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6 minutes read

What Does a Smart City Mean to Different Stakeholders

By Jose Gomez
A woman staring at her phone while looking very happy.
By Jose Gomez
6 minutes read

Smart Cities are a complex concept. From a technological point of view, different approaches can tell different stories. Depending on the technology you choose, a Smart City can be seen as a totally distinct thing. The same goes for different stakeholders. Depending on who you ask, a Smart City can be one thing or another. Everyone has their take, and this matters a lot. 

As many cities around the world are implementing life-changing smart services through IoT networks and devices to improve citizens’ lives, it is important to understand the possible different stakeholder perspectives. Doing so can help IT departments in Smart City projects create thoroughly thought out features with specific users in mind. Failing to do so may result in a lost opportunity for improvement, or even worse, produce unintended consequences that might end up having a negative impact on citizens’ lives and the city itself. 

Getting any project’s users (in this case stakeholders) right is very important to guarantee success. This allows project managers and their teams to develop functions tailored to different stakeholders’ real needs. That’s why in this post I discuss some of the most important stakeholders to consider when developing a Smart City project.

Same City, Different Perspectives

From an IoT perspective, a Smart City is an interconnected web of data collection devices. From a cloud computing point of view, it is a huge user with millions of processing requests. Lastly, from a UX perspective, it is an ever-changing environment full of challenges to overcome. Something similar happens when it comes to users, or in this case, a city’s stakeholders.

Asking a business person what their take on a Smart City is will surely differ from that of parents. Even though a business person can be a parent, the fact that they have different roles to assume just makes it clear that there is a need for flexibility. A user might need something in the morning, and a totally different thing at noon.

Consider the following example. Judy is a single mother with two children and a regular office job. For her, interacting with the city during early mornings, when she has to take her children to school, is very different to her needs at night. When the sun goes down, she might want to go out with her friends, changing her role and her needs drastically. Whilst in the first case she might want to use the city app to find the best way to avoid traffic in order to get her children to school, at night she might want to look for the best events in town. 

Let’s look at another example. Alex is a restaurant owner trying to reduce costs. He decides to reduce his energy consumption using the city’s smart energy policy. Through a smart meter, he is able to run his business in the way that best suits him. On other occasions, Alex needs to get a city hall permit that will allow him to sell food on certain public spaces. For this, he accesses the online public administrative office through the city’s app and easily gets the permit.

These are two different cases of common citizens and how they can represent different interests. A single person can play the role of various stakeholders depending on the role they have at a given moment. This is something that Smart City project managers should consider. 

Understanding a City’s Stakeholders

Smart Cities are highly dependent on IoT devices. These collect information throughout different sources strategically located in cities, allowing the data to be processed, whether through edge computing or by being sent to the cloud. This process helps make important decisions and automate key city processes. 

Data is key for any smart project, but it isn’t all there is. In the case of cities, like in many other projects, it is necessary to understand users. Some important questions need to be answered in order to guarantee this type of project’s success:

  • Who are the different stakeholders involved in this project?
  • How can this project impact them if done correctly? What if it fails?
  • What do the different stakeholders need? 
  • How can this project help them get what they need?
  • What relations exist between different stakeholders?
  • How can this project guarantee accessibility?

These are not the only questions to consider, but by focusing on them it is possible to help reduce the risks of misinterpreting the needs of your project’s stakeholders. 

5 Smart City Stakeholders

Although there are many different stakeholders in a city, these are some of the most important ones. Considering them helps teams grasp a better understanding of what a Smart City project needs. 


This is one of the basic units of society. It shouldn’t only come down to first degree relations like parents and children, as amplifying its reach can help understand complex social behaviors and gather important information. Understanding this stakeholder group is particularly important for children and older adults. 

Business Owners

Businesses are an important part of any city. Figuring out their needs and how to help them can help improve the local economy and citizen’s life. Cities with a thriving business ecosystem attract highly qualified human capital, which in turn helps create better businesses. 


Just as business owners are a key stakeholder group, so are employees. Helping them find efficient and easy ways to commute to work, solve their city-related problems, and find jobs that suit them are some of their needs. 

Young Adults

Cities are dynamic places where a lot goes on. Much of what happens in cities is due to the activities of young adults. By understanding what their needs are and how to make it easy for them to access cultural, public, and work events, a project can develop impactful features.

Power Users

This last stakeholder group refers to everyone involved in the decision-making process or operation of a Smart City. It usually includes public officials who have first-hand access to data and relevant information as well as technology and IoT app development companies that help operate the IT infrastructure. Reducing friction on their side helps create better products.

Stakeholder Data Privacy

If there is one thing that all stakeholders have in common, it is the need for data privacy. No matter what stakeholder group you are considering, data privacy is a must.

Developing a City-level project that puts this concern at its center is crucial for success. Finding the right development partner that can integrate smart IoT app development practices, state of the art devices and cloud computing, all while respecting privacy, can be a hard task.

At Koombea we help our clients build secure IoT systems that focus on user’s data privacy. We help them understand the stakeholders involved in their projects and develop products that are fit for users’ needs. Thanks to our Agile methodology we can develop products in a fast and cost-efficient way. Contact us and find out what we can do for you. 

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