On 28 September, the Smart City Institute released its second Practical Smart City Guide, dedicated to citizen participation. What participatory tools have been selected by the Smart City Institute to help municipalities open up to citizen innovation?
Based in Liège, the Smart City Institute, which is a partnership between ULiège, HEC Liège, private partners and the Walloon Region, is the referent Academic Institute of the Smart Region dynamics of the Digital Wallonia strategy. Its mission: to help all territories, regardless of their size, to engage in “smart and sustainable” projects using a particular methodology. Either by training tomorrow’s managers or by developing research, entrepreneurship or innovation.
Since 2017, the Smart City Institute publishes a practical guide to help communities become smart territories. This second volume focuses explicitly on citizen innovation. A prerequisite considered essential for the construction of a Smart City for three out of four Brussels municipalities, one out of four Walloon municipalities and one out of five Flemish municipalities, reports the Institute.
Proximity and cooperation
“One of the greatest challenges facing our territories is to answer the question: How can we make citizens actors of a sustainable and intelligent territory?” says Nathalie Crutzen, academic director of the Smart City Institute. And she goes on: “Citizen participation means, as a first step, informing citizens of the issues specific to their territory so that they can decide to participate and make reasoned proposals. Secondly, we must ensure that citizens make a real contribution to the actions undertaken by companies and that their opinions are taken into account, particularly through the partial redistribution of decision-making power.”
Designed to encourage citizen involvement, the guide examines eight participative tools based on new technologies. Chosen for their innovative and unifying power, but also their replicability. An example to follow? Open Data. Since last June, Namur has opened its Open Data Platform on the internet. It allows everyone to consult the information of the various communal services. It is free of charge and easy to do. This will enable citizens to find answers, and it allows IT professionals, researchers and developers to create applications and other websites based on this data. As an antidote to studies that regularly highlight the rejection of the smart city concept, this practical guide demonstrates that there is a need for proximity and cooperation between digital innovation and citizens. Exit, the smart city? And enter the shared digital city.