Skip to main content

David Wilcox

David Wilcox

Free London events on Smart and Networked Cities

2 min read

Next week we are running a free event in London on "Smart City meets Networked City", with a focus on how civic mapping plus digital technology can help connect people and support networks.

There's a few tickets left for the afternoon workshop discussions on March 27, and also for the evening session.

Over the past year we have explored the idea of Networked City as a smart city that is sharing, participatory and inclusive.

We'll have contributions in the evening of March 27 on City Hall's ideas for Smart London, and what this may mean for citizens and civil society organisations.

Before the event we are inviting those attending, and others interested, to take part in a survey that will produce a network map of who is doing what in civic mapping, and who knows who.

We'll use the map as a base from which to explore how to develop a learning network, or Community of Practice, as described here.

If you can't make it next week, we'll be running a further session in the evening of April 19 about "Smart and Networked" with Outlandish at Space4

David Wilcox

The Hub for London to support civil society now recruiting first chief executive #TheWayAhead

4 min read

The Hub for London, supporting civil society organisations, is now advertising for its first chief executive - with some insights into how the organisation may operate. The recruitment notice says:

The Hub for London is a new infrastructure support organisation for the region's civil society. This new organisation will offer a range of support for charities, social action groups and community organisations among others. The hub aims to offer three key functions: information (data and intelligence on civil society across London), networking (supporting civil society engagement and collaboration) as well as a voice and influence (increasing the influence and representation of civil society in policy and regional planning).

The CEO will occupy an exciting and high-profile role that builds on a wider programme of work in place across London called The Way Ahead. The role will have close ties with London Councils, the GLA, London Funders and others and it aims to champion the role of civil society as part of the vital infrastructure for the region. Providing the overall leadership and management for the Hub for London in line with the strategic plan and promoting the profile and interests of the hub and its impact on civil society will be central duties.

The £60,000 a year contract is for two years, with an appointment after interviews in April. The CEO will then be involved in recruitment of a Programme Manager, Networks Partner, Intelligence Coordinator and Operations Officer.

The Hub has £350,000 first-year funding from the City Bridge Trust, and will be run by Greater London Volunteering under revised charitable objectives.

Details about the Hub are included in a candidate information pack.

Plans for the Hub, developed by London Funders and partners under The Way Ahead programme, were criticised by some London networks as too top-down, with insufficient concern for supporting and strengthening grassroots community groups and networks.

The networks formed Our Way Ahead. OWA initially participated in the Hub advisory group, and systems change group, but have now withdrawn **.

The brief for the CEO appear to offer some flexibility on strategy. While the brief emphasises a central leadership role including "To proactively gather the voices and opinions from across the sector and feed this into regional and national policy", the information pack cites the recommendations by the Equalities sub group, and the need to ensure that:

  1. The hub will co-produce its work with stakeholders including actively supporting the involvement of excluded / discriminated communities and organisations ‘Nothing about us, without us’

  2. The hub commits to ensure all involvement and representation in its work reflects London's diverse communities including excluded / discriminated against communities

  3. The work of the hub is accessible and inclusive and enables excluded / discriminated against communities and organisations to actively take part effectively.

  4. The hub and its work is needs led, reflecting the priorities of diverse communities and championing the value that those communities bring to London.

The pack also says that early work on defining a communications narrative for the hub has highlighted the need for it to create a space where civil society is a promoted as a confident, ambitious and equal partner. This will be achieved by:

  • Actively learning and collaborating together
  • Advocating more strongly together
  • Designing for systems needed by civil society in the future
  • Being reflective and responsive to the needs of civil society
  • Meeting the complexity of what’s happening across London and articulating this collectively
  • Linking and supporting all levels of civil society

Thanks to Nikki Wilson for spotting the recruitment notice.

** I was an OWA representative on the advisory group until February 2018.

David Wilcox

Over 60s in Camden confront digital exclusion in their community hub - with help from a local, global business

6 min read

An event in Camden last week showed what volunteers from the local community, and a locally-based company, can do together to address digital inclusion and isolation.

The local volunteers have made Belsize library a community hub, following cuts in staffing. The eight company volunteers were from Dentsu Aegis Network, a global digital agency. The event was a Technology and Afternoon Tea Party. I was there at the invitation of former librarian Myra Newman to do some interviews.

It all went extremely well, and rather than write a report myself I invited Myra and Julian Tooke, from Dentsu Aegis, to offer their perspectives to complement the interviews.

Myra provided me with a headline, and wrote:

"From older people reading the newspapers and looking for human interaction to mothers with young children who feel isolated, Belsize residents benefit from the facilities at Belsize Community Library.

"With books for loan, author talks, activities for children and intergenerational events, the Library run by The Winch is now a thriving hub for the whole community.

"Local residents interested in confronting digital exclusion came to the recent Technology and Afternoon Tea Party for over 60s held at Belsize Community Library in partnership with Dentsu Aegis Network."

"Away from their office desks for the day, the digitally skilful and friendly team of Dentsu volunteers kindly gave 1:1 hands-on help to over 60s with getting to grips with gadgets.

"With a backdrop of a friendly face in a local space also computer help books on the shelves, what better place to get to grips with Skype, Facebook , Instagram, apps, photo albums etc. than in the local community library.

"By popular demand, it is hoped to repeat getting to grips with gadgets sessions by bringing Camden businesses to the residents of Belsize.

"The Friends of Belsize Library were delighted to work with Dentsu Aegis Network and Belsize Library management without whom the event would not have been possible."

Here's my interview with Julian:

And Julian wrote:

"As a company which embraces the digital economy, Dentsu Aegis Network feels passionately that everyone should benefit from it and be a part of it. Exclusion from the digital world means that individuals are excluded from a platform for socialising, being part of democratic debates, bargain hunting and accessing an infinite amount of knowledge.

"When Belsize Library approached us about setting up a ‘Tea and Tech’ day, to train older people in how to use technology, we were delighted. As the key hub for the whole community in Belsize, the library was the perfect venue for the training. As a Camden employer, it gave us a chance to put something back into our community and the whole Dentsu Aegis Network team found the day really fulfilling."

Local residents Lynda Stuart and Eleanor Burke talked to me about what they had learned - not least from each other.

Kenteas Brine was having a great time with Emma Chandler, from Dentsu Aegis, exploring what's possible with phone apps and Twitter - and Emma explained how the company planned their contribution.

All went well except that my microphone mis-performed - which led to rather poor audio. That also meant that the YouTube auto-captioning was inadequate. Fortunately I discovered that Rev will caption videos for $1 a minute, with turnaround in a few hours.

So I learned something after the event - as well as the potential of community-business volunteering for digital inclusion.

Here's some of the feedback from the event

“Thank you very much. Now I can keep photos from e-mail to album”

"Many, many thanks for this workshop. Really helpful for dinosaurs like us – help on security, bus apps, updates, etc. Jim and I enjoyed ourselves very much and learnt a lot”

“Fabulous so useful – lovely helpful Dentsu Aegis team – hope they could come again – regularly – helps with intergenerational interaction for all of diverse backgrounds, age, mutual interest sharing of commitments”

“Thank you so much for your community involvement. The main thing this day has helped me with is confidence in knowing I can use my i-phone and i-pad and that younger people have similar difficulties, ie. it takes time and patience and perseverance. The atomosphere was relaxed and all the Dentsu volunteers extremely helpful and patient. It was also fantastic to be in a local community library as people can access this easily. Lovely lunch also”

“This has been a very useful exercise, and I have benefitted from the advice and direction I have received in the use of i-phone, internet, whatsapp, music and more. Maybe it should be repeated because I am sure there are many people out there who can benefit as I did. I would like to thank you very much indeed”

“Few things I learned today, one of them was how important before buying a computer, ask about the RAM memory & between 8-10 GB is great”

“Thanks so much for putting this on. Robin has helped me a lot with various things to do with the mobile phone and really glad I came. Please put me on the mailing list”

“This is the kind of session/support I’ve been looking for a long time.
I was able to state my requirements/questions and Dentsu volunteers listened patiently and sorted out my problems like how to deal with apps. Investigate why my mobile is so slow. Lovely supportive people - please come again”

Update: Myra reminds me I shouldn't forget the pioneering work of Sharon Tynan, of Age UK London, developing the techy tea and lunch movement with London firms. Here's one I attended in 2015 with a City law firm. Nor should I forget a previous event Myra helped organise in 2014 in Primrose Hill entitled Tea, Toast and T’Internet. I hope there will be many more.

Also previously: Older people need support from the Mayor of London to ensure in

David Wilcox

Older people need support from the @MayorofLondon to ensure #digitalinclusion in #SmartLondon

2 min read

London's organisation for older people recommends the Mayor's Smart City plan should address five key themes for digital inclusion: help in developing skills; training and research; co-designing digital services; connectivity and security; and transport services.

The detailed recommendations from Positive Ageing in London follow from discussion at their conference last month.

I wondered then whether digital inclusion challenges would prove different from several years back. I found many similarities: we may have more tech, but it still isn't getting much easier for older people.

What's different now is that the Mayor has appointed a Chief Digital Officer who is engaged in a listening exercise about what's needed for Smart London.

The blog post about Smart London includes references to more personal learning and skills, connectivity, and transport services - so PAIL's proposals should prove a useful input.

On March 27 we are running a free event on Smart City meet Networked City - organised by Matt Scott with JustMap - where we'll explore the role of social and geographic mapping on developing a more connected and inclusive London. Details here.

David Wilcox

Is digital technology a force for good or harm in our relationships? London lecture explores #socialisolation.

3 min read

Update: There is a transcript of David Robinson's lecture here together with plans to foster a community of practice for Relationship Centred Design to help relationships become the central operating principle of services.

On the one hand, the innovative use of technology may help us address loneliness and social isolation, according to a recent report from iotUK. The report cites a range of interventions that can help individuals maintain relationships, or make new connections.

On the other hand, as David Robinson argues in a powerful series of blog posts about Connecting Well, the effects of technology on our economy and communities remove many of the ways that we have connected in the past:

We have hollowed out the heart of our business with call centres, our high streets with cash points and self-service checkouts, our neighbourhoods with design that strips out interaction and our public services with carers commissioned for seven minute visits, retendered every three months. Fake relationships are as ubiquitous in 2017, and just as insidious, as fake news.

We have been here before. The agrarian and industrial revolutions disrupted social patterns and called for new ways of behaving. Social change followed but it took a while. Now we are again in that catch up phase. If the technological upheaval that has so changed and devalued relationships is the third revolution, then this is 3.2.

We can’t rewind the clock but nor should we accept a devaluation in the currency of relationships as the price of advancement.

This is the theme of David's lecture in London on Monday March 12: How relationships change the world, and where to go with what we know.

David is one of the most respected figures in London community development, with 40 years experience in the field. He and Will Horwitz developed a blog, and later edited a book called Changing London, before the last Mayoral election. He kindly agreed that I could republish his Medium blog posts, so you can see the series consolidated here.

What's refreshing about David's approach is that he recognises that we have to work through the detail of living with technology.

Banning or avoiding the technology or denying the overwhelming benefits of progress is futile and foolish. Instead we have to learn how to benefit from it in ways which don’t diminish our humanity but sustain and enrich it. We have to do things differently.

I'm looking forward to Monday's lecture, and taking discussions further at an that event Connecting Londoners and JustSpace are organising with Matt Scott on March 27: Smart City meets Network City.

David Wilcox

A fresh look at #digitalinclusion and older people from @pailondon. Tech changes - but do the challenges remain the same?

4 min read

The multi-sided challenge of how to address digital inclusion among older people in London will receive a welcome refresh tomorrow through a conference organised by Positive Ageing in London.

It will provide a timely input to the new Smart London plan, which I wrote about here.

For me it will be a chance to revisit explorations into Living Well in the Digital Age, carried out a few years ago with Nominet Trust, Age Action Alliance and the Centre for Ageing Better. These are summarised here.

Back in 2015 we pulled together, from various sources, a set of provocations and challenges.

  1. There isn’t an opt-out from technology - but you can choose how much you participate. (Technology has changed the world dramatically, and it will continue to change. What’s important is enabling people to choose how they engage).
  2. Government is concerned that many older people are not online - but there are limits to what government can do. (People will engage with what’s interesting and useful to them, and use devices that most suit their needs).
  3. Everyone needs Internet access … but beyond that, no one size fits all. (Cost is a barrier, and then personalisation is important).
  4. Computer courses and basic skills training don’t meet the needs of many older people. (Tablets are much easier to use than computers for most purposes, and smart phones and smart TVs may also meet many people’s needs).
  5. Simpler interfaces are needed for computers and mobile devices - not just more functions. (Older people should be involved in design).
  6. Relatively few organisations in the ageing field are actively engaged in the online world or using collaborative tools. (Using social technology should help enable greater greater cooperation).
  7. Digital social innovations in services are not scaling. (There’s too much focus on the tech, and not enough on what it does, together with a lot of re-invention).
  8. There is a raft of research, but little knowledge-sharing of that and day-to-day practice. (A lot of research is hidden and not transferred to practice. A culture of competitive tendering reduces people’s inclination to cooperate and use what’s already available).
  9. The energy for change lies with apps, connectors and storytellers. (To which we can add, evolution of trusted technologies such as TVs. Bring the storytellers together).
  10. The digital divide is no longer a useful metaphor. Reality is more complex.

The technologies may have advanced in three years, but my hunch is that many of the challenges remain the same.

I expect to return to these themes in the new Community of Practice that we are planning for the next stage of Networked City, and hope to find some people at the conference who may be interested.

Update: There's some good content from the day in tweets ... sorry I haven't extracted them. I did however capture the opening slides from PAIL chair Chris Walsh here

My final take:

Excellent conferencence on and at @pailondon. Wide range of latest tech covered including chatbots … discussion revealed need to still cover basics of awareness, affordable, pervasive connection, support and co-design of multi-channel services.

David Wilcox

Give more recognition to community needs and Londoners' voices in #LondonPlan, @londonFunders urge @MayorofLondon

5 min read

The Mayor's draft London Plan should give more recognition to the need for community space, affordable housing for people in the community and voluntary sectors, and a stronger voice for Londoners in developing plans.

These are among recommendations from London funders and the new Hub for London, based on discussion at last week's event with the Greater London Authority, which I reported here.

In a letter to Sadiq Khan, Mayor London, James Banks, Director of London Funders, and Sharon Long, Hub lead at Greater London Volunteering, say:

"We start, as we believe you have done in the development of the plan, with a celebration of London. We are proud of our city, of its diversity, its communities, its resilience and its potential. We are keen that the London Plan builds from this – celebrating our assets, making our communities stronger, and championing the diversity of our communities. We hope our feedback is helpful in identifying where we feel the plan could be enhanced to help make this vision a reality, and have points below under the following five broad themes:

  • Recognising the importance of civil society to the fabric of our city;
  • Moving beyond GDP as a way of recognising value in London; Embedding principles of coproduction into the design and planning process;
  • Considering equalities and inclusion throughout the plan; and
  • Looking at the integration of services to promote whole-person support.

James and Sharon say that "the important role of civil society, through voluntary and community sector organisations and groups, needs a stronger focus throughout the plan".

Among the key points they then make are:

"At a basic level, this can be seen in the absence of sections that consider the way in which space is needed by communities – moving beyond requirements for developers to include community space, or for local authorities to make under-utilised space available (despite the pressures they are under financially, making some proposals around asset transfer to the sector economically unviable), but to putting communities at the heart through ensuring that there are spaces that meet their needs, that are designed with community involvement from the outset, and that this approach is embedded in the planning process. This would prevent the situation emerging where community space is created which is not fit for purpose.

"In addition, the question of affordability of housing and services, from the perspective of people who work in the not-for-profit sector, is also an issue affective the vibrancy and sustainability of the voluntary and community sector groups that our communities depend upon. We recognise the commitment to increase affordable housing, though would push for a clearer definition of affordable that takes accounts of the needs of our civil society sector alongside those of aligned sectors".

They advocate great cooperation and collaboration the development of plans:

"We would also recommend embedding the principle of coproduction in the planning process directed by the plan. Giving Londoners and communities a stronger voice in the development and implementation of the plan, and in the frameworks and policies that will shape our city, will ensure that development meets the needs of all. Mechanisms that celebrate coproduction, for example through positively prioritising proposals for development that are built upon coproduced designs with the community, would aid a more inclusive city. There are established frameworks for putting Londoners at the heart of decisions that affect their lives and spaces, for example through the reports produced by The Way Ahead programme which draw on the expertise of people across civil society, public and business communities.

Summary of recommendations

Based on the comments above, some concrete recommendations would be:

  • Include a section highlighting the contribution, needs and requirements of the voluntary and community sector as a specific sector of London’s economy;
  • Ensure the role of civil society is recognised in all sections of the plan, not just as part of the “social infrastructure” of the city;
  • Bring in teams at City Hall working on the civil society narrative, to ensure that strategies align and there is consistency in how the GLA plans to celebrate civil society;
  • Clarify the meaning of “community space” and outline more clearly how communities and the voluntary and community sector need to be involved in designing this;
  • Include social value as a measure of good growth, not just economic measures of success;
  • Prioritise coproduction and community involvement through the planning process;
  • Consider closely the equalities impact of the policies in the plan, and ensure that the needs of all communities (current, developing and emerging) are met by the plan; and
  • Promote the integration of services from across sectors in meeting the needs of Londoners, moving beyond current policy priorities focused on the public sector delivery partners.

"We recognise throughout that this is a long-term plan with a strong vision for London, but that the context in which we all operate is shifting constantly. We hope that embedding approaches such as coproduction and a greater recognition of civil society from the outset will create more opportunities for innovation, positive change and responsive flexibility in the implementation of the plan over the coming years, and that this will lead to a London we will continue to be proud of."

London Funders is the membership body for London's funding community. The Hub for London is a new resource for civil society being developed by Greater London Volunteering.

David Wilcox

Lots of plans affecting London civil society - now we need someone to join them up for #TheWayAhead and @MayorofLondon

5 min read

Lively discussion and networking at today's meeting about London Plan social infrastructure left me with plenty of insights and one over-riding impression: no-one is looking in-the-round at the future of London's communities.

That's frustrating - but also an opportunity for convening different interests to realise the idea of co-production originally promoted in The Way Ahead plans for civil society.

We currently have a number of plans and initiatives relevant to civil society (links at the end):

  • The draft London plan, from the Greater London Authority: as thick as a couple of telephone directories, but mainly focussed on geographic and locational issues.
  • An emerging GLA civil society strategy: some good consultation by consultants last year, but likely to be more of an action plan than an overall strategy, we heard today.
  • The Way Ahead plans for a resource Hub for London: currently focussed on staff recruitment for an organisation born from Greater London Volunteering, with wider infrastructure plans awaiting staff.
  • Smart London: a more recent development, which has references to community and civil society but as yet little substance on that front.

At the same time we have lost the London Voluntary Service Council, now in liquidation after 107 years, and Greater London Volunteering is transitioning to become the Hub for London.

All this led to some discussion today about who will help articulate the needs of local communities faced with loss of facilities, and the future of voluntary bodies faced with spending cuts.

The original "Way Ahead" review by London Funders - who helped organise today's event - advocated a pragmatic co-production approach:

  • communities identifying for themselves, with support if needed, what their needs are
  • funders, the public sector and civil society’s understanding of need being based on what communities identify for themselves
  • communities being enabled to change their own lives for the better
  • communities shaping solutions and responses to opportunities
  • communities shaping services delivered by others, whether these be public sector or civil society services
  • communities advocating and campaigning on their own behalf, with support if needed

Somehow that community ethos has gone from current plans (subject, of course, to what happens when Hub staff are in place).

At the moment this loss of community focus means that the community and social heart is missing from the various plans - and there is nothing to join them up in the interests of Londoners.

That's an issue that led to the formation of Our Way Ahead, a network of local and pan-London networks promoting a more bottom-up and bottom-across approach, and the continuing work of Just Space as a voice for Londoners in planning strategies, [edit] and facilitating & amplifying each other's voices.

It's been the focus for Connecting Londoners and our Networked City exploration over the past year.

I guess this lack of joined up policy is what happens during times of organisational transition: unfortunately this is also a time of great social stress.

Although I've focussed here on the problem, there was also a lot of goodwill in the room at City Hall. People are frustrated - but also keen to collaborate on ways forward.

What's needed is a convenor without a vested interested in a particular perspective.

I wonder whether Big Lottery Fund has a role? Their strategic framework says:

  • We believe people should be in the lead in improving their lives and communities. Our approach will focus on the skills, assets and energy that people can draw upon and the potential in their ideas.

  • We feel that strong, vibrant communities can be built and renewed by the people living in them – making them ready for anything in the face of future opportunities and challenges.

I worked with colleagues on a People Power Change exploration for BLF a few years back. I think our current ideas for a Community of Practice for connecting communities are relevant, together with the ideas on co-production I drafted for The Way Ahead working group on the topic.

We suggest that institutional plans and structures only go so far: what's needed is a platform for change agents who use a mix of community building, technology, story telling and other methods to help connect people, networks and organise, and realise the assets in communities. Making pragmatic co-production real.

Currently Networked City, Connecting Londoners and Our Way Ahead are planning an event at the end of March to provide input to the Smart City initiative, with some mapping and comms work beforehand. Today's discussion make me wonder whether there's scope for a process and event to do something more substantial.


David Wilcox

Why Smart City London should be a #NetworkedCity: participatory, sharing, inclusive and accessible

10 min read

City Hall have launched a "listening exercise" to help the Chief Digital Officer Theo Blackwell and his Board fulfil the Mayor's aim to make London the world's leading Smart City.

Currently Bristol is judged to be in the lead with Manchester and Birmingham third and fourth.

The Huawei UK Smart Cities Index rankings were calculated by an in-depth analysis of ten criteria within the cities’ strategy and execution, covering areas such as their vision, digital innovation, implementation record, environmental impact and community reach.

There are examples in Theo Blackwell's blog post on Medium of "how data and smart initiatives can help citizens". I hope Smart City plans may also help our communities and social structure, about which more later.

Update: Now spotted that Smart London have also published on Medium:

The listening exercise blog post suggests we could get:

Improved public services — City budgeting focused on citizen outcomes, not departmental spending; Bringing health and social care data together for targeted care; live waste data to improve recycling rates and collection frequency; better/digitised public services lowering costs.

Public spaces — sharing of data on the local places citizens use can lead to better design of GP surgeries, schools, parks, shops, and access to sports, entertainment and culture venues during the day and at night.

More personal learning and skills — targeted learning based on personal data and a better understanding of needs and preferences, work patterns or caring responsibilities.

Participation — through civic crowdfunding for neighbourhood projects, participatory financing, community budgeting and better planning/regeneration representation on developments.

Transport reliability and options — Using tracking data from Wifi to guide new travel choices such as smart mobility, car and bicycle sharing and testing autonomous vehicles.

Energy — data on energy consumption from smart meters, if securely and privately shared, and processed alongside public data, could inform better policy making, investment and business decisions, as well as fuel the creation of more tailored and personalised services — increasing inclusion and meeting the specific aim of reducing fuel poverty.

Better public Wifi and connectivity —using public buildings and streets and parks; preparing for 5G technologies.

Personal and public health — such as using data to encourage walking and cycling and steer citizens away from air pollution hotspots; collecting health tracking data and health records with academia, boroughs, and drug manufacturers to tackle chronic diseases of Londoners such as diabetes and asthma

More reliable home and office services — in energy, broadband, water, security services; for example, sharing of energy data to allow for local energy trading/cheaper forms of local energy supply.

What's not too clear from the blog post is how City Hall sees Smart City contributing to its other priorities in the London plan - for example the Mayor's Vision for a Diverse and Inclusive City. I'll check in with the Smart City team to see if there is more in the plan.

That's important because these days tech isn't necessarily seen as wholly beneficial.

Last year NESTA ran an excellent event on digital innovation where CEO Geoff Mulgan explained why digital social innovation should be both bottom-up and top-down.

What we have learned - contrary to many expectations 30 or 40 years ago - is that most of the dynamic of digital and indeed the knowledge economy, through most societies, is that it widens disparity, it widens inequalities. It creates fantastic pockets and hubs of amazing activity in London or Barcelona or Berlin or Copenhagen but actually the distance in terms of life opportunity, income and so on tends to widen, so it is really important that we focus again and again on the social dimension and don’t just celebrate the digital.

At the NESTA event we heard about the Barcelona Digital City Plan. The plan covers:

A City in Common Technology for social change and public sector innovation

  • Develop a public, open and distributed citizen data infrastructure
  • Launch an open standards data collection platform
  • Implement strategies to involve citizens, businesses, communities, organizations, universities and research centers
  • Public administration digital transformation and innovation

Democratic City Technology for a participatory, collaborative and transparent city

  • Develop and standardize new models of participation in digital environment
  • Technological citizenship sovereignty and digital rights
  • Create a XXI century education and training for life and work
  • Bring emerging technologies closer to citizens to foster a modern, conscious, active and participatory society

Circular City Technology for a new, more sustainable and efficient urban model

  • Address with sustainability criteria, the most urgent urban problems
  • Reduce the digital gap between the different neighborhoods
  • Share and provide collective access to resources through democratic governance
  • Stimulate the culture of invention and technological innovation

Creative City Technology to promote invention, entrepreneurship and social innovation

  • Boost a more efficient, transparent and strategic use of public spending
  • Promote public administration innovation, within SMEs and Cooperatives
  • Stimulate the Barcelona network for digital social innovation
  • Foster a more pluralistic digital economy and make a new urban innovation model

Here's further inspiration from Barcelona - an interview in Shareable with Francesca Bria, the chief innovation officer: Building the Networked City From the Ground Up With Citizens

In 2015 NESTA published a report Rethinking Smart Cities from the ground up that argued for a people-centred approach to smart cities:

" To have a chance of helping cities address some of the tough problems they face, we argue that further investment and support are needed to generate evidence about which approaches to using collaborative technologies are most effective. Cities then need to share these lessons so that other cities can adopt and build on the most successful approaches. In the introduction of this report we set out five main recommendations on how cities can better achieve this.

  • Set up a civic innovation lab to drive innovation in collaborative technologies.
  • Use open data and open platforms to mobilise collective knowledge.
  • Take human behaviour as seriously as technology.
  • Invest in smart people, not just smart technology.
  • Spread the potential of collaborative technologies to all parts of society."

I'm hopefully that there's scope to introduce this sort of thinking, as Smart City plans develop.

We can offer some input from the Networked City exploration we've been engaged in for the past year: overview here on our wiki.

The briefing paper for our launch event offered a model of communities as social ecosystems, whose connectedness and health is affected for good or ill by technology.

It is a case made strongly more recently, by David Robinson, as I reported here. David argues that technology is increasing social isolation, and that we have to plan how to use it to positive effect.

David posted ten pieces about Connecting Well on Medium, and has agreed that I can repost them here on our wiki. In addition, David will be speaking at a free event on March 12 2018. How relationships change the world, and where to go with what we know. That's a must.

Over the past year Networked City and Connecting Londoners has focussed on plans for new infrastructure for London civil society, and in particular plans for a resource Hub for London.

Together with the Our Way Ahead network of networks we've made the case for a networked approach, not just a central resource, and for investing in people to achieve that.

The priority functions for the Hub are now agreed as data, networks and networking, and voice/influencing. The Smart City team have invited the advisory group to the Hub - of which I have been a member - to make an input to plans.

It may be that issues like social isolation, and living well in in digital age, fall outside plans for a Smarter City. If so, I think that makes it all the more important for Hub for London to collaborate to address these issues.

Addition: in my original post I neglected to mention excellent work at the RSA by senior researcher Brhmie Balaram, which I quoted here. In Cities 3.0 - from data-driven to people-powered Brhmie writes:

We envision that in Networked Cities, P2P technology would be embedded in systems akin to the technology of Smart Cities, but would enable a collaborative approach to problem-solving, as it has in Sharing Cities.

In Networked Cities, however, the goal citizens are working towards is broader than managing shared assets and resource; the ambition here would be to apply P2P technology to support inclusive growth. While cities have long been drivers of growth, in recent years they have also struggled with widening inequality, compelling cities to pursue a new agenda that rebalances social objectives and economic priorities. Under the banner of achieving inclusive growth, cities must find solutions to emerging problems of health, housing, the environment, ageing and other demographic change.

At the RSA, we’d argue that Networked Cities goes beyond simply rethinking the Smart City or Sharing City in terms of the tools or technologies that we use, or how we engage citizens, because we are also redefining the problems and challenges being tackled. The Networked City is about more than managing public space and population growth or enabling resource efficiency; rather it takes into account wider social challenges that cities are confronting in their pursuit of a more equal society.

Networked City and Hub for London

Smart Cities