SCP E08: The Agency of Citizens in Smart Cities, with Irina Anastasiu

SmartCityPodcast_BlogTitle Image_Episode8

In this episode I interviewed Irina Anastasiu, who describes herself as a perpetual chameleon. She has a wide and varied background, which is perfect for the Smart City space, and a genuine interest in citizen co-creation, so much so that she has created a framework to nurture this collaborative approach. This approach helps people see people as people and not just the organisations that they work for. Irina believes Smart Cities should include an integration of the small-scale projects with the larger ones, and build a shared vision that involves everyone. She has interesting views about how Australia’s societal norms are refreshing and could help shape Australia’s leadership in this space. As always, I hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as I enjoyed making it!

Disclaimer: Everything discussed in personal opinion only and does not represent the companies we work for or associated in any way with these companies.

Listen here

“This once progressive idea of human-centred design has gone mainstream to the point where everything becomes a customer-like relationship…The most important thing for me in this context is the genuine desire to give agency to people and the genuine belief that everyone can be seen as an asset, as someone that brings something to the table.”

“The common denominator between all of us is that we’re all citizens and we all somehow have a stake this place.”

“The debate around Smart Cities often obfuscates deep structural problems of the city, like housing precocity, job insecurity, social, class, economic and digital divides. It’s always or often times painted as the Smart City will bring prosperity and balance to everyone, and equity, but oftentimes the discussion remains superficial around how we can actually do this.”

“I think it’s important to keep track of that and rebalance something that came out of balance, where we focus on big and shiny objects, big interventions and working with big businesses, and rebalance that to bring in small-cali, networked, grass roots, citizen-led, and actually bring these two together.”

What we cover in this episode:
  • Irina’s background as software engineer and IT consultant in Germany and then her Masters work at QUT in Brisbane
  •  How Irina became interested in the flow of feedback between government and citizens, and the challenge of finding hard win-win solutions
  • Why looking at people as consumers is problematic and the power of seeing people as part of the solution
  • The role of technology in new business and governance models that can facilitate people contributing to the community
  • The framework Irina is facilitating to nurture a collaborative approach between stakeholders from as many sectors as possible
  • Why there needs to be a social relationship and trust established between collaborators first, before taking discussions into the digital realm
  • The problem with a superficial conversation around Smart Cities that doesn’t properly address social and political issues
  • How small-scale interventions that may not even be viewed as Smart are required to complement large scale projects
  • The frame of reference challenge that is a barrier to real integration across different disciplines
  • Why we should be focusing on and developing a shared Smart City vision and taking responsibility for what happens in the process, rather than on getting to economic outcomes as fast as possible
  • The advantage of flat social hierarchies and the tall poppy syndrome in Australia, and how we can make use of that to lead the citizen-led movement
  • How we can expand and grow the grassroots and collaborative approaches that are emerging
  • The importance of a sense of meaning in the lives of people in the Smart City

People and Projects Mentioned:

  • The Urban Informatics Lab at QUT, Brisbane
  • Nambour revitalisation and the Springfield flagship project
  • Mark Zuckerburg’s New Years Resolution
  • Participatory City Project, UK

Connect with Irina:

Connect with Irina via LinkedIn or Twitter @iriphon

Connect with Zoe:

Connect with me via email: zoe@thesmartcitypodcast.com

Connect via Twitter and Facebook: @smartcitypod

Podcast Production by Ellen Ronalds Keene

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