What's the best way to approach smart city projects so that your citizens are properly involved?

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How can you ensure that your smart city products aren’t inadvertently excluding potential users?

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Voluntary Sector

What’s the most effective role you can play in enabling local communities to engage with smart city initiatives?

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Visual Communications

How do you design smart city visuals that communicate your message as widely as possible?

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This site offers a range of ideas for making sure that your smart city activities are not inadvertently excluding people who should actually be involved.

The early days of discussions about smart cities focussed very much on the technologies: the hardware and software that generate and analyse data to respond to a wide range of urban challenges. More recently though, it's increasingly recognised that if digital technologies are going to make truly smart cities, they have to engage the people in that city. This isn't just a question of digital inclusion, it also makes good sense as a route to deepening innovation and enhancing urban governance.

But cities are hugely complex, not only in terms of their governance and infrastructure but also socially. And that social context is fundamental to the success – or failure – of many aspects of smart.

This toolkit shares the insights generated by a two-year research project, funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council, into a range of smart city projects. A team of academics from The Open University and the University of Oxford explored how different people – citizens, residents, visitors, shoppers, community organisers and others – engaged with a wide range of smart city activities.

We found that a lot of that activity didn’t always engage the right people in the right kinds of ways to maximise its effectiveness.

This wasn't deliberate. It was inadvertent. By not thinking enough about the social aspects of smart cities, these smart city projects didn't engage with as many people as they might have done, and so lost impact and maybe even revenue.

This site gives you the tools you need to reflect on you work with smart city developments. Whether you're a business leader, in smart city policy making or the voluntary sector, you'll find materials here to enable you to check whether your smart city process is engaging the people you need.

If you have any queries or comments about the toolkit, please contact the project lead Professor Gillian Rose at