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How Can Everyday People Get Involved With Smart City Developments?

3 min

Presentation on Smart Cities and the future by Google to Westminster City Youth Council, at Westminster City Hall, London Monday, October 25, 2021 Photograph : Luke MacGregor luke@lukemacgregor.com +44 79 79 74 50 30
After Westminster Council announce the launch of its innovation challenge, Housing Industry Leaders highlights the importance of including residents in smart city developments.

Westminster City Council has today announced the launch of its inaugural Innovation Challenge, opening a call to residents, businesses, visitors, and schools to submit their innovative ideas for the future of the city.

As the first step of Westminster’s Smart City programme, the initiative offers anyone who lives in, works in, or visits the city the chance to have their say.

As part of a drive to become a smarter city, the challenge will identify the issues that really matter to Westminster’s communities and provide an online portal where solutions can be collected.

Whether it is an idea for outdoor office space with Wi-Fi-connected benches or a city hotel for bees, the Challenge is open to any ideas that improve city life.

Entries will be judged by an expert panel representing the best of the city’s arts, technology, business innovation and community spirit, including representatives from Google, Microsoft, and Vodafone.

The overall winner of the Westminster Innovation Award will be unveiled in the new year, along with four theme winners, covering everything from digital inclusion to clean tech innovation solutions, following a robust selection process.

Collaboration with people, businesses and local authorities is key

Winning entries will then be helped to be brought to life with support from the Council, in partnership with GovTech accelerator PUBLIC. A Smart School Competition, in collaboration with Microsoft, will also offer primary and secondary schools the chance to compete for a Smart School Award.

By including residents in the competition, it is hoped that people will welcome the prospect of becoming a smart city more widely. There is always a worry that people won’t recognise the need to become a smart city.

It is essential to empower the local communities to be at the core of all developments.

The Challenge is open to all, but the Council are particularly welcoming entries from excluded communities or those who wouldn’t ordinarily feel empowered to get involved. In addition to entering via the online portal, tailored engagement events including roadshows, library events and hackathons will be held across the Boroughs.

Huge levels of optimism boost hopes for success

Commenting on the landmark challenge, Chief Digital and Innovation Officer, Aruj Haider said: “We’re excited to be launching our Innovation Challenge as a unique opportunity to harness the incredible diversity and creativity of our communities across Westminster and put your great ideas into action. Our Smart City for All programme is all about listening to the innovative ideas from the great minds across our city – so whatever your solution, however big or small, we want to hear it.”

Councillor Paul Swaddle, Cabinet Member for Finance and Smart City at Westminster City Council said: “This innovation Challenge is a launchpad for our long-term aim to make Westminster a world-leading smart city with people at its heart. We want to encourage all our residents, businesses, visitors, and schools to submit the innovative ideas they have about the future of the city they live in.

“We want to give all our communities the opportunities to come together, feel empowered to get involved, inspire each other and work in collaboration with us to deliver the innovations that our city needs. I am confident that we will be inspired and surprised by the ideas that come forward from all walks of life and look forward to turning these great ideas into a reality.”