Using Co-Creation to Deliver Equity in Smart City Projects

While traditional infrastructure projects have sometimes amplified equity issues in communities, smart cities and intelligent transportation systems (ITS) have frequently sought to improve the traveler experience and connect neighborhoods, jobs, services, health care and entertainment. Recent smart city and ITS projects are now specifically measuring the community impact in terms of opportunity and equity, as Smart Columbus demonstrated as they completed their program in May 2021. Realizing these impacts begins way before the project, with community engagement and involvement to achieve co-creation and community ownership, interest and adoption of emerging technologies once the project is complete. Both technology and traditional infrastructure projects are now leveraging the co-creation approach as it is directly linked to equity outcomes. This paper summarizes the deployment approach used by the Smart Columbus Program Management Office (PMO), specifically discussing the communications strategy, audiences and toolkit that were developed and applied across eight projects, which ranged from a community wide operating system to human services applications for trip planning, parking, and mobility to emerging technologies including connected and automated vehicles. The paper provides details on the different skills and tools that were used across the program and why, and a comparison of when they were applied and their performance in terms of the impact on user needs, project adoption and results. Opportunity outcomes and results are also discussed at the program level.