[INSIGHTS] Gartner Advises Citizen Engagement is Critical

Animation-people-with-life sized-tablets-in-city-scene

At last month’s Gartner Symposium and ITxpo, Gartner explained why citizen engagement is critical to the success of smart cities. Making a city smart goes beyond optimizing traffic patterns and parking availability. Today, smart city planning is much less about technology and much more about people.

“The way forward is a community-driven, bottom-up approach where citizens are an integral part of designing and developing smart cities, and not a top-down policy with city leaders focussing on technology platforms alone,” said Bettina Tratz-Ryan, Research Vice President at Gartner.

Gartner warned that smart citizens are not focussed on technologies like artificial intelligence nor smart machines, but instead on better government services and experiences.

Fundamentally, making cities smarter is about planning better places to live, work, and play. The challenge is that quality of life means very different things to a citizen living in San Diego than to a New York resident. City managers and planners need to engage citizens to hear their ideas and priorities.

Gartner says that citizen-government dialogue is a key component to ensure that the right city planning issues are solved. At MetroQuest, we couldn’t agree more with the world’s leading research and advisory company.

In fact, we take it one step further. While discussions at public meetings or town halls can uncover insights, the resulting information gathered is much too limited and anecdotal to represent the true desires of a city’s residents. Only the most highly motivated residents and businesses attend public meetings

Only by engaging hundreds to thousands of citizens online and educating them about the options and trade-offs can effective engagement be successful in informing and shaping smarter cities.

Today, smart public engagement means going online to survey citizens, while weaving education into the experience to gather informed input.

When leading engineering and consulting firm Michael Baker International was engaged by the Commonwealth of Virginia to reimagine the future of transportation for the state, they used MetroQuest to engage citizens online and to gather informed input.

MetroQuest survey in tablet

The firm collected over 10,000 quantifiable data points from citizens to understand their priorities and to inform a better VTrans2040 – the long-range, statewide multimodal policy plan that provides the overarching vision and goals for transportation. Citizens across Virginia were involved in making choices for the future of their transportation network, including whether autonomous vehicles were a priority.

Take a look at the demo version of the VTrans 2040 survey here! (Note: demo MetroQuest data is not counted toward the final results.)

“Changes in citizen mindsets mean that governments must change their mindsets,” advised Bettina Tratz-Ryan at Gartner. There are plenty who agree. Congratulations to Michael Baker International and the Commonwealth of Virginia on your forward-thinking approach to smart citizen engagement!

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