Co-Creating Smart Cities – Design Thinking for 21st Century Urban Planning

Maria Schulders
European Research Studies Journal, Volume XXV, Issue 2, 301-315, 2022
DOI: 10.35808/ersj/2922


Purpose: The main aim of this paper is to analyze the applicability of the design thinking methodology to the co-creation of smart city solutions. Furthermore, it also examines the evolution of the smart city concept, from the initial Smart City 1.0 model, to Smart Cities 3.0, rooted in civic participation and user-centered urban planning. Methodology: The text includes a review of relevant literature in the field of design thinking and smart city facilitation, in combination with a case study of the Bristol Approach for citizen sensing – a Smart City 3.0 project, utilizing an adaptation of the design thinking framework to co-create a smart solution to air quality deterioration. Findings: The findings of the case study suggest that the co-creation of smart solutions, combined with the application of design-thinking principles, may significantly increase civic participation and feelings of ownership over public initiatives by local populations. Said inclusivity constitutes a key characteristic the Smart City 3.0 model, and may thus aid in the development of sustainable human-centered urban environments. Practical implications: The world is becoming increasingly urbanized, placing a growing emphasis on the importance of urban planning. By fostering collaborative practices, the design thinking methodology may offer a practical guideline for public entities to enable user-centered smart city solutions. Successful implementations of said framework, such as that of the Bristol Approach, illustrate how cities may modify the design thinking model to best suit their purposes of co-creation with local populations. Originality/value: The research paper concerns the application of design thinking to the facilitation of smart city solutions. The utilization of said framework in the creation of smart initiatives may positively impact public management pertaining to urbanization – a global phenomenon of growing significance. The obtained results may be of interest to representatives of the public sector, as well as private entities seeking cooperation with public authorities in the realm of smart city development.

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