How do you make your city a better place? How do you engage urban citizens? How do you change their responsibilities and their liabilities?

While people around the world were making new years resolutions, there are startups that were making resolutions four years from now. These startups are setting goals and establishing objectives where citizens of municipalities can have the chance to make their cities more efficient, more effective and more accountable to their needs. I had the privilege to meet with three of these startups at the 4YFN village at the 2017 Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona, and discuss with each of them what it means to be innovative or disruptive in municipal management.

This article showcases each startup and discusses how each of these startups’ “resolutions” can benefit not only their citizenry but also contribute to the greater objective of optimizing the efficiency of city operations and services. Such as optimization can impact the infrastructure and evolution of how city governments connect to their citizens.

To that end, I would like to introduce Mr-Bubo, LiveCities, and Parkd!

Mr-Bubo: An agile Based Incident Management Platform, Which Promotes Active Participation

Mr-Bubo is an innovative startup that complements existing urban participatory platforms. Within the more than $13 billion market of citizen participatory platforms, Mr-Bubo offers innovative solutions to developing the smarter city based on the three fundamental pillars of open government: transparency, collaboration, and participation. Mr-Bubo achieves this goal using process automation, metrics, and two-way communication.

Of the products its offers, Bubo City is the product offered directly to municipalities. Bubo City is a platform specially designed for municipalities (and public entities within municipalities) which optimizes management while strengthening citizen participation and communication. While acknowledging that cities, such as, Dubai, New York, and Barcelona hold the title of being “smart cities,” Pablo Viggiola, International Business Development Lead of Mr-Bubo states that,”there are thousands of cities throughout the world that still do not have the means to become so, and it is those cities, both large and small, that we are trying to help out by giving them the tools and solutions to enhance their citizens life quality.”

Four years from now, Pablo envisions ” a global deployment…allowing cities’ governments, and utility companies to develop a different kind of relationship with their citizens/customers…where citizens are actively participating in making their cities better.”

LiveCities: The Crowdsourcing Platform For Open City Innovation Challenges

Disrupting the way that citizens participate in civic affairs,  LiveCities connects resources, data, and technology to promote active citizenship by encouraging citizens to engage in innovative community projects that strengthen their communities. They do this by utilizing the crowdsourcing model to promote open-innovation on the city level. Maria Alejandra Tord Lira, Marketing Lead at 8wires, provides two examples of how LiveCities promotes citizen participation:

  • A citizen creates an activity to pursue urban gardening and crowdsources for an expert to lead the activity and for neighbors to become involved.
  • The city council of a municipality needs ideas on how to promote correct recycling and ask urban citizens to submit their thoughts and give their opinions on the LiveCities platform.

By providing a platform, citizens can share goods, services, ideas and opinions structured around projects or challenges that have an impact on both the municipal and neighborhood level. According to Maria, “it aims to empower citizens to get involved in city projects and collaborate towards achieving the city they want to live in.”

Why involve citizens? In the context of the smart city, Anxo Armada Fernández, Big Data & Analytics Manager at 8wires observes that, “since the concept of the “smart city” was born, cities are obsessed with implementing technology (such as smart lights, and smart waste) but they are leaving the citizen aside. We propose to create a social backbone and then give access to technology taking citizens into account. The aim of LiveCities is to connect talent and resources to make things happen (activities, projects, events, challenges, etc) and the main thing is to connect citizens by what they do.”

Four years from now, LiveCities envisions itself being the backbone of the city structure by providing a digital environment where individuals and organizations can connect to share opinions, services, and ideas to solve urban challenges in a collaboratively setting. It will be the hub to connect people and technology, because as Anxo asserts, “smart cities have a very important human component and we can’t forget it.”

Parkd: A Platform Making Parking So Simple, Its Magic

Bringing innovation to parking, Parkd has been likened to magic. With an array of products for individuals, businesses, and cities, it provides users with the ability to simply park their car, and pay later. Parkd allows individuals the ability to plug-in a parking dongle, park and pays a monthly bill. It allows businesses to connect their fleet, so their drivers can park anywhere while the business manages their fleet from a dashboard. It allows municipalities the opportunity to offer smart parking payment solutions to its citizens.  No matter what service is used, the goal remains the same – never get a parking ticket again.

So is Parkd innovative or disruptive to the parking industry? Olivier de Clercq, CEO and Co-founder of Parkd believes that it is more innovative because “we can connect with the current parking platform of a city without any required adjustments from their side.” However, Olivier continued, “you could call us disruptive, by promising our clients that you can’t get parking fines anymore. Also, we heard from our customers that the first couple of times they used the system, it really feels like ‘magic’. It’s a new way to park your car.”

When asked how he sees Parkd contributing to the “smarter city” four years from now, Olivier stated that “we’re building something that follows a logical trend. More and more you see that the car is becoming a ‘wallet’ – something you use for the moments you need it. We’re developing our products with this principle in mind, it’s your car that needs to pay for your parking, not you.”

I would like to thank Pablo Viggiola, International Business Development Lead of Mr-Bubo; Maria Alejandra Tord Lira, Marketing Lead at 8wires; Anxo Armada Fernández, Big Data & Analytics Manager at 8wires; and Olivier de Clercq, CEO and Co-founder of Parkd who generously gave me their time to help make this article possible. 

The views expressed in this article do not constitute legal advice and legal information provided in this post should not be relied upon as legal advice. Please contact an Attorney for advice on your specific matter.