To view a short video capturing the event, click here.

Around 60 participants gathered in Kensington Town Hall on an overcast Saturday morning on 17 September for the first ever ‘Smartathon’, a meeting to gather residents’ input on the upcoming smarticipate platform. The aim was to allow residents to voice concerns and to help shape the final tool.

The event saw spirited debate, with a range of questions, criticisms, concerns and congratulations directed from the floor at those presenting the tool. Residents asked pointed questions about the use of open data, citing safety and privacy issues. One particular concern was whether residents using the tool would be identifiable by their address.

Residents also stressed the need to involve other London boroughs, stating that it would be a ‘missed opportunity’ to engage more Londoners if it was restricted to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea only.

One resident wondered how input into the platform would be weighted, and whether someone giving feedback on planning processes taking place in the borough from New York City would have the same impact as someone giving input from Kensington or Chelsea. The smarticipate team was pleased to hear such engaged and astute debate, and will take the concerns raised on board when designing the final product.

After an introduction from Paul McDonald, information services strategist with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Andries Geerse from smarticipate partner WeLoveTheCity presented a fictional ‘urban story’ for London in which residents use the smarticipate platform to develop a football field. This urban story gave participants a better idea of the platform’s capabilities.

Jens Dambruch from Fraunhofer IGD and Jan Peters-Anders from the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT) presented a technical overview of the platform, displaying 3D models of urban environments and a mock-up of the smarticipate platform.

After this, residents broke into smaller groups to discuss the platform and to look at the specifics of the urban story scenario.

Each group was situated at a table, with each table assigned a leader. At the end of the day, the table leaders stood up and presented the outcomes of the discussion. Many of those with serious reservations about the platform had a more positive view of smarticipate by the end of the session.

The strong views, debate and opinions were welcomed by the smarticipate team. The feedback given will be used to create a more useful tool.

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

The Hamburg Smartathon took place on 8 October 2016.