When it comes to technology, there will always be solutions that we are not yet ready for, as well as the ones we’ve been waiting for too long. Surprisingly, when it comes to city-related technologies, more often than not these two categories are being confused. As a result, some smart solutions receive a cold welcome both from municipalities and citizens. That is why we designed a board game that helps better understand local needs and available technologies.

Gamification in action

Imagine four tables with maximum eight players per board plus a moderator. Each participant has an assigned budget, which he or she can invest in whichever smart technology they choose. As a group, players at a table have 30% of the funds necessary to invest in all of the available solutions. The money can be spent to each player’s liking, but there’s one caveat – no one can invest alone; you need to convince at least one other person at their table to chip in and invest with you. There are three investment rounds. Each table scores points for: generated savings, improvements in the quality of life, sustainability, and so on. The table that spends the lowest amount of money, at the same time bringing about the largest benefits to the local community wins.

City officials investing in their favourite solutions.

New approach to public consultations

The benefits of this sort of approach are easy to predict. Throughout the game, moderators gather information about local needs, preferences, challenges and worries. They get to better understand the local context and generate spot on recommendations for the municipality. The game can then be played again with public administration officials, which creates an opportunity for an in-depth discussion about both citizen’s needs and municipal plans. Our experience shows that even one round of this sort provides inputs and viewpoints that can significantly enhance the creation of local smart city strategy.

This way of running public consultations has at least one more important strength. Throughout the game, communities learn about the smart solutions that have already been implemented in the city (often unbeknownst to them) and can independently assess which solutions they (as a city) should be able afford, which ones would require longer prep time, and so on. In other words, all sides taking part in the game can learn from it and get a better grasp of what’s viable and what’s needed in their city.

Introducing smart technologies in our communities requires us to remember that it is the citizens who come first. A recent report published by Roland Berger ranks cities around the world by the quality of their smart strategies. Not without a reason, the ones at the top of the chart are also the ones that brought citizens on board early on in their planning processes. This is the way to go for municipalities that want to really be smart, and our game is one of the best tools to achieve it.

We have designed the game as part of our cooperation with Philips Lighting Poland, Asseco Data Systems and Microsoft Poland.