We’ve spoken at length about the innovations Smart Cities are making within their infrastructure and technology to support their sustainability initiatives. But it’s important we remember that one of the most defining features of a smart city is its people.
Smart city developments can play a crucial role in inspiring behavioural change in their citizens, encouraging them to adopt more sustainable patterns and get them thinking about their environmental impact.
For smart cities and businesses to meet their net zero aims faster, sustainability initiatives need to be deeper embedded into the ecosystem of these smart cities.
So why is citizen behaviour so important within a smart city’s efforts to hit net zero initiatives? & how can smart cities influence and incentivise attitudes toward sustainability?
Importance Of Citizen Behaviour In Smart Cities
True sustainable change must come from the ground up, with governments, brands, and officials working hand-in-hand with communities to champion better practices. There is a strong correlation between community prosperity and citizen engagement. A community that feels like it has a say on what happens within their city will show a greater deal of care and passion for their city’s wellbeing.
Only by encouraging and incentivising a change in citizen behaviours can smart cities hope to meet net zero aims. Unfortunately, the importance of citizen engagement and participation is often overlooked in the planning stages of smart cities and their sustainability initiatives.
However, there are some models, such as London’s ‘The Smart London Plan’ which aim to change this. Their model is focused on creating a people-centric smart city, giving city inhabitants more opportunities to influence and shape their communities.
How Smart Cities Can Change Attitudes Around Sustainability
It is all about making citizens part of the solution.
Communities that feel connected to their city through its city officials, governments and businesses are more likely to display a sense of collective ownership over their city. These citizens become the primary champions for sustainable behaviour, creating a knock-on effect influencing less anti-social behaviour such as littering, graffitiing etc.
Local governments and leaders are starting to see that by connecting with their citizens, they are able to develop a more sustainable and prosperous community.
By adding incentivisation and engaging experiences into a smart cities net zero initiatives, officials can target citizen behaviour and demonstrate the importance of their participation on the journey to sustainable practices.
Technology and innovations such as Pavegen were designed as a way to create this connection between citizens and city leaders. Recently, authorities and city officials have used Pavegen as a platform to demonstrate their commitment to more sustainable practices and bring people together under a common goal.
As smart cities develop, they must look to deploy interactive experiences that focus on citizen engagement – unique experiences that combine the digital with the physical. Digital apps that offer relevant information, news and updates about the city are great ways to drive this kind of engagement; as they offer people a greater insight into their surroundings.
Residents and citizens who interact with Pavegen, for example, can use Pavegen GO ENGAGE to track and share their footstep contributions. Authorities, brands, and city officials can then use the platform's backend to better engage with citizens, learn more about their preferences, and show their dedication to improving city life.
What’s more is that through the technology of Pavegen’s companion app, companies can even incentivise their participation, making citizens a driving force behind reach net zero city initiatives.
Sustainable Planning In Smart Cities
Sustainability initiatives should be considered from the very early stages of smart city design. Whilst smart technology and smarter systems and processes will no doubt play a huge role in making a smart city greener, the design and infrastructure of the city are just as important.
Recently Paris displayed their commitment to smarter infrastructure, by developing a 250 million euro plan to address pedestrian accessibility and make it more cycling-friendly.
By developing more pedestrian-friendly cities, smart city developments can alleviate the need for motorised transport, alleviating its effect on city emissions, but also encourage more healthy citizen behaviour.
Smart cities that show a commitment to pedestrianizing city centres help to promote healthier practices, like walking and cycling which have a lasting impact on sustainability initiatives. Walk tracks that further encourage this type of behaviour can create an engaging experience out of something as every day as ‘walking’.
Pavegen have installed their innovative technology in walking tracks outside busy metropolitan areas to great success, by creating an interactive experience that shows the kinetic energy generated through a footstep and driving engagement.
Smart city sustainability initiatives must always include citizen participation and engagement, focusing on developing experiences and infrastructure that inspire behavioural change.
By making citizens part of the solution and opening up a connection between people and city leaders, a smart city can truly demonstrate a commitment to net zero initiatives. The issue that many smart cities run into, is by focusing too much on smart technology and systems and an under appreciation for citizen impact.
Pavegen’s award-winning kinetic technology uses the renewable energy generated by a footstep to help inspire citizens and spark a conversation around sustainability and greener behaviours. The experiences we build in smart cities are designed to educate and engage stakeholders and citizens alike, bridging the gap between both parties and displaying the positive impact of social responsibility.
Using 'people power', Pavegen helps move society towards a more sustainable future through highly engaging experiences that inspire people to think and act more conscientiously around our planet.