Personas, the Pandemic, and Inclusive, Synthetic, Smart City Planning

Personas, the Pandemic, and Inclusive, Synthetic, Smart City Planning

Sarah Farmer, John C. Bricout, Paul M. A. Baker, Jeremy Solomon
Copyright: © 2022 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/IJEPR.299545
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In the era of COVID-19 planners, and more broadly, city administrators and policy makers, have learned to cope with the accelerated pace of change, the broad band of uncertainty, and the need for rapid decision-making strategies. This, in the context of ever more diverse communities and greater reliance on technology as an effective response to the social and public health challenges of the pandemic. “Smart” cities harness distributed communication and service delivery technologies to enhance the quality of urban life. The voices of citizens from marginalized and under-served populations, such as older adults and people with disabilities, are vital to the development of inclusive smart cities. In this paper expanding an inclusive policy design approach is proposed that uses ‘personas’ to actively engage those citizens.
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1. Introduction

The COVID-19 pandemic is at once a global social, governance and economic crisis (Levy, 2021; Maffettone & Oldani, 2020), and a prolonged lesson in the importance of systemic responses that engage citizen stakeholders (Dominguez, et al., 2020; Engelbrecht, et al., 2021). Several challenges have become clear for planners and policymakers: the accelerated pace of change, the broad band of uncertainty, and the need for rapid decision-making strategies (Costa & Peixoto, 2020; LoGiudice, et al., 2020). It has also become clear that crucial stakeholder involvement in coping with these changes involves more diverse communities (Brouselle, et al., 2019; Shin, et al., 2021). Smart cities, undergirded by information and communication technologies ICT) and other ambient technologies such as mobile devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) have the potential to yield sustained benefits to the aspirations, service and resource needs of all citizens, provided that they are able to participate in the policy design process (Ju, et al., 2018; Wanderley & Bonacin, 2019). If anything, COVID-19 has underscored the importance of smart cities as a response to many of the challenges brought by the pandemic (Jaiswal, et al., 2020; Webb & Toh, 2020). Innovative smart city strategies and policy approaches benefit from the civic participation of all citizens (Bricout, et al., 2021), including older adults and people with disabilities (Zanwar, et al., 2021) with the stakeholders on the ground best suited to engage with vexing urban problems in a balanced, value-based fashion (Cairns & Wright, 2020; Mehdi, 2020). For older adults and people with disabilities specifically, COVID-19 has led to sudden and stark social isolation due to health and safety concerns (Castillo, et al., 2021; Zasadzka, et al., 2021). COVID-19 has had a disproportionately negative effect on the health of people with disabilities and older adults compared to the general population, with both groups being at greater risk for health problems. Underlying social disparities and social isolation have further exacerbated the direct and indirect ill effects of the pandemic (Kimura, et al., 2020; Totsika, et al., 2021).

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