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Open AccessArticle

Public Participation in Smart-City Governance: A Qualitative Content Analysis of Public Comments in Urban China

by Zhe Gao 1,2, Siqin Wang 3,* and Jiang Gu 1,2
1
Hubei Provincial Key Laboratory for Geographical Process Analysis & Simulation, Central China Normal University, Wuhan 430079, China
2
The College of Urban & Environmental Sciences, Central China Normal University, Wuhan 430079, China
3
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia 4067, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(20), 8605; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12208605
Received: 7 September 2020 / Revised: 5 October 2020 / Accepted: 15 October 2020 / Published: 17 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Human Geography and Social Sustainability)
Public participation is crucial in the process of urban governance in smart-city initiatives to enable urban planners and policy makers to take account of the real public needs. Our study aims to develop an analytical framework using citizen-centred qualitative data to analyse urban problems and identify the areas most needed for urban governance. Taking a Chinese megacity as the study area, we first utilise a web-crawling tool to retrieve public comments from an online comment board and employ the Baidu Application Programming Interfaces and a qualitative content analysis for data reclassification. We then analyse the urban problems reflected by negative comments in terms of their statistical and spatial distribution, and the associative factors to explain their formation. Our findings show that urban problems are predominantly related to construction and housing, and most frequently appear in industry-oriented areas and newly developed economic development zones on the urban fringe, where the reconciling of government-centred governance and private governance by real estate developers and property management companies is most needed. Areas with higher land prices and a higher proportion of aged population tend to have fewer urban problems, while various types of civil facilities affect the prevalence of urban problems differently. View Full-Text
Keywords: urban governance; public participation; public comments; web-crawling data; qualitative content analysis; urban China urban governance; public participation; public comments; web-crawling data; qualitative content analysis; urban China
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Gao, Z.; Wang, S.; Gu, J. Public Participation in Smart-City Governance: A Qualitative Content Analysis of Public Comments in Urban China. Sustainability 2020, 12, 8605.

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