What do you get when you develop a digital environment and space? A smart city. It was fascinating to hear all about how organisations and groups are maximising the use of technology to improve modern lives.
At the heart of everything though it was vital to remember that communities and cities only exist with people. It is easy for people to get focused on what the technology can do and how big data can be manipulated or utilised. All of this is, of course, interesting but the key question is will it improve people’s lives? If not, or we don’t know, then you have to ask why we are doing that work.
Digital is great when it has a real application that will help people to do something, improve access, or use data to make real changes. I have the same concerns as with those communicators who are fixated on using data and analytics but when you ask them they don’t know why or what it is telling them about the work. We can all get buried in the analytics or lose sight of what is important.
When I spoke at the Smarter Cities conference I realised that the use of social media and digital developments to date at work have been done on a shoestring with just a lot of determination from the people involved. However, what we have attempted is to keep focused on what matters to people and what can help them. The big question we always ask is what operational benefits can we achieve and why are we doing it? If we don’t know then it is time to go back to the drawing board.
Sometimes it is easy to focus on the technology and what it does but forget about the people. A really valuable question today was about how we improve the diversity of those involved in the digital sector and digital work. It is easy to hope that someone else will do that but we can’t. We all have a part to play in encourage people from all backgrounds to start working in the digital sector. It means we can then be more representative and take broader approaches to the developments.
The concept of smart cities is a really interesting one but it can only be achieved with even smarter people involved.