A series of recently published blog posts provide an insight into the work of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London (UK), Hamburg (Germany) and Rome (Italy) to encourage citizen participation through smarticipate. The cities provide a candid take on the challenges they face in the project, as well as steps being taken to overcome them.

Paul McDonald, information systems strategist with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, hopes that smarticipate “will make the process of giving feedback on urban planning proposals simple, quick and accessible to many more people.” He writes of the need to involve political leaders in the project, ensuring that they do not feel threatened by the platform. “It’s important that political leaders are aware of the benefits of smarticipate, and that they view it as a way of enhancing their insight and expertise as a way to support their leadership role. It’s not a substitute for the democratic process,” he wrote.

Patricia Hernandez, international relations expert with the City of Rome, believes that bureaucracy is hindering progress in the Italian capital. “The bureaucracy is so complex and old-fashioned that it just slows down the whole process. The good will is there from politicians, the initiative is there from citizens, but in reality the formalities hinder the whole process,” she said. Ms Hernandez hopes that the smarticipate platform will cut through the layers of bureaucracy that have been holding back citizen engagement.

Dr Nicole Schubbe, Project Manager with the Agency for Geoinformation and Surveying of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, is positive about the future of the project, saying that the smarticipate platform will “provide citizens with a greater insight into city planning processes, and will allow them to put forward their own ideas for consideration.”

A new live case study will be published every three months.

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