Tel Aviv, Israel

How did Tel Aviv engage in a participatory design process with its diverse inhabitants to implement a successful Smart City transformation program?

Tel Aviv successfully implemented a Smart City technology infrastructure program, “Digi-Tel”, in 2011, which evolved into a personalized city mobile app with the same name, in 2013. This app reflects the values of its diverse communities, provides information and facilitates digital participation to help solve identified problems based on prioritized values such as equity, access and safety.

The Digi-Tel framework model was created following the principles of human-centred design and its platform provides access to services and information through a myriad of communication strategies. It is an online club for communities consisting of a mobile app, an iView geographical information system and an open data repository. The Digi-Tel program is activated by a unique Personal ID card that can be obtained once the citizen is 13 years old.

Each citizen acquires a unique identity card to access city services such as information on safety, municipal opportunities and retail savings. This unique ID card also allows citizens to participate and give feedback on city challenges. The city behaves like a true digital democracy and incentivizes online cultural participation. Digi-Tel currently has 206,000 subscribers, which is 60% of the population and has been expanded to have sub-clubs for parents of children under the age of three. In addition, free public Wi-Fi was installed throughout the city using 80 nodes for total coverage.

What did we learn from Tel Aviv?

  1. This city-making precedent is proof that even the most diverse communities can be comprehensively engaged and their values be captured and embedded in Smart City solutions.

  2. The principles of human-centred design can be leveraged to create a platform for meaningful public participation.

  3. By collaborating with private businesses and by partnering with new business start-ups, low cost implementations for digital solutions are possible.