26 Sep Breaking Energy: Dentons Smart Cities: Community Engagement In Smart City Planning
Smart cities have the ability to connect all infrastructure—electric, gas, water, communications and transportation. Smart city initiatives may empower consumers to make more thoughtful energy choices. Such choices may offer them energy use and bill management insights, allowing them to prioritize their personal or business goals as they relate to energy efficiency, usage and savings. These initiatives may also give communities tools to improve health, safety and transportation, and to address a host of other particular challenges in their local area.
Building broad community support for a smart cities/communities program is a complex process that requires significant outreach to and collaboration with a community. Communicating specific, tangible benefits of smart technologies, along with being transparent about the costs and investments necessary, must be done early and often in plain, easy-to-understand language. This is crucial to obtaining buy-in for any smart city initiative.
Within a smart city, “innovation” neighborhoods, zones, wards or districts may allow for piloting and testing of pioneering offerings. Such pilot programs may confirm—or repudiate—consumer openness and interest in new products and services. Engaging in comprehensive community involvement is key. Creating buzz and excitement about such innovations could incentivize areas within a city to actively compete to be selected. Emphasizing the ability to customize technologies to a community’s needs, sharing the benefits technologies may bring to communities and educating consumers in the necessary and appropriate forums provide the basis for this engagement pillar.
Consumer/community customization: Smart city technologies can provide for personalized customer offerings based on local demographics, needs, challenges and lifestyles. These offerings can target the consumer’s and community’s motivation, whether it is clean energy, cost savings, health, safety or another factor. Numerous advancements in technology, website functionality, text messaging and apps can connect consumers in real time to their electricity providers; numerous new product offerings and rate plans take advantage of these new technologies.
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