The cities of the future need to be sustainable, offering the best possible services efficiently and improving the overall quality of urban life. Meeting this goal will involve finding ways of interacting with city residents to help shape public services, for example transport and healthcare.
To address this challenge, cities have a number of assets at their disposal. They can, for example, make better use of their sensor and data infrastructures. They can also draw on the input of smartphone-empowered residents. Many citizens already use mobile devices to access city services in their everyday activities.
A number of questions arise in this context. How, for instance, can city authorities gain a better understanding of the needs of residents and local businesses? How can they boost openness and transparency? And how can technology help to foster closer interactions between the authorities, citizens and businesses in order to enrich open government data?
The IES Cities project set out to address these questions in a bid to bridge the gap between innovation and the adoption of open government services. The project’s main aim is to validate internet-enabled services that citizens can access through mobile urban apps. It focuses on the development of an innovative and open technological framework that will draw citizens and businesses into the innovation process in a number of European cities.
The IES Cities platform is the core element for collaboration on creating a city’s digital services. User-centric mobile services will be able to exploit open data and combine this with citizen-supplied information, notes and recommendations. By making it easier to establish a city-wide ecosystem of such apps, the platform stimulates open innovation – where companies, citizens and councils interact to develop a smarter city that is better equipped to address and meet residents’ needs.
IES Cities is making its platform available in Bristol (UK), Majadahonda and Zaragoza (both in Spain) and Rovereto (Italy). The platform will enable citizens to take on a more active role in their communities – they are no longer mere consumers of information but can act as “prosumers” – providers, producers and consumers of information through their smartphone’s apps.
For example, people would be able to use IES Cities-based apps to find public services in a particular area, report a street light that is not working, share community information using collaborative maps, or monitor energy use at home or work. The project plans to offer one app service available in each city this year and at least two by the end of the project.