Over 40 citizens joined the interactive Smartathon in the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg on Saturday 8 October to help shape the upcoming smarticipate platform. After a brief introduction to the day by smarticipate project partners, the participants gathered in small groups to discuss how open data and information communication technologies (ICT) could facilitate the role of citizens in supporting the planning process of their own urban environments. Starting with the “urban story” developed by the smarticipate team, the Smartathon attendees explored how they themselves might use a tool like smarticipate. From user interfaces to data sources, participants brought their personal experience to the table, sharing how they believed smart technology could best serve citizens.

Many participants voiced their concern about issues like data privacy, accessibility, and the extent to which citizens would truly be brought in to the decision-making process. The roles and responsibilities of citizens and their local councils regarding urban development was also a key topic in discussions.

After considering the broader framework of the project, participants were asked to test-drive a mock version of the smarticipate platform on both desktop and mobile devices. Though the platform presented was only a prototype, users had a chance to get firsthand experience with the digital tools they were discussing. Technical experts from the City of Hamburg and the smarticipate project consortium were on hand to answer questions that arose throughout the day.

The feedback and discussions that took place will provide valuable input into the project as it progresses towards developing the smarticipate platform. Armed with a wealth of detailed input from some of the intended end users, the smarticipate developers will further elaborate the citizen participation platform. Citizens of Hamburg will be invited again to a follow-up Smartathon next year, in which they will get hands-on experience with the tool.

The smarticipate team will travel to Rome to complete the first round of Smartathons, which began in the Royal Boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea.

To see images of the event, visit the smarticipate Flickr account.