- Spokane, WA-based living lab Urbanova announced a partnership with global analytics company Gallup to help cities identify projects that matter to the public, according to a press release.
- Gallup will conduct interviews with key industry figures and develop a comprehensive data review to "undercover public priorities" and pain points that citizens want addressed. Urbanova will then aim to align its priorities with the those of the public.
- Through this partnership, Urbanova intends to develop a collaborative process that is "replicable and scalable" for other smart cities to mimic for engagement in their communities.
At the Smart Cities Connect conference in June, AT&T Smart Cities Director of Sales Jori Mendel said in a panel discussion, "'Smart city 2.0' is focused on technology, but it's with the citizen first. You have to engage the entire community to successfully enable a smart city." This same sentiment is how Urbanova is approaching its partnership with Gallup. While many smart city projects are intended to benefit quality of life, gaining insights from the communities they are affecting is the only way to ensure those projects are optimized. Through this practice, it is likely that projects will be more effective — both in practice and in cost.
While not as technologically advanced, surveys are another method of community engagement to help drive the focus of smart city projects. Through city apps, e-mail blasts or even traditional mail-in surveys, community leaders can better understand the needs of their residents without high-tech (and likely high-cost) data processes. Checking out how neighboring communities are hearing the needs of their residents is another surefire way to spark engagement ideas.
Urbanova — a collaboration of Avista, Itron, McKinstry, University District, Washington State University and the City of Spokane, WA — is becoming a living lab leader in the Pacific Northwest. Curt Kirkeby, a fellow engineer at Avista, told Smart Cities Dive, "the cost of tech is dropping and capability is increasing so dramatically that there's really so much opportunity to do so many things." Urbanova leaders have taken this opportunity to heart and, through its projects like its smart streetlight pilot, are making sure smart cities are places where residents want to work, live and play.