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New civic technology aspires to make it easier for citizens to participate and have their voices heard than ever before.
Fremont, CA: Emerging technology has made collaboration possible in recent years: thanks to cloud platforms, Big Data, and the Internet of Things, municipal governments and urban planners can communicate with and collect feedback from citizens on a scale never before possible, as well as sort, analyze, and act on the data collected faster than ever before. This technology has a positive impact on civic engagement in various ways, including providing local governments with the data they require to make educated decisions that benefit the public and allow residents to feel heard. These technologies also allow citizens to communicate directly with the civic bodies that represent them.
Digital tools used by smart cities to foster digital engagement
Tools for civic engagement
Civic technology has the ability to establish new, direct connections between citizens and their governments. Initially, contacting or telling your local officials of a problem would necessitate a large amount of time, attention, and frequently bureaucratic wrangling on the part of the citizen, making it an unattainable goal for most. However, the ability of digital applications to construct toolsets to support these types of interactions has the potential to radically alter how city people react to and enhance their environment.
Tools for organization
Citizens can also be linked together in meaningful groupings using digital tools. City life can often feel like an isolated environment, with neighbors hardly exchanging greetings, let alone knowing each other's names. Civic tech tools can help change that by bringing together groups who share many of the same challenges.
Tools for data
The new Internet of Things (IoT) technology has the ability to produce massive volumes of data that can be utilized to inform new key decisions or day-to-day activities. Already, civil society has mobilized in this direction, and 'citizen scientists' can now install air quality or noise sensors in their windows, while smart trash cans may be able to alert collectors when they are about to overflow. However, in order for this system to function, a reliable network must be in place to support communications.