Digital Strategy

Public services in smart cities: Strategies to build experiences that make cities worth living

What does the worth-living city for residents have to do with the experience of digital services offered by smart cities? What are the strategies, challenges and approaches that bring value to the residents and enhance the prestige and role of the government?

The goal is to provide a comfortable experience for residents

There are many goals that need to be built to create a liveable city. In particular, the first consideration is to ensure many advantages for the life of residents: from opportunities to find jobs, income, shopping conditions, security, travel, health services, education, entertainment, etc. That convenience also serves as a measure of the experience of public services brought by the city and through the coordination and promotion of human capital, social capital along with the power of technology towards a good and sustainable life.

However, the planning, design, implementation, and digitization of public services in the government sector is still very limited. Even in the U.S., according to Accenture’s report, 85% of U.S. citizens surveyed said they expect similar or higher quality from government digital services such as commercial organizations, and more than 40% are dissatisfied with government digital services. In another Deloitte survey of 1,200 government officials from more than 70 countries, 82% said improving the resident experience and increasing transparency were the key goals of the administration’s digital strategy. Therefore, from the citizens to the government, it is considered that improving the experience of residents when using digital services from the government is the highest priority.

Strategies for building experiences

Smart cities taking people as a center can help create cities that are not only labeled “smart” but actually meet the needs of the citizens while ensuring comfort for each digital service user. FPT Digital has learned about the main strategies drawn from the experience of many cities around the world. These experiences will help all levels to consider in the journey of creating digital services to better meet each citizen.

Recognize the difference between service and experience

It is easy to confuse what service and experience are that the authorities intend to provide to the citizens. Digital services provided to residents are what civil servants, information technology systems will do for the citizens. While digital experience is how people feel when using any service that it is feeling throughout from before using the service to the time of use and after using the service. For example, an online book company: You can see the simple act of buying a book from a customer. Customer service will be limited to actual transactions with questions such as “Are there books available?”, “Is the salesperson friendly?”, “Is there a store at the counter?” On the other hand, the customer experience starts from the moment the customer considers buying a book until they finish reading it and decide if it’s worth recommending to others. For the online public service government at level 4, it brings a utility experience for people when people only know a single service and state agencies hide a lot of internal services.

Create a seamless experience from start to finish (end-to-end citizens experience) for citizens

The city of Buenos Aires, for example, narrows the gap between people’s expectations and provides a real-world experience. With nearly 15 million inhabitants, Buenos Aires is the most populous municipality in the country. In the past, Buenos Aires has tried to build a response and problem-solving system when residents reflect to solve a variety of problems, from broken street lights to graffiti and pothole repairs, but the city’s internal complaint management system is largely inefficient and slow. Citizens can record complaints or service requests through the call center, but the city typically takes nearly 600 days to resolve the issue. This creates an unacceptable service experience for residents who want to make a complaint to improve the quality of life for the community. To address this issue, the city has adopted digital technologies and launched a mobile app that residents can use to register complaints in person or through social media. For example, when a resident sees a problem such as a missing manhole cover or broken sidewalk, they may post a photo sent to the city along with a short description. Apply integrated geographic information system (GIS) technology, send a complaint location to the nearest public authority or provider to resolve the issue. To close the complaint loop, a city inspector using a mobile device will confirm the work has been completed and upload a photo through the app that shows the problem has been resolved. This is a seamless service from the beginning to the end that fully meets the needs of the people.

Create a homogeneity digital environment

Create a homogeneity platform or application that exploits multiple data sources, which are easy to use for people. Provinces and cities can start building platforms that will connect data related to physical infrastructure (roads, traffic signal systems), different modes of transport (such as public transport) and transportation service providers into an integrated platform. This forms a very important part of the city’s smart vision for the future of the transportation industry. These data will provide a lot of value for people when participating in traffic to make travel easy and convenient.

smart cities
Figure 1: The city of Santander, Spain

For example, the city of Santander, Spain took advantage of data obtained from about 20,000 sensors to upgrade the service. The city builds the “Pulse of the City” app, which can meet many of residents’ needs with a single interface. People can now use real-time traffic information to plan their way to work and also to know when the next bus will arrive. People with asthma can plan their day to avoid highly polluted areas, while other residents can use the app to track progress in road maintenance complaints. This application, with consistent and unified navigation, makes it easy for people to implement.

Exploiting collective intelligence of citizens

Mobile technology makes it easier than ever to harness the collective intelligence of citizens, in order to capture knowledge, ideas, and perspectives that can help drive smarter decisions. In the case of the city of Boston. According to the city’s traditional food safety procedures, health inspectors choose restaurants at random for review. For better targeting restaurants at risk of violations, the city has partnered with Yelp and Harvard Pulse of the City Business School and using algorithms by harnessing people’s collective intelligence will make inspectors 30% to 50% more productive in detecting violations.

Figure 2: Illustration of mobile technology making it easy to harness the collective wisdom of citizens

The approach of the province/city for ease of successful implementation

According to FPT Digital, the big challenge when designing and implementing a suitable experience for people is that public service can be created from many departments. However, for residents, they want needs such as opening a new business store, paying tax bills, etc. to be met quickly and smoothly. The challenge for cities is to make the experience as simple as possible and hide the real complexity behind the services of different administrative units.

Cities should focus on bringing the best experience to residents in any interactive activity. It is necessary to synchronize in all three aspects of approach to help the province/cities realize to improve the quality of experience for people including:

  • Provinces and cities build services as businesses approach: Have the capacity to provide services effectively and activate a data-driven decision culture.
  • Provinces and cities act as service providers: Providing services that serve all people from social care for children and adults to protecting community safety, building a resilient and prosperous local economy.
  • Provinces and cities act as infrastructure providers: The ability to design, supply and maintain infrastructure to meet citizens’ expectations and exploit technology to promote efficiency in operation and management.

Livable cities are met by digital services that provide a comfortable experience for residents and visitors. Strategies for residents’ experiences and synchronous approaches in many aspects from data and services to infrastructure require the advice and design of experts and reputable consultants. Convenient digital service will be a breakthrough in the process of building an excellent experience for residents.



Reference sources:
(1) Accenture
(2) Deloitte
(3) City Innovators Forum

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