The first section of this paper mainly introduced and discussed different approaches towards smart mobility. A distinction has been made between a technology-centric approach and a citizen-centric approach, by which the most evident differences can be found in the role of technology and the hierarchical relation with other domains. From a technology-centric approach, development is seen as increased efficiency by making widespread use of ICTs. These innovative technologies often are a goal in itself, while it could be wise to consider the broader possible impact. When looking from a citizen-centric approach, the wider impact is put in the first place. Innovative technologies are regarded as the means, that have a broader objective which can generally be formulated as “improving overall urban performances and the quality of life of its citizens”. It is self-evident that, in an approach where citizen needs are precedence, more collaborative processes and bottom-up initiatives take place in the shaping of smart cities.

The second section addressed the possible relationships between the concept smart and sustainable mobility. Following the citizen-centric approach, that highly values quality of life in cities, it is preferable that the sustainable domain prevails over the smart domain. To make it more tangible, technology should play a submissive role in favour of sustainability objectives. The Venn diagram, presented by Lyons, that illustrates this situation the best, is diagram D (figure 1).

The third section illustrated the practice of two smart mobility initiatives in The Netherlands. The first, Smart Solar Charging in Utrecht, is an example of a citizen initiative in which the local government plays an active, but more facilitating and supportive, role. The municipality functions so to say as a participating government. The initiative clearly has sustainability ambitions up front and uses the possibilities of new technologies to achieve a reduction of pollution and a better quality of life. In the other case, Strijp-S in Eindhoven, the municipality acts as a networking government. She defined the objectives for developments and mobility in the area together with a developing company in a PPP. The liveability of the area is an important aspect here, but also facilitating technological development and innovation was a primary objective. It is difficult to say whether sustainability ambitions prevail over technological interests. But in the end, a number of smart innovations certainly contributed to a better quality of life and less pollution in the area.

To conclude, the analysis of the two examples has resulted in some more insight in the role and functioning of local governments in the smart mobility discourse. The time that a government defines what is in favour of the public good and makes policy for this has certainly passed. In the current energetic society, citizens more actively shape the public value themselves and also take action to satisfy these values and goods. Especially a role for local governments has been laid down here to react to and facilitate all kind of bottom-up initiatives. In the discourse around smart mobility, more attention should be paid to the shift towards this new governance structure. If the needs of citizens are put in the first place when implementing new innovative measures, a large step can be made towards smart mobility that truly contributes to a cleaner environment and a better quality of life.


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Consultant Smart Mobility