Giving Compass' Take:

• According. to Jared Mondschein, smart city leaders must consider involving local residents to make their initiatives more accessible and successful.

• Without user input from local residents smart city initiatives much more likely to miss their mark. What can you do to encourage leaders to consider involving local residents in conversations about smart city solutions?

• Learn about how involving local residents with more inclusive data can make smart cities more equitable.

Local communities are investing heavily in new sensor-laden technologies as they seek to become "smart cities." By connecting the physical infrastructure of their city to virtual infrastructure that enables the collection, integration and analysis of operational data, local leaders are hoping to improve environmental sustainability, enhance safety, lower costs and empower local residents.

But assessments of these initial efforts have been disappointing. From Toronto to Kansas City, smart city pilot projects are struggling to deliver robust solutions to local challenges.

Local smart city initiative leaders have told me and my colleagues that the technologies themselves aren’t the problem – indeed, the sensors and other tools being deployed are often well established with few issues. Rather, smart cities are struggling to navigate the disparate goals, values and needs of the various stakeholders.

When selecting vendors and products, local city officials engage closely with vendors to identify technology solutions that address local needs. Unfortunately, local residents usually aren’t at the table during these discussions, at times due to non-disclosure agreements with vendors or just an ill-designed strategy. As a result, deployed technologies are often not tailored appropriately for the stakeholders that ultimately matter most – the users.

Engaging local residents is challenging, particularly at early stages in smart city projects when business-sensitive details are being discussed. Some cities have tried – Waterfront Toronto collected public sentiment via town halls and Columbus, OH deployed an experience center in its downtown area to allow residents to interact with the incoming or deployed technologies. But these engagements could be pushed earlier in the project design process.

By involving local users in the initial product selection and even product demonstrations prior to launch, barriers limiting residents’ use of smart city initiatives could be removed.

Read the full article about involving local residents in smart cities initiatives by Jared Mondschein at Smart Cities Dive.