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A smart city is a city that uses new Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to optimize operation of its infrastructures, its government and, ultimately, the quality of life of its citizens.

The commitment to making inert beings ‘intelligent’ by, for example, installing sensors in elements of the city’s street furniture, should not, however, hide the fact that a city is no such thing without its people: they are the ones who truly find themselves in a privileged position to make a contribution toward the improvement of the city they live in.

Another pillar of smart cities is the search for an open management model that gives greater importance to citizen participation.

Open Community of Ideas.

In this sense, Innovation Agora offers cities its experience in the development and implementation of a technological tool for participation in institutions and companies, which has already been highly tested, and which enables cities to:

Democratize the process of idea generation through an open-access, online platform that is user-friendly and easy to operate by administrators.

Refine highly valuable ‘raw material’ by reducing any convoluted process to a simple one, based on participation and collaboration: citizens can build a global repository with new ideas or improve existing ideas, thus creating a collective brain that continues to be perfected in time.

Establish bidirectional collaborative mechanisms between institutions and citizens, who share ideas based on their needs, improving the quality of life in their own environment.

Encourage citizen participation in governance processes: ideas social networks are a space built in a very real way by citizens, as opposed to inflexible mechanisms with little or no transparency, such as the suggestion boxes and claims forms implemented by many town councils.

Commit to a social and innovative 2.0 environment, in line with the latest digital advances: Innovation Agora increases participation rates in the so-called Internet Law 90-10-1, which we spoke of in this post.

Present simple and friendly channels for participation, thanks to Innovation Agora’s different functionalities, such as the classification of ideas in strategic, themed categories (transport, housing, culture…) or the use of gamification and motivational techniques (creating challenges, competitions, highlighted ideas, points system and recognition for most active users…).

Offer a total configuration of the participation process: Innovation Agora offers a flexible and customizable platform that also allows to expand or reduce the participation ring for citizens. For example, it can encompass all inhabitants of the municipality, extend to include residents of other cities, or be universal.

Make the most of the city’s potential for knowledge, using a powerful tool that allows cities to find, centralize and add value to the human capital present in every city.

Give the city more visibility, by committing to new technologies as a way to attract investors to a modern, sustainable and intelligent economy, based on knowledge.

Strengthen the local economy, through elements such as idea competitions that drive enterprising projects and their subsequent implementation within the local economy.

Santander, with Santander City Brain, and Móstoles, with Ideas ciudadanas, are two examples of town councils that have chosen to implement ideas social networks through Innovation Agora.

In the case of Santander, capital of Cantabria in northern Spain, results have exceeded expectations: almost 200 registered users have contributed over 800 ideas to build a ‘smart’ Santander that has attracted the interest of several international media, as well as delegations of large corporations such as Google, Microsoft and IBM and mayors of
important cities in China or Japan.

Above all, the Santander City Brain has helped the city council to implement several of its citizen’s ideas to improve their city. For its part, Ideas Ciudadanas, the ideas social network of Móstoles, a city in the autonomous region of Madrid, has enjoyed a promising start since its launch in May.

Many Spanish cities are currently taking steps to become a ‘smart city’. Almost 50 of these already make up the Spanish Smart City Network (Red Española de Ciudades Inteligentes; RECI), which is committed to citizen participation as a basic pillar with the help of ideas social networks.