Canadian smart cities: Are we wiring new citizen‐local government interactions?

Paper by Peter A. Johnson, Albert Acedo and Pamela J. Robinson: “Governments around the world are developing smart city projects, with the aim to realize diverse goals of increased efficiency, sustainability, citizen engagement, and improved delivery of services. The processes through which these projects are conceptualized vary dramatically, with potential implications for how citizens are involved or engaged.

This research examines the 20 finalists in the Canadian Smart Cities Challenge, a Canadian federal government contest held from 2017 to 2019 to disburse funding in support of smart city projects. We analyzed each of the finalist proposals, coding all instances of citizen engagement used to develop the proposal. A significant majority of the proposals used traditional types of citizen engagement, notably citizen meetings, round tables, and workshops, to develop their smart city plans. We also noted the use of transactional forms of citizen engagement, such as apps, and the use of social media. Despite the general rhetoric of innovation in the development of smart cities, this research finds that citizens are most commonly engaged in traditional ways. This research provides cues for governments that are developing smart city projects, placing an emphasis on the importance of the process of smart city development, and not simply the product….(More)”.