Last week, I was in Buenos Aires presenting at the SCE Smart City conference. It was a great pleasure to be there and I was amazed by the innovation power Buenos Aires is showing, specifically by the government’s awareness and willingness to improve things for all layers of society.

My talk was about the importance of improving the citizen experience from the outside-in: only by truly understanding citizen needs and making them part of the design process (i.e. co-creation and participatory design), you will really make in an impact in the general city’s quality life, sustainability and economic growth.

Moving towards an outside-in approach. Copyright: Deloitte, 2017

For this to happen, design thinking is a great tool. Governments increasingly adopt design thinking to improve the quality of life, such as the UK government, which released an excellent design platform/knowledge center for contributors to adopt – a true example for other governments! Estonia has also proven how a disruptive technology (blockchain in this case) can help to improve government and citizen security by use of their KSI Blockchain initiative, making it government ID easier, faster and more secure.

Some say we live in a perfect storm of technology innovation, and those people might be right. However, because of that it becomes very attractive to push new (tech driven) solutions onto people, without really considering their added value for citizens. That’s why initiatives like ‘BA Elige’ (translated as: Buenos Aires chooses) are very needed: it offers a digital platform to empower citizens to share their thoughts, opinions, needs and vote for city improvements. As such, technology is an enabler for people to be part of city improvements.

Don’t get me wrong: I love that we live in times where technology grows exponentially and really allows us to do things never possible before. I just want to make clear that we should approach new solutions by starting and ending at the citizen, not by starting at what we can technologically achieve and then ‘hoping’ it will be see an uptake in usage. Basically shooting with hail.