Open innovation and the evaluation of internet-enabled public services in smart cities

Krassimira Paskaleva and Ian Cooper in Technovation: This article is focused on public service innovation from an innovation management perspective. It presents research experience gained from a European project for managing social and technological innovation in the production and evaluation of citizen-centred internet-enabled services in the public sector.

It is based on six urban pilot initiatives, which sought to operationalise a new approach to co-producing and co-evaluating civic services in smart cities – commonly referred to as open innovation for smart city services. Research suggests that the evidence base underpinning this approach is not sufficiently robust to support claims being made about its effectiveness.

Instead evaluation research of citizen-centred internet-enabled urban services is in its infancy and there are no tested methods or tools in the literature for supporting this approach.

The paper reports on the development and trialing of a novel Co-evaluation Framework, indicators and reporting categories, used to support the co-production of smart city services in an EU-funded project. Our point of departure is that innovation of services is a sub-set of innovation management that requires effective integration of technological with social innovation, supported by the right skills and capacities. The main skills sets needed for effective co-evaluation of open innovation services are the integration of stakeholder management with evaluation capacities.”

Smart Cities: Digital Solutions for a More Livable Future

Report by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI): “After a decade of experimentation, smart cities are entering a new phase. Although they are only one part of the full tool kit for making a city great, digital solutions are the most powerful and cost-effective additions to that tool kit in many years. This report analyzes dozens of current applications and finds that cities could use them to improve some quality-of-life indicators by 10–30 percent.It also finds that even the most cutting-edge smart cities on the planet are still at the beginning of their journey. ƒ

Smart cities add digital intelligence to existing urban systems, making it possible to do more with less. Connected applications put real-time, transparent information into the hands of users to help them make better choices. These tools can save lives, prevent crime, and reduce the disease burden. They can save time, reduce waste, and even help boost social connectedness. When cities function more efficiently, they also become more productive places to do business. ƒ

MGI assessed how dozens of current smart city applications could perform in three sample cities with varying legacy infrastructure systems and baseline starting points. We found that these tools could reduce fatalities by 8–10 percent, accelerate emergency response times by 20–35 percent, shave the average commute by 15–20 percent, lower the disease burden by 8–15 percent, and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 10–15 percent, among other positive outcomes. ƒ

Our snapshot of deployment in 50 cities around the world shows that wealthier urban areas are generally transforming faster, although many have low public awareness and usage of the applications they have implemented. Asian megacities, with their young populations of digital natives and big urban problems to solve, are achieving exceptionally high adoption. Measured against what is possible today, even the global leaders have more work to do in building out the technology base, rolling out the full range of possible applications, and boosting adoption and user satisfaction. Many cities have not yet implemented some of the applications that could have the biggest potential impact. Since technology never stands still, the bar will only get higher. ƒ

The public sector would be the natural owner of 70 percent of the applications we examined. But 60 percent of the initial investment required to implement the full range of applications could come from private actors. Furthermore, more than half of the initial investment made by the public sector could generate a positive return, whether in direct savings or opportunities to produce revenue. ƒ

The technologies analyzed in this report can help cities make moderate or significant progress toward 70 percent of the Sustainable Development Goals. Yet becoming a smart city is less effective as an economic development strategy for job creation. ƒ Smart cities may disrupt some industries even as they present substantial market opportunities. Customer needs will force a reevaluation of current products and services to meet higher expectations of quality, cost, and efficiency in everything from mobility to healthcare.

Smart city solutions will shift value across the landscape of cities and throughout value chains. Companies looking to enter smart city markets will need different skill sets, creative financing models, and a sharper focus on civic engagement.

Becoming a smart city is not a goal but a means to an end. The entire point is to respond more effectively and dynamically to the needs and desires of residents. Technology is simply a tool to optimize the infrastructure, resources, and spaces they share. Few cities want to lag behind, but it is critical not to get caught up in technology for its own sake. Smart cities need to focus on improving outcomes for residents and enlisting their active participation in shaping the places they call home….(More)”.


Circle Economy: Today during the WeMakeThe.City festival, Circle Economy launched the ‘City-as-a-Service’ publication, which offers a first glimpse into the ‘circular city of the future’. This publication is an initial and practical exploration of how service models will shape the way in which societal needs can be met in a future urban environment and how cities can take a leadership role in a transition towards a circular economy….

Housing, nutrition, mobility, and clothing are primary human needs and directly linked to material extraction. For each of these needs, Circle Economy has examined the potential impacts that service models can have.

By subscribing to a car-sharing service, for example, consumers are able to choose smaller, cheaper and more efficient cars when driving solo. In the Netherlands alone, this would save 2,200 kton of CO2 annually and will reduce annual spending on motoring by 10%. For textiles, a service model could potentially help us avoid “bad buys” that are never worn, which would result in a 15% cost saving for consumers and 23 kton of CO2 in the Netherlands. …

In an increasingly urban world, cities have to play a leading role to drive sustainable transitions and will lead the way on delivering the positive effects of a circular economy – and hence help to close the circularity gap. The circular economy offers a clear roadmap towards realizing the low-carbon, human-centered and prosperous circular city of the future. The ‘City-As-A-Service’ vision is a key next step into this promising future. Ultimately, service models could be a game changer for cities. In fact, city governments can influence this by providing the right boundary conditions and incentives in their policymaking…..(More)”.

Can Smart Cities Be Equitable?

Homi Kharas and Jaana Remes at Project Syndicate: “Around the world, governments are making cities “smarter” by using data and digital technology to build more efficient and livable urban environments. This makes sense: with urban populations growing and infrastructure under strain, smart cities will be better positioned to manage rapid change.

But as digital systems become more pervasive, there is a danger that inequality will deepen unless local governments recognize that tech-driven solutions are as important to the poor as they are to the affluent.

While offline populations can benefit from applications running in the background of daily life – such as intelligent signals that help with traffic flows – they will not have access to the full range of smart-city programs. With smartphones serving as the primary interface in the modern city, closing the digital divide, and extending access to networks and devices, is a critical first step.

City planners can also deploy technology in ways that make cities more inclusive for the poor, the disabled, the elderly, and other vulnerable people. Examples are already abundant.

In New York City, the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit uses interagency data platforms to coordinate door-to-door outreachto residents in need of assistance. In California’s Santa Clara County, predictive analytics help prioritize shelter space for the homeless. On the London Underground, an app called Wayfindr uses Bluetooth to help visually impaired travelers navigate the Tube’s twisting pathways and escalators.

And in Kolkata, India, a Dublin-based startup called Addressing the Unaddressedhas used GPS to provide postal addresses for more than 120,000 slum dwellers in 14 informal communities. The goal is to give residents a legal means of obtaining biometric identification cards, essential documentation needed to access government services and register to vote.

But while these innovations are certainly significant, they are only a fraction of what is possible.

Public health is one area where small investments in technology can bring big benefits to marginalized groups. In the developing world, preventable illnesses comprise a disproportionate share of the disease burden. When data are used to identify demographic groups with elevated risk profiles, low-cost mobile-messaging campaigns can transmit vital prevention information. So-called “m-health” interventions on issues like vaccinations, safe sex, and pre- and post-natal care have been shown to improve health outcomes and lower health-care costs.

Another area ripe for innovation is the development of technologies that directly aid the elderly….(More)”.

Data Governance in the Digital Age

Centre for International Governance Innovation: “Data is being hailed as “the new oil.” The analogy seems appropriate given the growing amount of data being collected, and the advances made in its gathering, storage, manipulation and use for commercial, social and political purposes.

Big data and its application in artificial intelligence, for example, promises to transform the way we live and work — and will generate considerable wealth in the process. But data’s transformative nature also raises important questions around how the benefits are shared, privacy, public security, openness and democracy, and the institutions that will govern the data revolution.

The delicate interplay between these considerations means that they have to be treated jointly, and at every level of the governance process, from local communities to the international arena. This series of essays by leading scholars and practitioners, which is also published as a special report, will explore topics including the rationale for a data strategy, the role of a data strategy for Canadian industries, and policy considerations for domestic and international data governance…







City Data Exchange – Lessons Learned From A Public/Private Data Collaboration

Report by the Municipality of Copenhagen: “The City Data Exchange (CDE) is the product of a collaborative project between the Municipality of Copenhagen, the Capital Region of Denmark, and Hitachi. The purpose of the project is to examine the possibilities of creating a marketplace for the exchange of data between public and private organizations.

The CDE consists of three parts:

  • A collaboration between the different partners on supply, and demand of specific data;
  • A platform for selling and purchasing data aimed at both public, and private organizations;
  • An effort to establish further experience in the field of data exchange between public, and private organizations.

In 2013, the City of Copenhagen, and the Copenhagen Region decided to invest in the creation of a marketplace for the exchange of public, and private sector data. The initial investment was meant as a seed towards a self-sustained marketplace. This was an innovative approach to test the readiness of the market to deliver new data-sharing solutions.

The CDE is the result of a tender by the Municipality of Copenhagen and the Capital Region of Denmark in 2015. Hitachi Consulting won the tender and has invested, and worked with the Municipality of Copenhagen, and the Capital Region of Denmark to establish an organization and a technical platform.

The City Data Exchange (CDE) has closed a gap in regional data infrastructure. Both public-and private sector organizations have used the CDE to gain insights into data use cases, new external data sources, GDPR issues, and to explore the value of their data. Before the CDE was launched, there were only a few options available to purchase or sell data.

The City and the Region of Copenhagen are utilizing the insights from the CDE project to improve their internal activities and to shape new policies. The lessons from the CDE also provide insights into a wider national infrastructure for effective data sharing. Based on the insights from approximately 1000 people that the CDE has been in contact with, the recommendations are:

  • Start with the use case, as it is key to engage the data community that will use the data;
  • Create a data competence hub, where the data community can meet and get support;
  • Create simple standards and guidelines for data publishing.

The following paper presents some of the key findings from our work with the CDE. It has been compiled by Smart City Insights on behalf of the partners of the City Data Exchange project…(More)”.

CrowdLaw Manifesto

At the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center this spring, assembled participants  met to discuss CrowdLaw, namely how to use technology to improve the quality and effectiveness of law and policymaking through greater public engagement. We put together and signed 12 principles to promote the use of CrowdLaw by local legislatures and national parliaments, calling for legislatures, technologists and the public to participate in creating more open and participatory lawmaking practices. We invite you to sign the Manifesto using the form below.

Draft dated May 29, 2018

  1. To improve public trust in democratic institutions, we must improve how we govern in the 21st century.
  2. CrowdLaw is any law, policy-making or public decision-making that offers a meaningful opportunity for the public to participate in one or multiples stages of decision-making, including but not limited to the processes of problem identification, solution identification, proposal drafting, ratification, implementation or evaluation.
  3. CrowdLaw draws on innovative processes and technologies and encompasses diverse forms of engagement among elected representatives, public officials, and those they represent.
  4. When designed well, CrowdLaw may help governing institutions obtain more relevant facts and knowledge as well as more diverse perspectives, opinions and ideas to inform governing at each stage and may help the public exercise political will.
  5. When designed well, CrowdLaw may help democratic institutions build trust and the public to play a more active role in their communities and strengthen both active citizenship and democratic culture.
  6. When designed well, CrowdLaw may enable engagement that is thoughtful, inclusive, informed but also efficient, manageable and sustainable.
  7. Therefore, governing institutions at every level should experiment and iterate with CrowdLaw initiatives in order to create formal processes for diverse members of society to participate in order to improve the legitimacy of decision-making, strengthen public trust and produce better outcomes.
  8. Governing institutions at every level should encourage research and learning about CrowdLaw and its impact on individuals, on institutions and on society.
  9. The public also has a responsibility to improve our democracy by demanding and creating opportunities to engage and then actively contributing expertise, experience, data and opinions.
  10. Technologists should work collaboratively across disciplines to develop, evaluate and iterate varied, ethical and secure CrowdLaw platforms and tools, keeping in mind that different participation mechanisms will achieve different goals.
  11. Governing institutions at every level should encourage collaboration across organizations and sectors to test what works and share good practices.
  12. Governing institutions at every level should create the legal and regulatory frameworks necessary to promote CrowdLaw and better forms of public engagement and usher in a new era of more open, participatory and effective governing.

The CrowdLaw Manifesto has been signed by the following individuals and organizations:


  • Victoria Alsina, Senior Fellow at The GovLab and Faculty Associate at Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University
  • Marta Poblet Balcell , Associate Professor, RMIT University
  • Robert Bjarnason — President & Co-founder, Citizens Foundation; Better Reykjavik
  • Pablo Collada — Former Executive Director, Fundación Ciudadano Inteligente
  • Mukelani Dimba — Co-chair, Open Government Partnership
  • Hélène Landemore, Associate Professor of Political Science, Yale University
  • Shu-Yang Lin, re:architect & co-founder,
  • José Luis Martí , Vice-Rector for Innovation and Professor of Legal Philosophy, Pompeu Fabra University
  • Jessica Musila — Executive Director, Mzalendo
  • Sabine Romon — Chief Smart City Officer — General Secretariat, Paris City Council
  • Cristiano Ferri Faría — Director, Hacker Lab, Brazilian House of Representatives
  • Nicola Forster — President and Founder, Swiss Forum on Foreign Policy
  • Raffaele Lillo — Chief Data Officer, Digital Transformation Team, Government of Italy
  • Tarik Nesh-Nash — CEO & Co-founder, GovRight; Ashoka Fellow
  • Beth Simone Noveck, Director, The GovLab and Professor at New York University Tandon School of Engineering
  • Ehud Shapiro , Professor of Computer Science and Biology, Weizmann Institute of Science


  • Citizens Foundation, Iceland
  • Fundación Ciudadano Inteligente, Chile
  • International School for Transparency, South Africa
  • Mzalendo, Kenya
  • Smart Cities, Paris City Council, Paris, France
  • Hacker Lab, Brazilian House of Representatives, Brazil
  • Swiss Forum on Foreign Policy, Switzerland
  • Digital Transformation Team, Government of Italy, Italy
  • The Governance Lab, New York, United States
  • GovRight, Morocco
  • ICT4Dev, Morocco

Citizenship and democratic production

Article by Mara Balestrini and Valeria Right in Open Democracy: “In the last decades we have seen how the concept of innovation has changed, as not only the ecosystem of innovation-producing agents, but also the ways in which innovation is produced have expanded. The concept of producer-innovation, for example, where companies innovate on the basis of self-generated ideas, has been superseded by the concept of user-innovation, where innovation originates from the observation of the consumers’ needs, and then by the concept of consumer-innovation, where consumers enhanced by the new technologies are themselves able to create their own products. Innovation-related business models have changed too. We now talk about not only patent-protected innovation, but also open innovation and even free innovation, where open knowledge sharing plays a key role.

A similar evolution has taken place in the field of the smart city. While the first smart city models prioritized technology left in the hands of experts as a key factor for solving urban problems, more recent initiatives such as Sharing City (Seoul), Co-city (Bologna), or Fab City (Barcelona) focus on citizen participation, open data economics and collaborative-distributed processes as catalysts for innovative solutions to urban challenges. These initiatives could prompt a new wave in the design of more inclusive and sustainable cities by challenging existing power structures, amplifying the range of solutions to urban problems and, possibly, creating value on a larger scale.

In a context of economic austerity and massive urbanization, public administrations are acknowledging the need to seek innovative alternatives to increasing urban demands. Meanwhile, citizens, harnessing the potential of technologies – many of them accessible through open licenses – are putting their creative capacity into practice and contributing to a wave of innovation that could reinvent even the most established sectors.

Contributive production

The virtuous combination of citizen participation and abilities, digital technologies, and open and collaborative strategies is catalyzing innovation in all areas. Citizen innovation encompasses everything, from work and housing to food and health. The scope of work, for example, is potentially affected by the new processes of manufacturing and production on an individual scale: citizens can now produce small and large objects (new capacity), thanks to easy access to new technologies such as 3D printers (new element); they can also take advantage of new intellectual property licenses by adapting innovations from others and freely sharing their own (new rule) in response to a wide range of needs.

Along these lines, between 2015 and 2016, the city of Bristol launched a citizen innovation program aimed at solving problems related to the state of rented homes, which produced solutions through citizen participation and the use of sensors and open data. Citizens designed and produced themselves temperature and humidity sensors – using open hardware (Raspberry Pi), 3D printers and laser cutters – to combat problems related to home damp. These sensors, placed in the homes, allowed to map the scale of the problem, to differentiate between condensation and humidity, and thus to understand if the problem was due to structural failures of the buildings or to bad habits of the tenants. Through the inclusion of affected citizens, the community felt empowered to contribute ideas towards solutions to its problems, together with the landlords and the City Council.

A similar process is currently being undertaken in Amsterdam, Barcelona and Pristina under the umbrella of the Making Sense Project. In this case, citizens affected by environmental issues are producing their own sensors and urban devices to collect open data about the city and organizing collective action and awareness interventions….

Digital social innovation is disrupting the field of health too. There are different manifestations of these processes. First, platforms such as DataDonors or PatientsLikeMe show that there is an increasing citizen participation in biomedical research through the donation of their own health data…. projects such as OpenCare in Milan and mobile applications like Good Sam show how citizens can organize themselves to provide medical services that otherwise would be very costly or at a scale and granularity that the public sector could hardly afford….

The production processes of these products and services force us to think about their political implications and the role of public institutions, as they question the cities’ existing participation and contribution rules. In times of sociopolitical turbulence and austerity plans such as these, there is a need to design and test new approaches to civic participation, production and management which can strengthen democracy, add value and take into account the aspirations, emotional intelligence and agency of both individuals and communities.

In order for the new wave of citizen production to generate social capital, inclusive innovation and well-being, it is necessary to ensure that all citizens, particularly those from less-represented communities, are empowered to contribute and participate in the design of cities-for-all. It is therefore essential to develop programs to increase citizen access to the new technologies and the acquisition of the knowhow and skills needed to use and transform them….(More)

This piece is an excerpt from an original article published as part of the eBook El ecosistema de la Democracia Abierta.

Optimal Scope for Free Flow of Non-Personal Data in Europe

Paper by Simon Forge for the European Parliament Think Tank: “Data is not static in a personal/non-personal classification – with modern analytic methods, certain non-personal data can help to generate personal data – so the distinction may become blurred. Thus, de-anonymisation techniques with advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and manipulation of large datasets will become a major issue. In some new applications, such as smart cities and connected cars, the enormous volumes of data gathered may be used for personal information as well as for non-personal functions, so such data may cross over from the technical and non-personal into the personal domain. A debate is taking place on whether current EU restrictions on confidentiality of personal private information should be relaxed so as to include personal information in free and open data flows. However, it is unlikely that a loosening of such rules will be positive for the growth of open data. Public distrust of open data flows may be exacerbated because of fears of potential commercial misuse of such data, as well of leakages, cyberattacks, and so on. The proposed recommendations are: to promote the use of open data licences to build trust and openness, promote sharing of private enterprises’ data within vertical sectors and across sectors to increase the volume of open data through incentive programmes, support testing for contamination of open data mixed with personal data to ensure open data is scrubbed clean – and so reinforce public confidence, ensure anti-competitive behaviour does not compromise the open data initiative….(More)”.

The world’s first neighbourhood built “from the internet up”

The Economist: “Quayside, an area of flood-prone land stretching for 12 acres (4.8 hectares) on Toronto’s eastern waterfront, is home to a vast, pothole-filled parking lot, low-slung buildings and huge soyabean silos—a crumbling vestige of the area’s bygone days as an industrial port. Many consider it an eyesore but for Sidewalk Labs, an “urban innovation” subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, it is an ideal location for the world’s “first neighbourhood built from the internet up”.

Sidewalk Labs is working in partnership with Waterfront Toronto, an agency representing the federal, provincial and municipal governments that is responsible for developing the area, on a $50m project to overhaul Quayside. It aims to make it a “platform” for testing how emerging technologies might ameliorate urban problems such as pollution, traffic jams and a lack of affordable housing. Its innovations could be rolled out across an 800-acre expanse of the waterfront—an area as large as Venice.

Sidewalk Labs is planning pilot projects across Toronto this summer to test some of the technologies it hopes to employ at Quayside; this is partly to reassure residents. If its detailed plan is approved later this year (by Waterfront Toronto and also by various city authorities), it could start work at Quayside in 2020.

That proposal contains ideas ranging from the familiar to the revolutionary. There will be robots delivering packages and hauling away rubbish via underground tunnels; a thermal energy grid that does not rely on fossil fuels; modular buildings that can shift from residential to retail use; adaptive traffic lights; and snow-melting sidewalks. Private cars are banned; a fleet of self-driving shuttles and robotaxis would roam freely. Google’s Canadian headquarters would relocate there.

Undergirding Quayside would be a “digital layer” with sensors tracking, monitoring and capturing everything from how park benches are used to levels of noise to water use by lavatories. Sidewalk Labs says that collecting, aggregating and analysing such volumes of data will make Quayside efficient, liveable and sustainable. Data would also be fed into a public platform through which residents could, for example, allow maintenance staff into their homes while they are at work.

Similar “smart city” projects, such as Masdar in the United Arab Emirates or South Korea’s Songdo, have spawned lots of hype but are not seen as big successes. Many experience delays because of shifting political and financial winds, or because those overseeing their construction fail to engage locals in the design of communities, says Deland Chan, an expert on smart cities at Stanford University. Dan Doctoroff, the head of Sidewalk Labs, who was deputy to Michael Bloomberg when the latter was mayor of New York City, says that most projects flop because they fail to cross what he terms “the urbanist-technologist divide”.

That divide, between tech types and city-planning specialists, will also need to be bridged before Sidewalk Labs can stick a shovel in the soggy ground at Quayside. Critics of the project worry that in a quest to become a global tech hub, Toronto’s politicians may give it too much freedom. Sidewalk Labs’s proposal notes that the project needs “substantial forbearances from existing [city] laws and regulations”….(More)”.