About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

Long exposure of junction at Tottenham Court Road London

The vast majority of cities are still far from making the most of this potential and we are likely to see many tech first projects take off (and probably fail!) in the future.

However, as the abundance of tools, products and services for working with citizens on solving urban challenges that we’ve looked at in this series show it is now easier than ever before to embed collective intelligence based approaches within how we solve urban challenges and develop city services.

Below we highlight ten toolkits and guides that can help city leaders go beyond one of inspirational examples and pilots and think more systematically about how to incorporate collective intelligence in their smart city projects.

Ten collective intelligence city resources to get you started

CivicSmart’s Playbook (a collaborative initiative between the Engagement Lab at Emerson College, the City as Platform Lab at the University of Waterloo, and the Center for Smart Cities and Regions at Arizona State University.) Their White Paper, Playbook and Workshop Practice Guide on ‘Making a Civic Smart City: Designing for Public Value’ aims to equip cities with the means to more effectively engage the public in the complex issues surrounding the implementation of smart city technologies. The playbook includes a range of prompts ‘that can be taken by the range of actors involved in the design and implementation of the smart city, prioritising a values-first approach that can be implemented across organisations’.

This playbook defines smart cities through human experiences, including three ‘mindsets’ (lenses to understand) and six ‘plays’ (ways to start). Originally developed for the City of Calgary, Canada, it offers ways to document, prioritise and advocate for individual human experiences at the nexus of networked technology, data and urbanism. It promotes embracing complexity and designing responsive systems, policies and governance around people for people-centered smart cities. Both PDF and slide deck are available.”

The toolkit contains four tools to help smart cities worldwide include a focus on ICT accessibility and the digital inclusion of persons with disabilities and older persons. It supports a range of organisations and roles related to smart cities, including government managers, policy makers, IT professionals, disability advocates, procurement officials, technology suppliers, and developers who design smart city apps and solutions. Each of the tools addresses a priority challenge identified by global experts as a barrier to the digital inclusion of persons with disabilities and older persons in smart cities.”

Smart Cities for All aims to support city officials looking to improve the accessibility of cities in key performance areas like transport and mobility networks by providing free, pre-vetted downloadable tools that cities can use to analyse their technology and find more accessible options.

Policy toolkit for people-centred cities. “An open-source policy toolkit for cities to develop digital policies that put citizens at the centre, tackle sustainable development goals and make governments more open, transparent, and collaborative.”

In this European Commission report, the Smart Cities Information System has gathered together the best practices from over 80 cities from across 19 countries. These projects showcase how forward thinking on a grand scale can introduce technological advancements not only to buildings and districts, but also entire local communities. The cities presented here are using innovation to encourage wiser, more efficient and more effective energy use and smart living.

Data sharing between citizens and public institutions is a key component of collective intelligence projects. This toolkit provides guidance and resources for private and public organisations to prepare for and design data-sharing initiatives.

The DECODE project outlines how city governments can take a more responsible approach to the collection and use of personal data in smart city projects. The accompanying repository provides free decentralised digital applications that communities can use to leverage the collective value of their data in the smart city.

In his book The Smart Enough City, Ben Green proposes a Framework for the future of smart cities that take on board the criticism of historical tech-led projects and begin with citizen needs and is built on democratic participation.

CrowdLaw for Congress by GovLab at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering is a free, online course and resource kit including training videos, case studies and a 'playbook' of practical strategies showcasing how and why legislatures are using technology to engage the public in lawmaking.

The playbook was designed by Nesta to help people design and deliver a collective intelligence project. It contains a project canvas and collective intelligence method cards that can help cities and communities get started on developing collective intelligence based projects.