Citizens put the ‘smart’ into smart cities 

The voices of the community resonate strongly in every truly smart city.

It is a fundamental truth that the smartest components of a smart city are the people who live within them, connected to their local government and interacting with their surroundings through their smart devices.

We know through our work developing a smart regional plan for Rockhampton Regional Council that failure to put the citizen at the heart of things would be a big mistake. This is something we’ve come to believe strongly through our work in urban and regional communities.

So how do we ensure citizens’ voices are heard? One of the answers lies in open data.

Data is every organisation’s greatest asset because it enables evidence-based decision making – and the same applies to community members seeking to get the best out of local facilities and services.  So data must be at the heart of city planning and public policy making.

A recent blog post in the UK, Open data ‘has role in policy making’, highlighted the potential to harness citizen power in public policy making in an increasingly connected digital world. Open data is the vital raw material for this process, enabling an informed, focused and timely dialogue between government and citizens about things that matter to the community. Think of it: publishing accurate data as a basis to engage the community, gain immediate feedback and crowd-source new ideas in priority areas like education, public safety and transport. Government policy makers can also draw on open data to discover what works and what doesn’t, and to help make the case for what to do next.

The data generated within smart cities actually belongs to you and me – the people generating it – thus strengthening the case for data that is truly open. Through access to real-time and citizen-generated data we can plan our cities more effectively and fine-tune the policies that govern them.

As the author of The importance of being open argues, “What we need is wider collaboration between government agencies, academia, private sector players, technology providers and citizens … Access to real-time and citizen generated data in a smart city is very critical since it will help city administrators to take informed policy decisions. A smart solution must make open data access as its first priority.”

Exactly.

Chief Executive Officer