A smart city project in the UK has crowdsourced ideas in order to better plan the urban redevelopment. As part of a new smart city report, thoughts on the project were welcomed from hundreds of experts across six different domains through a series of 37 workshops at the Hypercatevent in London this year. Hypercat enlisted some of the UK’s leading smart cities experts and organisations to help develop ideas for the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC)– the nation’s largest urban redevelopment project.
The collaboration with Hypercat has helped us to tap into the expertise of a huge number of smart city experts in a very short space of time. I’m keen that the OPDC can quickly build upon the interim Smart Strategy so we can embed technology, innovation and smart approaches into everything we do to plan, design, build, and finance the UK’s largest regeneration project”, said Victoria Hills, OPDC’s chief executive officer.
The OPDC was originally launched in April 2015 so as to drive forward innovation for the site, with the aim of eventually delivering 25,500 homes and 65,000 jobs alongside the construction of an HS2 and Crossrail Station. “A Smart approach at Old Oak and Park Royal will not only further bolster London’s competitive position in the global economy; It also makes economic sense to embed and foster innovation that leads with delivery around growth hubs such as HS2 stations”, Hills said.
In addition, the area is expected to become a ‘sustainable neighbourhood’, embracing various smart technologies with support from Hypercat, in order to enhance economic growth for business and quality of life for residents. “The breadth of areas covered and the richness of the ideas conveyed mean that there is lots of value for other cities in the UK and internationally.
The crowdsourcing strategy brought about many promising recommendations include using technology to reduce waste generation, mitigate and adapt to climate change, improve air quality and intelligently manage clean energy networks. In order to stay integrated and connected, it was suggested the project should use public buildings efficiently and integrate management of transport network capacity.
The success of this crowdsourcing experiment give further credence to encouraging more ideas into the planning phases of smart city development. Not just input from technology and urban planning experts but also from the citizens of the development area itself. After all, it is those citizens who currently live in those areas, know the problems that need solving and will be living with those solutions post-development. The smart city should be planned from the bottom-up not top-down.
Smart cities must communicate plans to citizens in a way they understand, said Gartner analyst Bettina Tratz-Ryan, and make real use-cases clear to everyone in order to succeed. Tratz-Ryan believes that citizens are more likely to adopt smart technologies and allow their data to be used within smart city projects if plans are explained and contextualised from the start.
“If [people] understand and see the value, they’re more likely to download and submit their data to smart city applications”, she said. “I think this is the interaction between having smarter technology and being smarter in communicating the benefits that will actually drive the adoption. If that doesn’t happen, if we just come from the technology, you’ll see more of a hesitance towards the implementation of it”.
There is a huge role for private enterprise to play in making our cities more efficient, provided cities and their residents retain ownership of the data these technologies generate. Open data policies allow cities to find gaps in services themselves, identifying inefficiencies in our transportation systems for example. Such policies allow civic technologists to access information regarding a community’s assets and needs, which in turn allows anyone to identify, and build, potential solutions – creating the Smart City 2.0.
A focused effort to streamline the processes of how data is gathered, what gets released and how and when it is released enables cities to better identify problems and solutions; it makes our future cities more nimble and at less risk of growing stagnant. The alterations now being made to how our cities function, will have a fundamental impact on how they evolve and continue to meet the needs of our increasingly digital society.
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