Smart cities need people: EU advisor
People have to be at the centre of any successful smart city project
People have to be at the centre of any successful smart city project, according to European Union advisor Jorge Saraiva.
Speaking at the GITEX Vertical Days Smart Cities conference, Saraiva, who is EU Advisor on Smart Cities & Communities, said that the key to happiness, and successful smart city projects, was ensuring citizen engagement from the inception.
"Citizens and communities should be the starting point of any policy for smart cities," he says
Saraiva says that cities should create channels and platforms for citizen engagement, but should avoid dictating solutions and instead involve the citizens from the start of any project. As the residents of the city, citizens have the best local knowledge, and the motivation to improve their environment.
The initial drive for smart cities saw many small projects focused on narrow areas of concern such as waste or energy, but the people were overlooked.
"What happened most of the time, was we start designing the cities on a ‘top-down' approach, but people are not given the things they need to be part of the city - they are an essential part of the success of any city," he says.
"Before the city decides what technology it will acquire for the next 3-5 years, we should do something different and involve the citizens, as a starting point, for policies you are going to be implementing, because then you start with traction and participation of people - which will create success at the end."
Citizen involvement will also increase the diversity of input, and co-creation, Saraiva adds, and which helps the city to increase innovation as a competitive edge.