Smart cities need citizen engagement
Smart city programmes can learn social media skills from leading sports brands if they are to successfully engage citizens, says Tayfun Topkoc.
Attend any football match in the Middle East, from the UAE to Saudi Arabia to Egypt, and you’ll find fans cheering their hometown teams, playing drums and trumpets, and waving flags. If trends like hyper-connectivity, supercomputing, and smart technology continue, then in the near future these fans could also be ordering concessions from their seats via a mobile app, receive a discount offer from the team store on their mobile phone when they walk by on the concourse, and share real time playbacks through social media networks with friends and family around the world.
Globally sports teams like Manchester City, Bayern Munich and the German national team are using technology to change the game. Big data analytics from sensors and wearables are revolutionising how teams analyse player performance and fan engagement, helping them to better manage team selection, engage with fans, and digitise stadiums – making the teams more profitable, effective, and popular.
Experts in the social media field say the massive social media growth in sports has generated two major themes: firstly, the ‘globalisation of fandoms’ and secondly, that athletes can now interact with their fans one-on-one.
Gone are the days of sitting in the bleachers or upper deck, and buying a hot dog and program. Now fans expect a complete immersive experience — personalised merchandise, sharing real time statistics, and TV and mobile broadcast packages.
From football to cricket to basketball, the popular teams are attracting massive social media followings. The Arabian Gulf’s top football teams have virtual fandoms in the tens of thousands, which is larger than many cities, while European clubs boast social media followings of potentially hundreds of millions of people – which would be among the world’s largest countries.
Social media has made a profound impact on the sporting industry, leading to new levels of fan engagement. The top teams in the world have become masters at finding and cultivating an audience on social media. Successful sports teams often operate like cities, whose ‘citizens’ are passionate fans. Sports fans have always been fiercely loyal to their teams, and social media is increasingly serving as a ‘virtual majlis’, where fans can cheer and debate before, during, and after the game. Social media can influence social behaviour and buying decisions. With social media, athletes and teams engage directly with supporters, and drive discussion about everything from team selection, to lifestyle trends, to socially acceptable behaviour at sporting matches.
Smart cities programmes need citizen engagement
Similarly, smart cities such as Dubai, Boston, Barcelona, Buenos Aires, and Toronto are using Internet of Things technologies to make intelligent decisions on how they manage urban matters and engage citizens.