Smart city gives power back to citizens

For centuries, power in our society is being divided between the three main groups: citizens, companies and the government. Over the past century, the main focus has shifted to the government. Of the three parties mentioned, the government gained the most power and influence on the existence of the other. She sets the laws and rules that the user must comply with, creates the safety net to solve problems. The government determines the rules for the order and social life but also offers the space and guarantees for our freedom. But like the other groups (citizens and companies), it had to adhere to the Constitution, which sets out our ethical and normative framework.

With the rise of the Internet, that principle has been broken. Practising national and even supra-national action has become extremely difficult. Large companies from outside Europe got a grip on our society and markets via the internet. The influence of American companies such as Google, Amazon and Facebook has increased enormously globally and within Europe. But smaller companies are also increasingly playing a (major) role in the new urbanity, such as in the design of streets, squares and public facilities. Municipalities are becoming increasingly dependent on the specialized knowledge needed to make all physical and administrative systems work and manage properly.

This development does not necessarily have to continue like this. The Internet can also be deployed and arranged in such a way that the power lies with the citizens. The paradoxical situation is that this road has already been prepared by the same internet and the increasing digitization. Partly due to the knowledge and information that is distributed via the internet and social media, the knowledge about digitization and the empowerment of citizens has increased enormously. But we can go much further. The shared major challenges of this time offer opportunities to further increase the social involvement and input of citizens.

But how do we translate human dignity into a time of digitization and technology? What is freedom at a time when you are always connected? And how do we put the citizen at the centre?

This is a pre-publication of the book “A smart city, this is how you do it – Connected, flexible and meaningful: make the real future city”. With theory in the form of essays. And few practical examples of how our regions, cities and villages have already changed. Want to read more? Go to this page to order the book for free.

The original version of the book is in Dutch, click here to order the original edition. From this book is made an English summary. In the English version, we focus on trends.