Prevailing Approaches and Practices of Citizen Participation in Smart City Projects: Lessons from Trondheim, Norway
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Citizen participation has become an important aspect in the design of smart cities. This paper investigates the frame and modality of citizen participation in a European Horizon2020 smart city project, +CityxChange, in Trondheim. +CityxChange aims at enabling citizen participation and co-creation in the transition to a positive energy city. The question is “what are the prevailing approaches and practices in relation to citizen participation amongst the key actors involved in +CityxChange? Which structures and processes have inhibited or fostered the participation mechanisms (e.g., for, by, and of people) and practices in Trondheim?” Through participatory observations and interviews with key local actors and citizens, we found that the focus of +CityxChange on efficiency and creating innovative solutions “for” people in partnership with the private sector has disturbed the “by” and “of” people mechanisms of participation. Citizens’ power and roles are not delegated to challenge or replace the project’s predetermined issue or plan. The anchorage of the project outside of the formal administrative structure has caused other functional barriers that inhibit citizen participation, rather than facilitate it. This paper discusses the causal relationships between these interconnected barriers and suggests how authorities can possibly overcome them.