Rome (Italy), The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London (UK) and Hamburg (Germany) have detailed their experiences around holding a Smartathon, a forum in which citizens are invited to give feedback on plans by the smarticipate project to use technology to increase citizen involvement in urban planning decisions.

Each city was interviewed, with a blog post written based on their responses.

Rome’s entry looks towards the Smartathon, detailing the challenges of organising such an event. To give Smartathon participants a better understanding of what the event will involve, Rome held two pre-meetings.

“The second meeting was a simulation of the Smartathon,” said Patricia Hernandez, international relations expert with the City of Rome. “We showed participants how the London and Hamburg editions were held, screening the event videos and so on, and giving them a hint of the type of data they will be dealing with. By showing them the previous Smartathons we made it clear that they will run the show!”

Joanna Hammond, Neighbourhood Planning Team Leader with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, was highly impressed by the dedication shown by the participants: “People engaged incredibly well – it was a tough ask to get people to give up most of a Saturday to talk about how something that doesn’t exist might work. I was amazed at the energy levels and the commitment that participants maintained throughout the day.

“Generally, I think the participants liked what they saw of the pilot app but they did stress the eventual product needed to be very easy to use and relevant to their needs and interests.”

In Hamburg, participants at the event agreed that ICT platforms can play an important role in citizen engagement, but had different ideas of how to realise a fruitful cooperation between citizens and the city administration. “I think there are many people who joined the first Smartathon who want to see how it develops,” said Fritz Boysen, a participant at the Hamburg Smartathon. “One participant told me that next time she would come back with all her friends and colleagues.”

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