When we think about smart cities many things come to mind maybe something like automated business establishments or self driving cars.  Although these could be something a smart city would have probably sooner than we think, that’s not exactly what a smart city is or does. (There are many different working parts to a smart city but for the sake of this blog we’ll just focus on Digital Social Innovation (DSI) and augmenting public services.) Think more data driven and mix that in with the normal social issues that most major cities typically have like poverty or homelessness.  When we use smart technology to solve social issues it’s called Digital Social Innovation (DSI).  With the use of artificial intelligence, smart phones, apps, Big Data, the internet, etc. we can make our cities more efficient and innovative.

Digital Social Innovation or DSI is characterized by creating projects and measuring the outcome by its social or environmental impact rather than its Return on Investment (ROI). DSI can be used in facilitating civic engagement platforms, neighborhood information systems, and crowdfunding platforms. Using technology for civic engagement can allow community members more of a chance to have a voice. It can give local government a better understanding on how to govern the community it serves or making it more citizen-centric. DSI can also be used to tackle homelessness in a more data driven way. An organization can look at the data about a city’s homeless population and foreclosed or abandoned buildings. They can then utilize crowdfunding campaigns to launch homeless shelters for the homeless people in a particular area or create homes for people who are getting back on their feet.

Many believe that new technologies will take over the public sector and essentially wipe out public service positions. Although a handful of jobs may become totally outsourced, many more public services can benefit from smart technology optimizations. Smart technology can allow jobs in the public sector to function on peer-to-peer networks allowing customers to connect with services or businesses that are more tailored to their needs. Utilizing peer-to-peer networks can also expand the capacity of many organizations including non-profits. A homeless shelter, for example, may communicate more efficiently and effectively with other organizations to establish live feedback on how many beds are available. Another major benefit of these networks would be educational institutions. School administrators may use a similar approach with after school programs or tutors. Other public services, like delivery jobs can be optimized with smart technologies to establish faster and more direct deliveries. There are many possibilities and innovations that can only make our communities, jobs, and cities more efficient and sustainable.