A Co-creation Methodology For Smart Cities: Insights From Multiple Case Studies

Francesca Spagnoli, Shenja van der Graaf, Jonas Breuer

Research output: Unpublished contribution to conferenceUnpublished paper


Today, as city governments struggle to meet the demands for improvement in public service delivery and the quality of urban life - while facing ever-diminishing resources – an examination is warranted of how we understand current dynamics between smart city (governance) and citizens in public service delivery. This paper seeks to yield insight into how products and services can be co-created between city and citizens, to benefit both the city and everyday urban life.
The concept of co-creation - associated with a participatory turn in digital development practices reflected in the claimed democratization of digital technologies - may, arguably, offer a solution towards delivering sustainable long-term benefits for public service providers and users. It highlights what has been termed the smart city’ as an opportunity for promoting citizen participation and bottom-up innovation approaches. This is also reflected in the concept of ‘Smart Citizenship’ as defined in the literature, where citizens are co-creators of urban design and technology. The underlying, fundamental shift in relationships between public administrations, citizens and stakeholders is, however, easier said than done. Value co-creation has been applied in marketing as a way to strengthen the relationship between company and customers. Also in the public sector, particularly within the Smart City one, the relevance of value co-creation has become increasingly clear in theory and practice. Less clear is how cities can collaborate with citizens in co-creating services and products. Even public administrations that are keen to apply this approach often struggle in identifying the best way to approach it in a sustainable fashion. This is due to changes in practices that are required to integrate the complex co-creation process in organizational design, as well as diffuse understandings of co-creation as a means.
This paper realizes and addresses the evident need for a systematic framework that supports Smart Cities and their administrations in understanding how to develop and implement co-creation to ultimately become more participatory. It aims to support cities in applying a clear- cut user-driven approach to co-creation. This paper is therefore designed to enhance our understanding and offer a systematic approach by deploying the results of several case studies, for which a co-creation methodology for Smart Cities has been defined and tried. By drawing upon European projects the reasoning behind the methodology and its implementation can be illustrated. The methodology rests on three pillars; first, it guides the reader through the overall co-creation process including problem analysis via stakeholder identification to evaluation; second, it helps to identify specific and appropriate means to achieve the set objectives, i.e. co- creation methods and tools to implement; third, it provides guidelines to put them into action. In addition to the presentation of the methodology, the paper discusses feedback from users, how the guidance and structure it provides helps to co-create services and products, to demonstrate the value and feasibility of co-creation, and to promote and strengthen the participatory Smart City.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 6 Oct 2017


  • Smart Cities
  • Co-Creation
  • Participatory Design
  • Methodology
  • Public Administration

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