User-driven innovation in developing Smart City solutions

smart_citiesOver the last years, capital cities in Europe, like London, Amsterdam and Barcelona are coping with the growing amount of citizens. Projections show that urbanisation combined with the overall growth of the world’s population could add another 2.5 billion people to urban populations by 2050, according to the United Nations . Along with their arrival, the cities need to provide services that satisfy needs or problems that arise. Data, typically stored in different public organisations, has to be translated into practical solutions that benefit the citizens.

Much has been said about the need to involve end-users in developing solutions for Smart Cities. This is arguably the most important aspect of delivering useful solutions that improve quality of life and increase city efficiency. Therefore, understanding what end-users actually need is the first step to delivering a range of Smart City solutions. However, many cities we work with are struggling to make this translation and how to obtain and incorporate meaningful insights from citizens. as one of the key city stakeholders.


Typical mistakes your city may want to avoid

Too often, solutions are developed without asking the end-users whether they actually need the solution. The result is wasted resources, an unused product, and perhaps discouragement from continuing an important initiative. Therefore, understanding what end-users actually need is the first step to delivering a range of Smart City solutions.

Of course, simply asking end users what they need is in most cases not enough. Unknown needs and lack of knowledge of possibilities are common problems in user-driven innovation; users don’t know what they don’t know and they don’t know what can actually be done.


Use the right tools early in the process

Fortunately, there are tools to overcome these problems: user-observation, semi-guided brainstorming workshops, and empathy interviews are examples of this. “Smarter” Cities make sure to use a collection of these tools to fully understand user needs.

Likewise, involving users in the early development and evaluation phases is crucial to ensure a successful product. For instance, Rapid Prototyping, the process of creating a quick mock up and testing it with users to implement feedback immediately, ensures instant and constant feedback, improving the final design, and decreasing the chance of leaving out important features.


Bax & Company are experienced in involving end-users in developing Smart City solutions that ensure user adoption and increase service-delivery efficiency. Please feel free to reach out to us if you are interested in hearing more about our work within Smart Cities.


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