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UN HABITAT launches the People-centered smart cities playbooks

UN-Habitat has launched a new series of playbooks within their flagship programme “People-centered smart cities”. Each playbook in the series provides local, regional and national governments with pragmatic guidance for how to develop smart city strategies that are more inclusive, sustainable, and aligned to the actual needs of residents. The playbooks include case studies, sample policies, and concrete steps cities can take today towards building a foundation for people-centered smart cities of the future

During Smart City Expo World Congress 2021, UN-Habitat presented the People-Centered Smart City framework and the first playbooks of the series: Assessing the Digital Divide: Understanding internet connectivity and digital literacy in cities, and Addressing the Digital Divide: Taking action towards digital inclusion. These two playbooks focus on the second pillar of the People-Centered Smart City programme, digital equity, and illustrate how to build equitable access to ICTs with a focus on internet connectivity, digital skills and digital devices. The former focuses on understanding what constitutes the digital divide, while the later establishes concrete steps to tackle the digital divide.

Assessing the digital divide

The playbook Assessing the Digital Divide: Understanding internet connectivity and digital literacy in cities provides tools to collect, analyse and report grassroots data about the digital divide in the form of a digital divide assessment (Step 1). Following the assessment, it offers readers a guide to identify their digital divide taxonomy (Step 2), or the unique conditions of their communities’ digital divide.

As the playbook defines it, the digital divide is the gap between those who have access to and use ICTs including internet connectivity, internet-enabled devices and digital literacy skills and those who do not. Access to these three elements is fundamental for communities to access education, workforce development and to grant equal participation and digital human rights. UN-Habitat places a specific emphasis on the idea that While the cost and affordability of ICT remains a big issue in many countries, a larger problem is the lack of knowledge and understanding of information technology itself. Consequently, emerging digital inclusion policy focuses more on improving digital skills, better internet usage opportunities and building awareness of positive attitudes of the internet.

Addressing the digital divide

The playbook Addressing the Digital Divide: Taking action towards digital inclusion builds on the understanding of the digital divide offered by the former and establishes four steps to turn data into action:

1. Co-creating a digital inclusion plan: How to develop and execute an evidence-based, community driven approach to developing a comprehensive digital inclusion plan. 

2. Choosing a framework for taking action: An overview of the various types of models for taking action including government owned and operated Networks, public private partnerships and facilitating community networks. 

3. Choosing a finance model: An overview of types of finance strategies that can be leveraged to achieve your goals. 

4. Executing your plan: Examples of best practices around the world of successful strategies targeting each type of digital divide taxonomy.


Download the playbooks in UN Habitat's website


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