Rethinking Smart Cities: ICT for New-type Urbanization and Public Participation at the City and Community Level in China

22 Dec 2015

As a collaborative work of UNDP China and Intel, the “Rethinking Smart Cities: ICT for New-type Urbanization and Public Participation at the City and Community Level in China” report aims to take a closer look at one of the bottom-up elements of Chinese smart cities – the ways in which city governments use technology for citizen engagement and public participation.


In particular, this report seeks to address the following research questions:


1. What are the current policies, strategies, and pilot projects on smart cities development in China, especially for utilizing ICT to promote citizen engagement and new-type urbanization?

2. How do ICT initiatives at the city and community level generate positive social impacts and improve urban governance?

3. What are the policy instruments and recommendations which make smart city development more inclusive and participatory?


This paper is structured into three parts: I) Background and Policy Overview; II) Case Studies; and III) Analysis and Policy Recommendations.


Part I lays out the overall background and relevant policy documents for Chinese smart city development including how they are related to public participation. This includes the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD) smart city pilot projects , the National New-type Urbanization Plan (2014-2020) of the State Council, as well as a brief history on public participation in China.


Part II consolidates and analyses findings of studies conducted by the UNDP China research team regarding city and community ICT initiatives that promote citizen engagement and new-type urbanization. Ten cases studies were conducted of ICT for public participation initiatives operated by municipal, district and sub-district governments across China. The case studies are grouped into four types based on the initiatives’ objectives:


1. Feedback mechanisms for increasing citizen engagement and government accountability

2. Measures to improve the quality and responsiveness of public service delivery

3. Information access initiatives to enhance market, personal and civic opportunities

4. Platforms for community- and neighbourhood-building


Finally, the report concludes with Part III which provides analysis and policy recommendations to assist the Chinese government in effort to promote public participation and citizen engagement through smart technology initiatives, and suggests further areas for research.


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