smart cities? The priorities of the inhabitants
From smart city it has been spoken for years with different declinations. Among the most popular currents of recent times is that relating to the involvement of citizens, in the awareness that the game is not played so much on technologies - now widely available, and in most cases at affordable prices - as on the widespread adoption range of tools available.
"The point of view of Italian municipalities and citizens" is the title of the latest report prepared by theSmart City Observatory edited by Politecnico di Milano. The study shows that the initiatives in the direction of smart cities are growing in the Peninsula and the cities that have experimented in many application areas, thanks to the benefits obtained, want to continue investing. However, municipalities often focus on the implementation of solutions suitable for single purposes - such as, for example, the energy efficiency of public lighting - rather than deepening services that enable transversal benefits and that can be integrated into a real smart ecosystem.
The survey shows that, with the increase in planning, citizens are also starting to get to know the topic. Although it is still perceived as a futuristic concept and mainly linked to advanced technologies and innovation, those who live in the city have clear needs and see intelligent projects as a solution to the most pressing problems and as a tool to reduce consumption and waste.
Between innovation and inclusiveness
Citizens associate the smart city first of all with the concept of "innovative city" (as expressed by 66% of the interviewees), in which technology is widespread and enables the offer of highly advanced services. Less frequently, the themes of the are associated with the term sustainability (59%) and ofinclusiveness (58%), which in any case complete the meaning of the expression.
However, precisely because of the highly technological and innovative meaning that citizens associate with the term Smart City, the latter is still seen as something futuristic and distant. Thus, only 11% express a fully positive opinion on what has been implemented, while 47% believe that the city they live in has adopted some digital technologies, but that much more could be done.
The priorities? Parking and traffic
As for the priorities to follow in choosing the initiatives to be financed, citizens focus on smart projects that solve the most widespread problems. In particular, the people interviewed mainly complain about the difficulty finding parking (54%), the bad ones road surface conditions (53%), the crime and the vandalism (39%), as well as theexcessive level of traffic and the lack of public transport (both at 37%). Further back, however, the renewable energy communities (30%), a solution dictated by the need to reduce consumption and environmental impact.
Some topics are of lesser interest to citizens, despite the centrality of their role. An example is the citizen engagement, perceived as a priority only in 19% of cases: those who live in the city do not yet consider it necessary to involve themselves in the definition of urban policies. "It is up to the municipalities to take a step forward in this direction and raise awareness of the issue", analysts underline. “Only in this way can people, i.e. the real beneficiaries of the services provided, understand the value generated, test the solutions, make timely suggestions based on lived experience and start a virtuous circle of service improvement”.