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Smart citizens: How the internet facilitates smart choices in city life

This study was conducted online in September 2014 with 9,030 iPhone and Android smartphone users aged between 15 and 69. Respondents, representing 61 million citizens, were from Beijing, Delhi, London, New York, Paris, Rome, São Paulo, Stockholm and Tokyo. Written statements outlining the concepts tested were rotated so that each respondent saw two thirds of all services.

 In order for people to take a more proactive and participatory role in city life there is a need for a bottom-up change approach while traditional players still deliver ICT services. The main finding of this report was the wish for nomadic and healthy citizens to be able to monitor crowded spaces, optimize energy usage and evaluate the quality of drinking water. 

Most of the concepts tested in this study can clearly have a high impact on everyday city life. For this very reason, city dwellers may feel these services are far too important to be placed in the hands of the next tech startup with a bright idea. People want to  traditional providers of services in these everyday life areas even though there is definitely lots of room for tech companies. As smart citizens are increasingly aware that the information they generate will be shared, most of them want the information generated by public authorities to remain with the authorities.

The future of smart cities will partly be a story of how the citizens themselves are going to define it. As the internet makes people more informed, they can  in turn making better informed decisions. They are becoming smart citizens and through their changing behaviors, efficient practices and smarter social norms they are developing the city they want to live in.

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