Citizens and Cities : Citizens and Cities
Why we need to put citizens at the heart of our cities 3 EY and citizen-focused cities | 2 | EY and citizen-focused cities “Cities have to compete for talent. This is not just about GDP. GDP might be the result, but it’s generated by efficient cities where people want to live and make their careers.” Darrin Grimsey, EY Oceania Government and Public Sector Transactions Leader 1 Grattan Institute, 2014 2 Australian Infrastructure Audit, Our Infrastructure Challenges, Infrastructure Australia, April 2015 http://infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/policy- publications/publications/files/Australian-Infrastructure- Audit-Executive-Summary.pdf 3 Ibid. Australia’s cities currently account for 80% of our economic activity.1 They house the majority of Australia’s jobs and much of the nation’s key economic infrastructure. By 2031, cities contribution to the national economy is projected to almost double to $1.6 trillion.2 Australia’s cities face a number of growing pressures, including housing affordability, urban sprawl and rising congestion. Leaders must find a way to deal with these issues, while accommodating a growing population. Infrastructure Australia expects 5.8 million people to move into our four largest cities, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane, by 2031.3 Smart cities are only part of the answer Governments and industry are responding to these challenges with a wave of new initiatives to build smarter and more resilient cities. At EY, we agree that being smart can result in a resilient and prosperous city, whether being embedded in new approaches or in activating existing infrastructure and services. For example, smart technologies, such as data analytics and cybersecurity, underpin a city’s infrastructure and services, including transport and utilities, which serve its social and economic goals. But smart is just a means to an end. Cities cannot grow and thrive without people. So the overarching objective of any smart intervention should be to increase the well-being of residents and to sustain that change. For example, many cities are analysing multiple data sources, including information from traffic cameras and sensors in roads and vehicles, to reduce congestion, improving citizens’ quality of life by shortening commute times and lowering pollution levels. If quality of life is our objective, future cities must have citizens’ needs front and centre during all planning, development and operational activities. Because a truly smart city also allows citizens to forge meaningful connections inward and outward — with each other and with the city’s experiences, culture, environment and opportunity. This means that, as a matter of urgency, city decision makers must seek to understand what connects people emotionally to a city. What makes them happy. What defines the city they love. By engaging with citizens, decision makers can gain access to new, rich and diverse thinking — that will help them grow a city while retaining the essence of what makes it great. This is not to suggest that citizens should make every decision. Cities are home to many different people who hold diverse views and values — and who will not always agree. By engaging with citizens — by understanding their preferences and behaviours — decision makers can listen and respond to local interests without compromising the broader, strategic, long- term vision for our cities.