Imagine going to a restaurant and being served a dish from the chef’s choice. The dish might turn out to be the most delicious dish you have ever eaten. But, it could also go completely wrong. You may be a vegetarian or a vegan or allergic to certain items or perhaps simply detest a certain vegetable or oil. The possibilities are of course endless. And that’s why we have menus. We know what we want, we have a choice. And while we do exercise this choice when it comes to food, clothing, houses, why don’t we exercise the same choice when it comes to our cities? After all cities are a superset of where we live. While most people do not have visibility or means to make a difference into global issues that impact our planet, but we can sure make changes that impact our immediate community, neighborhood and city.
Hence, it is important for citizens to participate and make choices regarding city projects as well. Most cities have a very small percentage of folks involved in city proposals. Two major hurdles hindering city project success are lack of awareness of existing schemes and lack of participation from residents for planning newer schemes. Only when we overcome these challenges, will the city actually build solutions that are inline with the expectations of the citizens. Governing bodies need to ensure that their proposals are prioritized based on the actual needs of the citizens and it is equally important for us responsible citizens to bring issues of importance to the attention of the governing bodies.
According to this excellent article “Smart Cities must place citizen needs first, earn trust” , the success of a city depends on many more stakeholder. It says, “Cities, governments, companies, academia, economists, policy makers, scientists, technological and ethical experts and most importantly, citizens, should all form part of this critical alliance”.
This talk by Francesca Bria, CTIO at Barcelona City Council, provides great insights: