The #CitiesAreListening experiences arise from the mandate to move from social distance to a world driven by communities. UCLG is working on developing a pact for the future: for people, for government, and for the planet. The #CitiesAreListening experience: Dialogue on a smart recovery in the post COVID-19 era, organized by UCLG took place on Wednesday, 18th November, in the framework of the Smart Cities Expo World Congress, this year: Smart Cities Live.
The session is a step in the development of the Pact, fostering dialogue on redefining smart cities and addressing the relationship between technology and the COVID-19 recovery, and the role that local and regional governments need to play when using data and technology.
Moderated by Emilia Saiz, UCLG Secretary-General, the #CitiesAreListening Experience began with the presentation of the UCLG Community of Practice on Digital Cities by Oihane Agirregoitia, Councilor of Public Services, Civic Engagement and Internationalization of Bilbao, and President of BilbaoTIK, who introduced the work lines of the Community of Practice around transparencyand co-creation of digital policies and presented its 2019 Smart Cities Study focusing on smart governance.
“Digital rights have become our present. New technologies are essential for the future of humanity, and you, local leaders have been tasked to think ahead to ensure that our future is shaped with our communities” Emilia Saiz, UCLG Secretary-General
“We need to address a new concept of citizenship centered around participation. A smart government needs to empower citizens through an open government approach that favors citizen participation” Oihane Agirregoitia, Councilor of Public Services, Civic Engagement and Internationalization of Bilbao
The roundtable discussion that followed had the participation of Noraini Roslan, Mayor of Subang Jaya and President of UCLG ASPAC, Aik van Eemeren, Lead Public Tech at CTO, City of Amsterdam, and Kiseok Lee, Director of Foreign affairs & Trade Division, City of Daegu, and addressed how local and regional governments have used data and technology throughout the outbreak to ensure the wellbeing of communities, the risks and opportunities that technology poses for the coming years, and the challenges that we need to overcome to ensure full digital inclusion.
Noraini Roslan, Mayor of Subang Jaya, laid out the efforts of her city in preparation for the recovery, and how the city had used technology to trace contacts and work towards ensuring that communities left behind had the means to stay safe during the pandemic. Coordination with other spheres of government was also highlighted as a key element in the response to the outbreak by Mayor Roslan.
“The question is how do we use smart technology to take care of our people? We have used it to register people to ensure we can trace contacts, but also to help people to start businesses from home and ensuring skill training for people who have had to stay at home”. Noraini Roslan, Mayor of Subang Jaya and President of UCLG ASPAC
Aik van Eeemeren, from the City of Amsterdam, shared the work of the Coalition of Cities for Digital Rights, and the concerns that spurred the coalition into action. Digital rights, access to information, and using technology in service of communities were highlighted as critical elements for transformation, with Mr. van Eemeren urging mayors to ensure that technology is shaped by decision-makers and not the other way around.
“Mayors, city leaders, policymakers, are making choices of how we design our cities and infrastructure and have to evaluate what kind of transformation we want and how far digital technologies should go”. Aik van Eemeren, Lead Public Tech at CTO, City of Amsterdam
Dr. Kiseok Lee, Director of Foreign affairs & Trade Division, City of Daegu laid out the experiences of Daegu around digitalization during the pandemic. Technology and citizen participation, he outlined, were critical in order to manage the virus, and argued that the challenge now lies in ensuring care for people who are distant from digital technologies, in particular older persons.
“Communities and neighbors were critical to our success in managing the virus, working together with government to help curb infections. Voluntary participation is key, and local governments need to use digital technologies to ensure citizen participation” Dr. Kiseok Lee, Director of Foreign affairs & Trade Division, City of Daegu
Wrapping up the session, participants shared with the floor the key values that they thought would need to guide us throughout the pandemic. “Inclusivity”, “trust”, and “collaboration” were identified as the essential principles to guide local action as we move towards a post-COVID era.