Accepted Paper:

Smart Technologies, Smart Governance and Smart Cities: The Role of Community Involvement in Local Governance  


Ravi Shukla (Netvision Corporation)

Paper short abstract:

This paper suggests that use of "smart" technologies in itself may not result in smart or effective governance. Involving local communities in the conceptualization and design of these systems opens up the possibility of having more effective systems of governance.

Paper long abstract:

The engineers and designers of smart governance systems tend to have a limited understanding of the social problem underlying the technical solution, just as those who understand social dynamics, lack the technical skills to implement them.

In a pilot study conducted with the marginalized, economically weaker, communities around the Jamia University in Delhi, the engineers responsible for developing the technical system were engaged in a ethnographic study to a) understand the needs and priorities of the communities in the area; b) to understand the role of mobile and internet technologies in people's day-to-day lives.

Since community engagement activities were entwined with technical specifications, the first step was not limited to gathering requirements for some specific focus of governance, but led to the identification of the garbage collection as the issue to be addressed.

This was followed by the development and deployment of software that involved SMS based communication between mobile devices and a website providing information on the issue (

Closer interaction with the communities helped technical team to understand how mobile and internet technologies were used and interpreted by the economically weaker, marginalized communities around the university. The sharing of the same mobile device within and between families and the extensive use of the mobile device as a video camera, for instance, led to architecture and process changes that may not have emerged solely from the imagination of the technical team. These could then be made an integral part of the system.

Panel T010
Stakeholder engagement in smart city (re-)development