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Without increased civic participation future places will not prosper, academics warn

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A greater level of civic participation must be required in the development of cities if they are to prosper successfully in the future, academics have warned.

Following a three-year research project into various smart city and eco-city initiatives in China and across Europe, a research team led by the University of Exeter has called for more citizen awareness and participation in the development of cities.

“At the moment there is very little involvement from citizens in the development of smart cities,” said Dr Federico Caprotti, from the University of Exeter. “There are huge potential benefits in almost every aspect of the way towns and cities work, but we must also consider what all this data collection and surveillance means for citizenship.”

One of the key points coming from the research, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, an arms-length government research body, is a concept referred to as ‘platform urbanism’, which can be seen as a “change, or evolution, in capitalism”.

According to the research, the recent rise in the use of smart platforms and devices has increased the role of tech companies as “key economic and industrial players”.

“Much of this change is happening at a very local level, and if people don’t help shape the process we will end up with a top-down approach,” Dr Caprotti said.

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