Trust in Sustainable Cities
Distrust has been growing in urban
communities in recent decades. Cities
such as Chicago and Cali are recovering
from past crimes and breakdowns
in citizen-government relations. In
places like Toronto and Barcelona,
privacy concerns have grown due to the
prominence of urban data and the rise of
corporations that collect such data.
Connections between neighbours are the
ties that bind society in times of crisis, but
how are such bonds formed and nurtured?
This issue of Urban Solutions explores
the importance of trust in interactions
between citizens and governments, and
how urban communities can develop trust
at multiple levels.
Behavioural scientist Professor David
Chan tells us that public trust plays
a critical role in any city because it
is difficult to attract investors, pass
legislation or manage crises in an
environment where trust is low. Diplomat
and international law expert Professor
Tommy Koh explains how good
governance, rule of law and a low level
of corruption make a city trustworthy.
When trust is low, rebuilding it is
key to urban regeneration, as several
cities demonstrate. Medellín Mayor
Federico Gutiérrez recounts how his city
overcame a troubled past by bringing
together stakeholders in a collaborative,
long-term transformation process. In
Surabaya, people-centric efforts to reduce
corruption and boost liveability have
transformed it into a thriving metropolis.
Singapore Minister Desmond Lee shares
how city leaders can involve people and
private institutions to strengthen social
capital and trust. When community
engagement is done right and trust is present, says Louisa-May Khoo, conflict
between civil society and government can
be a creative opportunity.
Technological advancements and the
growth of public urban data are already
improving citizens’ lives. But there are
also privacy concerns: who should collect
and manage such data, and how should it
be used? Daniel L. Doctoroff of Sidewalk
Labs argues that competing concerns
can be reconciled by establishing clear
governing principles. Meanwhile, the
iChangeMyCity mobile app in Bangalore
improves municipal service delivery and
trust by enabling civic participation.
What does a city that bridges social
and cultural differences look like? How
do safe and inclusive public spaces
strengthen community spirit and build
a sense of ownership?
The Japanese concept of group reliance
creates strong social responsibility, while
cultural diversity is literally built into the
streets of San Francisco’s Castro District.
In Singapore, public housing designs
enhance ties between neighbours,
and neighbourhood networks drive
Our main takeaway? Trust is fundamental
to partnership, which is crucial for liveable
and sustainable cities. We hope this issue
inspires you to strengthen trust in your
city. I wish you all an enjoyable read.
Khoo Teng Chye
Centre for Liveable Cities