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OpenYourCity.com

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“If I were to decipher the message that 2017 is bringing, I would say that data sharing and co-creation will certainly boost urban innovation in the forthcoming years. And that, in Zaragoza, we have some interesting tools to make it happen:

  • our smart Citizen Card, our “de facto” digital platform upon which we can build all sorts of services, from gamification to citizen participation
  • our Open Urban Lab, the co-creation lab of the city, located at the very core of Zaragoza’s flagship innovation hub “Etopia Center for Arts and Technology
  • a thriving civic and innovation ecosystem and a program “100 Ideas ZGZ” conceived to set bottom-up ideas in motion, using the city as an innovation platform

The good news started in Luxembourg. After pitching the Citizen Card in late January on the Big Data Info Days on Horizon 2020 we are overwhelmed by the number of agents from either industry and research arena that have proposed to partner with us in big data-related H2020 calls. Almost simultaneously, four groups of design students from the University of Zaragoza presented four innovative ideas for new services on the Citizen Card. They had been working on them for three months both in the classroom and in the Lab.

A week later we took a plane to Brussels: on Jan, 25th Zaragoza’s Citizen Card received the Green Digital Charter (GDC) 2016 Award on ‘Citizen participation and impact on society’. During the conference ‘Cities in Transition – the role of digital in shaping our future cities’ held in Brussels we had the opportunity to present our current and future data policy and discuss it with an engaged audience from government and academia. Take two concepts already developed in these blog’s pages: Big (open) Data, and Data Sharing.

From left to right: Daniel Sarasa, Carlos Alocen and Gerardo Lahuerta after receiving the Green Digital Charter (GDC) 2016 Award on 'Citizen participation & impact on society'

From left to right: Daniel Sarasa, Carlos Alocen and Gerardo Lahuerta after receiving the Green Digital Charter (GDC) 2016 Award on ‘Citizen participation & impact on society’, Brussels, 25 January 2017

We need European funding to materialize these and other ideas, so we’ve been working very hard with the team on several European proposals for using data to spark and guide the co-creation of new public services. We have already tested this principle within the project CITYkeys, where data has allowed us to identify gaps and opportunities for new transport services: that’s how the future network of bicycle parking spots started to be designed. A path, that of the co-creation of new public services based on data insights, that we intend to develop further.

On Feb, 6th we enrolled on a learning trip to beautiful Cascais (Portugal) to join the “Smart Life Incubator” think tank. We were ‘locked’ by the outstanding TM Forum staff alongside other city policy makers from Tokyo, Liverpool, Nice, Porto, Saint Quentin, Cascais and Utrecht. It was an intense 3-day working session focused on addressing urban challenges through innovation and cooperation between stakeholders. We dealt with problems such as mobility, talent attraction, unemployment, on-line services,… We shared strategies to bring deprived public space back to life, or to improve city response in case of catastrophe. Surprisingly, data sharing was identified as a common enabling vector for most of the challenges. The bad news is that no one seems to know how to make it happen without compromising, either legitimate organization assets or personal privacy: the relationship between big data and governments is still heavily cluttered.

So while everybody talks about co-creation, there is an astonishingly small number of succes stories out there. Most projects, like the “Co-creating responsive urban spaces” initiative in Amsterdam, are just starting.  And data sharing is something we all think should be happening (for the sake of humanity, right?) but that no one has seen yet. In my Master on City Sciences’ thesis I pointed out that there are gigantic organizational and behavioural (psychological) barriers that block the way. As more projects on co-creation start in the following years, and small scale urban data sharing examples are being built, we expect that a whole new body of knowledge about the subject will appear. This knowledge, of course, will blossom on the urban ground, since it is the natural environment where people’s ideas and big (urban) data can turn into solutions.

The story of co-creation and data sharing is just beginning. We’ll be here to write it.”

Daniel Sarasa Funes is urban innovation planner and Smart City Program Manager at Zaragoza City Council. He is co-author of Zaragoza’s digital agenda 2012-2015 “Towards a Smart Citizenship” and co-editor of OpenYourCity.com

Since there cannot be a smart city without smart citizens, the award winner in the first category will be a project that has successfully involved citizens and/or other civil society stakeholders; has adopted a bottom-up approach; and is expected to tackle, or has already tackled, local societal challenges.

Of the 14 projects nominated in this category, three stand a good chance of winning the award:

  • Reykjavik’s Better Reykjavik and My Neighbourhood e-participation projects
  • Utrecht’s Traffic lights hotline
  • Zaragoza’s Citizen Card

‘Better Reykjavik’ and ‘My Neighbourhood’ online consultation tools

Reykjavik, the cBetter-Reykjavik-logoapital of Iceland, aims to enhance citizen participation by developing two dedicated online platforms.

Better Reykjavik is an online consultation forum where the locals can submit, discuss, and prioritise ideas about the municipality’s public services and administration. Each month, the top-rated ideas are processed by the council ‘s standing committees.

Once the feasibility and costs of each project have been assessed, citizens are invited to vote on them in My Neighbourhood, another tool that enables them to participate in the annual budgeting process.

Since its launch in 2010, Better Reykjavik has inspired more than 70,000 people to propose and discuss over 4,500 ideas. To date, 420 ideas have been approved by citizens via My Neighbourhood.

The city of Reykjavik operates these websites jointly with the Citizens Foundation (www.citizens.is), a non-profit organisation dedicated to encouraging citizen participation in governance.

Further information about Reykjavik’s cooperative initiative is available at http://reykjavik.is/en/better-reykjavik-0.

Contact person: Kristinn Jon Olafsson, project manager, Reykjavik smart city: Kristin.jon.olafsson[at]reykjavik.is

Utrecht’s smart mobility project: ‘Traffic lights hotline’

Utrecht, the fourth largest city in the Netherlands, is often referred to as a cyclist’s paradise. This rapidly growing city faces new and unexpected challenges directly linked to its bike-friendly policies. Every day, upwards of 100,000 cyclists ride across the city, sometimes even causing traffic congestion … for their fellow cyclists! Many of them feel that the city’s traffic lights could be better configured, and that some are actually not necessary at all.

hotlinePursuing a smart approach to mobility, Utrecht municipality launched, in February 2015, Traffic Lights Hotline, an online service asking residents to report traffic lights that could be deactivated (for part of the day) or reprogrammed. Nearly 5,000 reports have been received.

The hotline has since become a permanent service, enabling intelligent traffic flow management and improving traffic safety.

The hotline is available at http://mobiliteitsdata-utrecht.nl/verkeer/vri/ (in Dutch only).

Contact person: Muriel Pels, advisor international cooperation and EU funding affairs; m.pels[at]utrecht.nl

 

Zaragoza Citizen Card’

Zaragoza, capital of the Spanish region of Aragon, is located halfway between Barcelona and Madrid. It counts among Europe’s first open-source cities. Zaragoza Citizen Card is a multi-service smart card that can be used for accessing public services and facilities, including payment processing services.

To date, over half of Zaragoza’s atarjetaciudadanadult population have already applied for such an ’all-in-one’ digital key to more than twenty municipal services, including public transport, parking, public libraries, swimming pools, and wifi.

This card is only one example for Zaragoza’s collaborative approach to smart city transformation. In addition to saving costs and making citizens’ life easier, the card comes complete with an open public API (application programming interface), which can be used by citizens to ask questions, and which generates data that can be fed into the city’s innovation ecosystem.

Contact person: Daniel Sarasa Funes, smart city programme manager:  dsarasa[at]zaragoza.es