in the Spanish government, defines the project “as an essential space for the government’s team and citizens, where neighbors are being listened to, where we are making use of innovation and promoting the idea of an open government”. Santander is a Smart city because of all the people and institutions who participate in the city’s construction.
It is no coincidence that Santander and its leaders are being considered references in innovation according to international media and different national publications, inspiring projects shared with other cities such as the recent book by Marieta del Rivero, “Smart cities, a vision for citizens”.