Smart City Manifesto

Civic Governments have a vision for smart cities and want the public on board. They plan to get people involved with their innovations but people want to make their own choices. It’s a tug of war and we need sophisticated tools to talk to each other, communication channels that maximise the potential of a mobile touch screen. City leaders have to talk to the public but how are they going to do it?

New Era

The community development approach to urban change is a framework for dealing with people that smart cities should employ because we are no longer nation states but interconnected communities. A community is a group of people bonded by shared interests, experiences or information. The largest communities are people who live in cities, i.e. citizens.

In a community approach to development there are some rules. The first step is the assessment of citizen needs. Citizens decide their own issues and the leader of the change, the change agent, addresses these first. Equally important is understanding the local language of the people, how they feel and what they think.

Plans, innovations, the view from the outside - this is secondary. For them to listen to you, first you listen to them.

People are not robots.

And it would be clever in an age of rapidly developing AI not to forget this distinction. 

The Next Challenge

Engagement is more than filling the trough and expecting people to feed, it is the natural byproduct of a process. To serve the next generation it would be wise to retain equal fascination for this process as evangelists express for smart cities.

Certainly this is an age of smart ready citizens, armed with smartphones and the sub-cultural philosophy that knowledge is power. In Munich, where our collaborators are based, students bring their own chairs to lectures. Spaces are getting busier but not bigger. Technology alone cannot solve the problems we face. Solutions rely on people and we should support city leaders with this philosophy.

Reap the Harvest

The second thing to consider in social change is that adoption requires demonstration. Social change cannot be forced but occurs through voluntary acceptance. You must turn people to a way of thinking, especially if they are stuck in their ways.

The problem however is that people have lost trust in government as an institution. For Civic government a community conscious strategy is the solution and this means working in partnership with the public. Imagine Miranda Lambert is playing for an audience of heavy metal fans. Then change to Black Sabbath. Do you see that picture? That’s how engagement levels skyrocket when people are invited to co create their smart cities. 

When people are involved in more than voting in leaders, when they know their thoughts are taken seriously, trust naturally develops. And when people trust they follow recommendation. If people care they go to great lengths to support each other which for government means using the technologies provided. And isn't that the goal?

Civic engagement requires a renewal of the trust we have lost. Considering the smart city market is predicted to pass 3 trillion, maybe 4 trillion in the next decade the future thinking city leaders are beginning to invest in these relationships now.

Over the gun

This is not the same population as the 1800’s. The voice of the public is not going away. It is in fact only getting stronger. Thanks to urbanisation, more people, ideas and data analysis we are witnessing a neo renaissance. A key factor of the 15th century European renaissance was the increased flow of people between cities and exactly like then we need fluidity for it to work. This means communication between government and people, developers and adopters, implementers and visionaries.

The public today can not be lead by an iron fist and the tools for communication that serve a purpose beyond social interaction will hit critical mass. The largest segment of the smart market is the upgrade of government services and the measure of its success will be defined by the strength of their relationships, predicted to improve as we evolve from a system of transmitter - receiver to a fluid network. 

Communication development

The ticket to get us where we’re going is a mobile application that gives people a voice that is quantifiable.

Social media is a fantastic form of broadcasting but at the end of the day it’s most powerful tool is just a video upload representing the voice of individuals. It doesn’t tie anything together. And even with five billion views and half as many likes the numbers have no value. When this many people express themselves with more than like, for example by saying they would recommend the experience because it motivated them to change their life or that public figure should be fired because their politics are prehistoric, then we have high value data suited to negotiations with government.

As much as they must be able to talk to people, people must be able to talk to them.

While we may be excited today about the potential of machine generated data, the golden information of tomorrow is from people and smart city leaders are driving that change.

Citizen E

In the era of smart development digital communication channels are a necessary middle man.

Powered by technology the mobile application closes the gap between the government and the public. It supports high volume data collection and produces immediate live results. No waiting for statistics and analysts to pick the right data for the story. The data is the story and much like the eager students crowding the lecture halls we all have the right to set down a chair and watch it unfold.

It starts with a conversation at SXSW.

We’ve opened a door to the future. It’s your choice how far you choose to enter in.


CJ Ramshaw
Head of Content
[email protected]
March 9, 2018

The Human Internet

New Rulers

AI and machine learning are ruling our digital life.

Our navigation and search behaviour with our social preferences and selections, enriched with our demoscopic attributes and millions of other information nuggets are the core ingredients for the secret sauce of Facebook, Google and others. 

As a result we get a personalised view of the world where things we don’t like or want are erased and things we favour are promoted and featured. And in all this we have no direct feedback possibility. 

Even if we want to express our opinion there are just a few ways to do this: we can like our content, add a comment, rate a product or service with 5 stars or participate in a survey. And 99,999% of us don’t like to do that. 

More Than Numbers

There is no qualitative human review to the quantitive collected opinion of the machine.

We are missing an approach to express in an easy, playful, but still valuable way what we think and even more importantly, how we feel about things. 

That approach would enable a human internet and lead to a conversation instead of accepting a filtered world defined by a black box.


Dirk Ahlrichs
Chief Product Officer
[email protected]
March 7, 2018

Smart Cities

Where we are

Smart cities are fuelled by three things: technology companies, civic authority and citizen needs. Governments invest in technological advances that make life better and sign off on projects that improve urban life. Every city has a different vision for development based on its inhabitants, infrastructure and geographical location.

The exact innovations such as automatic streetlights and live parking updates do not define a smart city. Really these are the cities who are developing great relationships with technology and whose governments understand that fighting innovation is foolish. They invest wisely and use technology to improve ecological, economic and socio-cultural conditions in a time of rising urban populations.


Smart Cities are a market growing at an exponential rate according to every report.

“Smart Cities Market by Focus Areas…” published by Markets and Markets in 2017 that the smart city market will grow from 425$B in 2017 to 1.2$T in 2022. Persistence Market Research released a report in the same year than predicted smart cities to pass the 1 trillion market in 2019 and by 2026 hit 3.48 trillion.

Today 54% of people live in cities and this is expected to increase to 6 billion by 2045 meaning and added 2 billion urban residents.

Cities create more than 80% of global GDP, consume two thirds of the world’s energy and are accountable for 70% of greenhouse gas emissions.


Changing States

The 21st century will be a century of cities
 - Wellington Webb, Mayor of Denver

Civic government have a different attitude to government of nation state and are not afraid to engage their citizens when solving problems. Former Denver Mayor W Webb said “The 19th century was the century of empires, the 20th century was a century of nation states and the 21st century will be a century of cities” The dominant force consequently will be smart cities and their leaders.

Luckily for citizens smart cities have a different approach to the nation state in terms of their relationship with people and believe civic engagement to be a key factor in the successful sustainable development of cities. This is because they seem to be taking a more community centred approach to development, openly stating the importance of assessing citizen needs in urban areas before beginning planning. Although trust in government is declining, city government is of a different philosophy.

Where we’re going

Cities want participation and more than this they want to build strong communities of empowered people who not only have the tools for the co-creation of policy but are culturally expected to contribute. Smart cities mean smart citizens.

As leaders implement their strategies for smarter cities, they will be seeking technologies that can fulfil their needs especially tools that promote civic engagement and participation. This is because engaged citizens make sustainable change possible and sustainability is a key factor in a successful smart city.

The best way to bring people together to solve global problems isn’t through patriotism or one world incentives but to act at a local level, a civic level. When we encourage citizens, the inhabitants of our cities to act with smart city protocols in mind have the potential to repair the many damages of the last century.

Future engagement models

The missing tool for engagement is a communication channel between government and citizens. Most government apps are unused by citizens due to bad design and a lack of personal gain for participants.

Engagement is not simply voting every four years and people need to be able to talk to their leaders with something more quantifiable than social media.

Smart cities are by nature the catalyst that leads true democracy.

The solutions need to be intuitive, mobile and sophisticated.


CJ Ramshaw
Head of Content
[email protected]
March 7, 2018