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Putting People First

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October 2012
2 October 2012

Smart cities in Italy and France

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The European House-Ambrosetti, an Italian economic think tank/management consultancy and organisers of the very prestigious annual international economic conference in the Italian town of Cernobbio, has – in partnership with ABB Italy – published a report on Smart Cities in Italy.

Entitled “Smart Cities in Italy: an opportunity in the spirit of the Renaissance for a new quality of life“, the report includes 7 proposals aimed at optimizing conditions for Italian cities to become “smarter” in the years to come.

Although the report underlines the importance of real benefits for citizens, it suffers from a top-down approach to how smart cities should be planned for and implemented.

(Since the executive summary publication download has the English pages upside down and in reverse order, I made these small corrections and posted the English summary pdf here. All Italian language materials are available on this page.)

This top down approach stands in stark contrast to the position argued for a few days ago in the Wall Street Journal (see earlier post) and to the position argued for in Can the Internet set the world on fire? A political territory lying fallow (French title: Internet peut-il casser des briques ? Un territoire politique en jachère), edited by Philippe Aigrain and Daniel Kaplan, and with contributions by Philippe Lemoine, Philippe Aigrain, Marjorie Carré, Mélanie Dulong de Rosnay, Jean-Louis Frechin, Vincent Guimas and Ewen Chardronnet, Daniel Kaplan, Sophie Le Pallec, Valérie Peugeot, and Benoît Thieulin.

“The Internet, a matrix for creating utopia? This is certainly the premise on which this book is based. The Internet is both the height of capitalism and the factor for crystallising new popular movements. This duality, which is intrinsic to the Internet ecosystem, should be taken as a signal of positive transformation: new modernity is based precisely on the fact of learning to disassociate and put back together differently that which comes from the market and that which comes from the emancipation of people.

Through utopias that exemplify the impact of new technologies on our lives, that illustrate the new organisation models of a knowledge and innovation economy, or that reformulate the social and political pact, Internet energy indicates the direction of its transforming potential.”

On InternetActu you can read Ta ville, trop smart pour toi, Daniel Kaplan’s contribution to the book (in French).

1 October 2012

‘Smart City’ planning needs the right balance (WSJ)

 

In the pantheon of Next Big Thing trends, the concept of “smart cities” is one of the trendiest, writes Ben Rooney in the Wall Street Journal.

The idea is that by harvesting the incredible amount of data “exhaust” that every one of us generates as we traverse a city, planners can optimize services in the city to make them more efficient, cleaner and cheaper. But there is a fear that such top-down programs may threaten the very vitality that attracts people to cities in the first place.

A very different kind of smart-city initiative has had success in cities as diverse culturally and geographically as San Francisco and Singapore, and is coming to Europe. Called Urban Prototyping, the movement approaches cities from a bottom-up—not top-down—viewpoint.

Read article

1 October 2012

How to design mental models that create a superior user experience

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Leanne Byrom, a freelance UX practitioner and UX lead for Phosphor Digital, writes about the importance of mental models in UX design:

Designing something right requires that you completely understand what a person wants to get done. You need to understand how a person uses something if you’re going to get the design right for them. You also need to know the person’s goals and the procedures she/he follows to accomplish those goals.

Mental models give you a deep understanding of people’s motivations and thought processes along with the emotional and philosophical landscape in which they are operating.

Read article

1 October 2012

Mass persuasion, one user at a time

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Nir Eyal writes how marketers are increasingly personalizing their products and services to meet their customers’ changing needs, and how customization used in conjunction with powerful persuasion techniques provides new weaponry to boost customer engagement and drive profits.

“Mass customization, of the kind used by Amazon to predict which products to offer based on past behaviors, is increasingly supplemented with “personalized persuasion,” whereby the psychological technique used to appeal to the customers is tailored to increase the intended action. Companies not only customize their experiences to give customers what they want, but they also keep tabs on users to present their messages exactly how the user wants it.”

Read article

Nir Eyal blogs about the intersection of psychology, technology, and business at NirAndFar.com. He is the author of the forthcoming book “Hooked: How to Drive Engagement by Creating User Habits.”