The Internet of Things has the potential to give all of us a much more concrete say in how our cities are built and run, as well as a wealth of new ways to interact with our surroundings.

Connected devices can help raise the clock speed of the interaction between cities and citizens - elections every two to six years are not sufficient in today’s fast moving world. Cities are in a position to offer people, NGOs and companies the means to create applications and services that empower people and offer them new and more participatory ways to interact with their urban environment.

What can cities do to facilitate a more open, participatory and broadly democratic relationship with their citizens and other stakeholders, such as NGOs and companies? First and foremost it’s a question of culture. A more transparent and open approach to cooperation and engagement by citizens is vital.

Secondly, it’s a tech issue and the answer is: API + Infrastructure + networks.

The API, or Application Programming Interface, is the key here. It’s a door that offers the means to develop new products and user interaction.

APIs allow the city to offer citizens and organizations access to data resources; a part of its urban operating system, so to speak. APIs have the potential to create whole new innovation ecosystems that spur political and commercial engagement between the city and the people and companies that call it home.

To achieve a more open and participatory ecosystem, governments, politicians and lawmakers, as well as infrastructure and service providers need to collaborate. Using their potential to improve people’s quality of life and give them instruments to amplify their voice. This presents challenges to business models, the way in which we collaborate and the way cities are set up.

But together we will find ways for them to cooperate and together we’ll co-create the solutions. There are no recipes or formulas. We’re all new here.