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The smart transportation system (STS) leverages ubiquitous and networked computing to improve the efficiency of urban mobility. Whilst existing IS work has explored various factors influencing STS development, there is a lack of consideration of how value can be created for building a more sustainable STS. Drawing upon the value co-creation theory and stakeholder theory, we seek to understand the socio-technical shaping of the STS ecosystem and how government, firms and citizens collaboratively create sustainable value for designing and implementing STS initiatives. To reach this aim, we carry out a longitudinal case study over 2016–2018 in Shijiazhuang, China. We offer both theoretical and practical explanations on (i) key value facets with regard to sustainable STS design and implementation; and (ii) a holistic view of iterative value co-creation process pushed by key stakeholders. This study makes particular contributions to the IS, marketing and transportation literature by offering a critical understanding of the social dynamics for shaping a big data-driven STS ecosystem.
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Shaping a Smart Transportation System for Sustainable
Value Co-Creation
Jun Zhang
&Shuyang Li
&Yichuan Wang
Accepted: 26 April 2021 / Published online: 14 May 2021
The smart transportation system (STS) leverages ubiquitous and networked computing to improve the efficiency of urban
mobility. Whilst existing IS work has explored various factors influencing STS development, there is a lack of consideration
of how value can be created for building a more sustainable STS. Drawing upon the value co-creation theory and stakeholder
theory, we seek to understand the socio-technical shaping of the STS ecosystem and how government, firms and citizens
collaboratively create sustainable value for designing and implementing STS initiatives. To reach this aim, we carry out a
longitudinal case study over 20162018 in Shijiazhuang, China. We offer both theoretical and practical explanations on (i)
key value facets with regard to sustainable STS design and implementation; and (ii) a holistic view of iterative value co-creation
process pushed by key stakeholders. This study makes particular contributions to the IS, marketing and transportation literature
by offering a critical understanding of the social dynamics for shaping a big data-driven STS ecosystem.
Keywords Value co-creation .Smart transportation system .Data governance .Citizen participation .Sustainability
1 Introduction
As the United Nations (UN) predicts that 68% of the global
population will live in cities by 2050 (United Nations (UN),
2018), together with an additional 2.9 billion vehicles using
road networks (Djahel et al., 2018), cities are confronting un-
precedented challenges to their long-term sustainable devel-
opment. One of the challenges to transportation planners and
policymakers is to sustain a transportation system that over-
comes increasing demands for existing and future traffic
whilst mitigates harmful carbon emissions from transportation
sources for environmental sustainability purposes (Ismagilova
et al., 2019). A citywide transportation system has to be built
in a way that citizens can access the city using smart and eco-
friendly transportation services, and by which public authori-
ties and governments can achieve their sustainable develop-
ment goals (Yan et al., 2018).
To address this challenge, researchers across many fields
have endeavoured to explore the development of smart
transportation systems (STS) (Boukerche & Coutinho, 2019;
Cheng et al., 2020; Yan et al., 2018). The STS is defined as a
comprehensive transportation system that leverages informa-
tion and communication technologies (ICT) to realise ultra-
efficient interactions between humans and vehicles, vehicles
and vehicles, and humans and information, meanwhile en-
abling secure and sustainable urban transportation ecosystem
(Boukerche & Coutinho, 2019; Yan et al., 2018). As a consti-
tutive system of the smart city (Chourabi et al., 2012), the STS
is inherently built up upon ubiquitous and pervasive comput-
ing through big data and business analytics tools (Kitchin,
2019), contributing to datafied urban transportation systems
and re-defined business relationships between diverse stake-
holders (Luque-Ayala & Marvin, 2020). Consequently, big
data and business analytics have raised growing attention by
scholars from management and information system (IS) fields
to research organisational-level performance, such as
decision-making (Duan et al., 2019), strategic competition
(Manyika, 2011), and big data-driven business ecosystems
and value chain (Pappas et al., 2018). The outcome of these
practices aligns with the goal of high resilience of digital
transformation for shaping the twenty-first Century sustain-
able society (Pappas et al., 2019). For the STS, this means a
healthy, green and more human-centric mode of transforma-
tion. The STS in the city can thus help local citizens more
efficiently and effectively engage with big data-integrated
*Shuyang Li
The Business School, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, UK
Management School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
Information Systems Frontiers (2023) 25:365380
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transportation systems (Akande et al., 2019; Cheng et al.,
Whilst the STS develops as a socio-technical initiative, it is
also considered a political and economic by-product in many
countries, hence requiring encompassing consideration of
governance and management. In management and IS re-
search, recent studies demonstrate intensive efforts in devel-
oping regulatory frameworks for control management and
standardisation (Vitunskaite et al., 2019), conceptualising the
ways in which data are used for different purposes such as
open data governance (Pereira et al., 2017) and privacy and
security mechanisms of data handling (Ismagilova et al.,
2020), and system and service integration (Schulz et al.,
2020). Studies with a greater socio-technical emphasis have
explored the variegated dynamics of governing smart mobility
(Lin et al., 2017) and sustainable transitions (Becker et al.,
However, building the STS is a challenging task and re-
quires a holistic and ecosystem view that involves multi-scalar
participation to addressing the heterogenous nature of gover-
nance in a concerted effort. An ecosystem addresses not sim-
ply technological but also managerial issues, and different
stakeholders, such as government, industry and citizens, inter-
act within the design and implementation process of the sys-
tem (Kar et al., 2019). Backed up by this conceptual angle,
this study is focused upon the form of sustainable value
cocreation of the STS. Specifically, this study seeks to answer
the following research question: How can the government,
STS firms and citizens collaboratively create sustainable val-
ue in developing smart transportation systems?
To answer the above question, we draw upon the concepts
of value co-creation and stakeholder from marketing, IS and
transportation literature. In the marketing literature, ithas been
acknowledged that value can be generated in the co-creation,
co-design, and co-development processes wherein customers
shifttoplayanactiverole(Lacoste,2016; Vargo & Lusch,
2004). Recent literature regarding big data and business ana-
lytics ecosystems has placed emphasis on different facets of
value which can be co-created through the interactions among
users, technological resources, and business processes
(Mikalef et al., 2020; Sarker et al., 2012). For example, Li
and De Jong (2017) argue that a smart ecosystem would need
empowering citizens to participate in rudimentary design of
smart systems. To some extent, this would also require public
institutions and private firms to sharpen their serviceability
(De Jong et al., 2016). Further, government bodies advocate
technocratic initiatives and legitimise the use of technology
(Griffiths & Schiavone, 2016). In STS, value has its compre-
hensive form of presence, but it also faces problems with poor
data governance and lacks effective coordination of multiple
stakeholders (Silva et al., 2018). We investigate such chal-
lenges of value co-creation process by specifically focusing
on the transportation domain. By integrating the notion of
value co-creation in STS, we conduct a longitudinal case
study in the city of Shijiazhuang in China spanning three years
since 2016. We explore how the STS is designed and imple-
mented by local government and firms, and how citizens play
This study makes important contributions to the IS, trans-
portation and marketing literature. Firstly, this study builds up
the socio-technical discourse by untangling at great length
both the technical components of STS innovations and social
dynamism of STS governance. This socio-technical nexus
conjures up technology-driven and citizen-centric designs
and implementation. Secondly, we identify a set of key factors
that lead to successful STS design and implementation.
Thirdly, we contribute to the value co-creation and the stake-
holder theory rationales by unravelling how a big data-driven
STS ecosystem runs in the situation where different stake-
holders play a distinctive role and closely interact with each
other. Sustainable value facets emerge and are continuously
shaped by these interactive processes.
2 Smart Transportation System
Urban transportation is a source of energy consumption, a
cause of air pollution, a driver of urban economics and social
development; a myriad of measures have therefore been taken
to manage all types of transportation resources and balance its
opportunities and perils in order to achieve sustainability
(Sayyadi & Awasthi, 2017). Making sense of the smartla-
belling of technology-driven transportation systems has be-
come critical to smart city researchers today. For example,
Alter (2019) identifies a number of principles to define smart-
ness; two important ones are the socio-technical nature and
intensive involvement of users (i.e. citizen-qua-users in this
study) as participants. However, these two points do not differ
smartand intelligent. In the current literature, intelligent
transportation system (ITS) studies tend to focus on infrastruc-
tural design and connectivity (Ganin et al., 2019;Wangetal.,
2019), whereas STS research emphasises the interconnectivity
in service provision and the extent of data sharing practices
between human and associated transportation applications,
with substantial involvement of ubiquitous computing and
human-computer interactions (Kitchin, 2015). Such intercon-
nectivity and data sharing practices in STS are supported by
intensive use of networked computing and business models
such as big data analytics, sensing, task automation and
The development of STS initiatives in China over the past
decade has consolidated the idea of being interconnected,
shared and networked. For example, many municipal govern-
ments across the country tend to promote one-stop service
based on cross-departmental collaborations to many smart city
systems (Liu & Zheng, 2018). Meanwhile, a myriad of
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smartphone applications provide app-based ride-hailing ser-
vices (Tang et al., 2020;Wangetal.,2019) and customised
information (Di Pietro et al., 2015) and the like. Provided that
China is huge geographically and demographically, the objec-
tives of STS development shift towards zero distance change
(Geng, 2012), namely ultra-efficiency and super convenience.
Amongst many municipalities, the city of Shijiazhuang, as
the province of Hebei Province, is one of the statestranspor-
tation hubs in China. According to the government work re-
port of Hebei Transportation Bureau (,
the local government has made huge financial investment in
building networked STS services and initiating integrated
transportation resources as a top priority. In particular, the
Shijiazhuang municipal government has applied big data,
sensor technology and ubiquitous computing to manage the
transportation network since 2014. Compared to old-
fashioned telecommunication-based traffic management, the
current system leverages cloud platforms to gather data from
different places to facilitate decision-making.
STS consists of five sub-systems (Wu, 2017). Table 1presents
these sub-systems and their associated functionalities and key
instances. Each subsystem contains a variety of transport data
which are created and used for various purposes. Technically,
some key instances can be fallen into different sub-systems.
For example, data captured by inductive loops can be
converted into traffic information meanwhile used to traffic
safety conditions.
Whilst these sub-systems are considered technical config-
urations and, as a whole, shape a networked, interconnected,
and data-driven STS, a number of specific applications devel-
oped for the managerial and governing purpose. For example,
from the policy making perspective, the enactment of
Restriction of Vehicle Licence Plate
increases urban road
capacity and thus enhances the efficiency of the public trans-
portation system because free buses are available during this
restriction period. With regard to management, traffic control
rooms garner real-time traffic data collected by sensor net-
works for coordination and emergency control. From the per-
spective of data governance, the local STS firm, HEBITT,
who works in concert with Traffic Management Bureau, de-
velops the one-card system to cover all means of transporta-
Further, Alpark is focused on big data-enabled smart
parking, implementing high-definition cameras and facial rec-
ognition technologies, so many idle urban spaces are convert-
ed into public parking lots.
The design and implementation of
above sub-systems and applications rely heavily on
Available at
Table 1 Shijiazhuang STS
components and functionalities
(Wu, 2017)
STS Sub-systems STS Functionalities Key instances
Traffic Information
Video image traffic information
Real-time traffic information
Practice information
Traffic guidance
CCTV cameras
Detecting sensors
Inductive loops
GPS-embedded mobile devices
Inquiry Service
End-user and driver information
Motor vehicle information
Traffic accidents information
Government smartphone apps
Frontline office of Traffic Management
Traffic Safety
Emergency command
Infrastructure parameters
Incident detection
Ultrasonic sensors
Magnetometer sensors
Service Guide
Web-based graphics and text infor-
mation maintenance
Traffic signposts deployment
Social media posts
Smartphone apps
Urban traffic dashboards
Information centres
Service System
Vehicle information binding
Driving licence binding
System information reminding
Individual information maintenance
Traffic recommendation
Smartphone apps
Customised public means of transports (e.g.
customised buses)
Online car-hailing/sharing services
Phone appointment system
Smart car-parking service
The Restriction of Vehicle Licence Plate policy is released by Shijiazhuang
Municipal Government. Available at
HEBITT: a local STS firm in Shijiazhuang specialising in public transpor-
tation. Available at:
Retrieved from Alpark City: starts a new era of intelligent parking.
Available at:
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collaborations across many sites of data practice, including the
municipal government transportation department
(government hereafter), state-owned firms, public institutions,
local private firms, and citizens. For the case of Shijiazhuang,
we primarily focus on government, private firms and citizens
which are the most three dominant actors.
3 Theoretical Background
To investigate how value can be created and sustained among
various stakeholders in the STS, we draw upon two main
bodies of research on i) value co-creation and ii) stakeholder
theory, and relate them to the information system (IS) litera-
ture and transportation literature. The two theories provide a
theoretical lens in examining collaboration and arrangements
among STS participants including governmental bodies, com-
mercial companies, and citizens. The IS and transportation
literature contributes to understand how the STS can help to
facilitate and enable such collaboration.
3.1 Value Co-Creation in STS
Value co-creation theory describes collaboration between
multiple stakeholders and suggests that the value of a partic-
ular product is not generated merely by its producing firm, but
co-created by the firm together with its primary stakeholders
(Galvagno & Dalli, 2014). Co-creation occurs when two or
more groups of members actively interact with and affect each
other (Rahman et al., 2019). Most studies discuss value co-
creation in an organisational context such as business-to-
business (B2B) marketing (e.g. Breidbach & Maglio, 2016),
consumer and enterprise interaction (e.g. Smedlund, 2012),
and strategic alliances between social networking sites and
firms (e.g. See-To & Ho, 2014). One of important research
streams from these studies is ICT-based value (co-)creation
that has been extensively rationalised in the IS literature.
Whilst acknowledging financial, intermediate and affective
benefits of value co-creation through ICT (Cheng et al.,
2020; Huber et al., 2017), attentions are required in the
technology-related considerations in the application of value
co-creation theory (Sarker et al., 2012;Yuetal.,2019).
Besides, it is also important to assess intangible value that is
being generated throughout the development process and ap-
plication. As suggested by Sarker et al. (2012), in the context
of alliance relationship and joint partnership, value is multi-
faceted in nature in that it has different dimensions and ele-
ments viewed by stakeholders or participants.
For the STS, Schulz et al. (2020) identify a number of in-
hibitors of mobility value co-creation that are deemed crucial to
resource integration and service interchange by mobility
providers. Yin et al. (2019) analyse in depth how users partic-
ipate in co-creating value for the bike-sharing system in
Chinese cities, classify value into a set of customer and firm
resources, and examine the side effect of resource mis-
integration and non-integration. Such a comparing view of val-
ue co-creation and co-destruction in the transportation domain
is placed in a critical position of collaborative transportation
management (Okdinawati et al., 2017), a multi-agent model
of planning, execution and prediction. In a nutshell, STS value
co-creation is in some way built up upon a data integrated view
of governing on the one hand easy control and management
and on the other hand is aimed at making transportation infor-
mation more accessible and adjustable by the public, allowing
for commercial and business-led transformations.
From the socio-technical perspective, it is argued that STS
value co-creation should focus on the entire service system
instead of a particular business or organisation (Breidbach &
Maglio, 2016) and on the means of resource exchange be-
tween actors within a certain economic relationship, i.e. con-
nectivity in service systems (Breidbach et al., 2013). This
suggests that STS service systems constitute a variety of ac-
tions, business processes, human relations, and human percep-
tions that would need to be considered. The existing literature
lacks a comprehensive discussion about how these very as-
pects work in parallel in order to sustain value. We argue the
literature can be enriched by unpacking key value facets of the
development of STS initiatives with a particular focus placed
upon the entire STS ecosystem, a service system that incorpo-
rates different stakeholders into the design and implementa-
tion process.
3.2 Stakeholders in STS
Stakeholders are identified as a cluster of individuals or
groups who have interplay with actions connected to the value
creation and transactions (Freeman et al., 2010). Stakeholder
theory refers to the way in which organisations identify and
organise critical information that emerges from strategic
organisational planning (Freeman et al., 2010), with the aim
to make business policy and strategy more effective (Freeman
et al., 2020). Despite its development as a response to the
needs of profit-organisations, the nature of stakeholder theory
allows wider application to other settings as it describes and
analyses the context-specific behaviours of participants (Flak
& Dertz, 2005). In the co-creation of value with multiple
stakeholders involved, stakeholder theory assists in shaping
understanding of relationships between various stakeholders
and relevant organisations in order to achieve the shared
organisational goals (Jones et al., 2018).
There is a general consensus that in contexts beyond orga-
nisations and which involve broader public attendance, such
as in city and STS settings, there consists of a variety of stake-
holders with potentially diverging goals (Flak & Dertz, 2005).
In city transportation, to carry out efficient STS related strat-
egies and processes, the goals and objectives of different
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stakeholder groups should be attended to. Stakeholders in-
volved in this study include citizen as end-users, IT enterprises
as system developers, and government as policy makers.
Driven by the existing data-enabled STS and the fact that data
from different sub-system sites of practice are remained in
silos and hard to integrate, data sharing and exchange is thus
considered as the momentum for various stakeholders to in-
teract and collaborate for an integrated solution.
One of the popular conceptual framings of stakeholder the-
ory comes from the three distinctive aspects identified by
Donaldson and Preston (1995) who argue that stakeholder
theory in philosophical assumptions is depicted as being
descriptive,instrumental, and normative. The ways in which
these bases of the theory are drawn upon vary across studies.
This research examines the nature of the value co-creation
process from its beginning to the end with the goal of achiev-
ing sustainability. Hence, this study explores each of these
characteristics as frames of reference, which is considered as
a theoretical guidance for us to coherently combine all three
perspectives. Donaldson and Preston (1995) argue that the
stakeholder theory being descriptive is when it depicts the
nature, fundamental characteristics and behaviours, and stra-
tegic management of organisations. For an STS, value co-
creation by various beneficiaries and vested interests is con-
sidered as an assemblage of multi-stakeholder cooperative and
competitive interests in which intrinsic value is rooted
(Donaldson & Preston, 1995), hinting at the need to establish
alliances and channels through which data transfers across
various sites. Next, the stakeholder theory being instrumental
enables a closer examination of the co-creation process of
value that is built upon the descriptive base of the theory,
namely how the perceived value can actually be dug out
(Donaldson & Preston, 1995). For STS stakeholders, this im-
plies being critical to the key resources that reside in various
stakeholder sites and practicing effective stakeholder manage-
ment with the goal of maximising value, such as profitability,
competitiveness, data standardisation, and citizen participa-
tion. Furthermore, the normative tenet of the stakeholder the-
ory emphasises upon the balance between stakeholders and
their resources, indicating to seek for balance of all involved
stakeholdersinterests to achieve real sustainability (Jones &
Wicks, 1999). In the context of STS, this indicates the neces-
sity of balanced and sustainable value co-creation process in
which three different stakeholder groups reach the shared
goals of developing transportation solutions.
4 Research Methodology
4.1 Research Method and Setting
This research aims to identify the process of co-creating value
among different stakeholders through the design and
implementation of STS. Given its complex and qualitative
nature, we adopt a longitudinal case study methodology.
Case study facilitates in-depth exploration and perceptions
into the context and phenomenon (Ritchie et al., 2013)and
therefore enables the investigation of value co-creation
achievement within a specific STS setting. A case city having
adopted STS technologies between multiple stakeholders is an
ideal context, as it illustrates insights of interactions, co-
creation and dynamic flow of STS design, and its implemen-
tation in achieving sustainability between levels of citizens,
organisations and government.
Shijiazhuang (as mentioned in Section 2)ischosenasthe
case city. Three different units of stakeholders were selected -
citizens, organisations and the government - in order to under-
stand the data flow between these three levels of entities and
the co-creation of value by adopting new technologies across
these three groups. The first unit of citizens consists of both
car users and those who primarily use public transports. The
purpose of this is to gain different insights about their opin-
ions, thoughts and perceptions of interacting with STS and
their perceived ideas of building integrated STS. The second
unit includes three companies: Alpark, Mobike (Shijiazhuang
and Union & Creative.
The purpose of their busi-
ness is to design and apply STS applications to different
scenes of urban transportation, and to function these roles in
order to connect citizens and urban transportation administra-
tion. The last unit is two government transportation agencies -
Shijiazhuang Traffic Management Bureau and Hebei
Transportation Bureau - both of which have long-term coor-
dination with the three case companies in regard to data-
sharing practices and co-designing innovative solutions.
These two agencies have enacted many STS policies and cre-
ated project-led business opportunities for developing sustain-
able transportation initiatives, most of which are aimed at the
services for a particular scene of transportation and within
particular urban areas. For example, the bike-sharing service
of Mobike is only available to use within the second ring road
in Shijiazhuang. In addition, they have also promoted many
co-creating initiatives aiming for sustainability by engaging
grassroot citizens especially senior citizens who are
marginalised to smart urban transportation.
4.2 Longitudinal Data Collection
Following case study method, 30 interviews and 6 focus
groups (5 participants in each group) were conducted through-
out a longitudinal period of 3 years from 2016 to 2018.
Specifically, this includes 20 semi-structured interviews with
Mobike is a Chinese bike-sharing firm, providing bike-sharing services to
general citizens and location-based services to local government administra-
tion (
Union & Creative is a Shijiazhuang local STS transportation infrastructure
and sensor-enabled service provider (
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project managers, C-level executives and data scientists from
3 different technology companies; 10 semi-structured inter-
views with governmental bodies in the Transportation
Bureau and Traffic Management Bureau (the leading govern-
mental agencies for sustainable and smart city development);
6 focus groups (each group consisting of 5 participants) with
citizens from various backgrounds and who rely on STS tech-
nology in daily activities. Purposive sampling strategy was
used for the interviews and snowball-sampling method was
selected for the focus groups. Table 2illustrates the profile of
participants and the breakdown of timing for data collection.
Focus group interview with citizens consists of four sec-
tions including their general knowledge of smart transporta-
tion, insights of the pros and cons of existing STS applica-
tions, discussion of issues around data practice, and perceived
future STS development. For companies, interview questions
were elaborated with the objective of acquiring experience in
their STS design and implementation practice. Therefore, in-
terview with companies was structured into three sections in-
cluding: their past project accomplishments, data related is-
sues, and collaboration issues. Questions with the government
department were structured in four sections, including opin-
ions on urban transportation status, past project accomplish-
ments, government roles in STS, and relationships between
government and other stakeholders. The length of each inter-
view varied between 45 min and 1.5 h. All interviews were
recorded through a digital recorder and then transcribed into
text and saved in a Microsoft Word document. 751 pages of
transcripts were obtained from the interviews. Interviews with
the governmental bodies were particularly relevant for this
research as they acted the role of coordinator in extending
STS technologies and in the promotion of value co-creation
within the city context. Interviews with different companies
also form important aspects especially the combination of col-
laboration and tension between corporations and government
in facilitating STS. Citizens provide insights towards end-user
experience and participation in the dynamic value co-creation
Secondary data based on 12 governmental documents and
approximately 300 pages were also collected as supplements
of the primary data. These include: New-Type Urbanisation
Policy, the 13th Five-Year Plan, and multiple government
work reports from 2014 (the time from which STS and sus-
tainable smart city concepts were adopted by the government)
to 2020 (when the development of STS has achieved an initial
satisfactory stage).
4.3 Thematic Analysis
The research data was analysed following a thematic analysis
approach (Boyatzis, 1998) through which data is coded and
then derived into patterns, sub-themes and themes. The anal-
ysis procedure began with contextualisationand
familiarisationi.e. recursively reading and re-reading the
data, the following summaries and self-memos which were
generated during the data collection stage (Ritchie et al.,
2013). In this stage, an initial understanding of different stake-
holders and narratives of the value co-creation process were
obtained. The second stage started by comparing and
theorising each incident from the data into codes (Tuckett,
2005). We systematically and constantly examined the tran-
scribed texts, and an emerging list of codes was generated.
Besides, insights regarding potential relationships among the
codes, and collaborations between stakeholders in the value
co-creation process were also recorded in memos. With an
increasing number of codes and relationships between codes,
we started to capture the emergence of structure within the
In the third stage, as main categories and relationships
emerged, we further compared and explored the underlying
meanings in terms of what the categories and relationships
imply, what composes them and how they affect the value
co-creation process. Finally, after all codes emerged from
the data and categorised into sub-themes and themes, re-
searchers followed the principle of suspicion(Bernardi
et al., 2019) in order to persist cautiousness towards possible
biases of the narratives and make sure the label for concepts,
sub-themes and themes are consistent. We reached data satu-
ration by following and checking the conditions that 1) no
open codes emerged from the data; 2) all concepts and
Table 2 Summary of interviews
and focus groups Participants Roles 2016 2017 2018 Total
Citizens 30 (6 focus groups) 30
IT companies Project managers 2 5 7
C-level executives 1 3 2 6
Data scientists 2 5 7
Local government Directors of transportation bureau 2 2 4
Directors of traffic management bureau 2 2 4
Data scientists 1 1 2
Total 40 13 7 60
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categories were well established with no further possibility of
generating new concepts or categories; 3) relationships be-
tween subcategories and categories, as well as the relation-
ships among categories were well established (Fusch &
Ness, 2015). Appendix 1 demonstrates examples of the anal-
ysis process of coding, generating themes and relationships,
and refining and finalising themes.
5 Findings Interpretation and Theoretical
Our systemic thematic analysis identified five key value facets
which are discussed in this section against relevant literature
in the field of smart city and STS. In light of our current
understanding of sustainable value cocreation in building
STS in both the general and Chinese contexts, our findings
around these value facets, and our theoretical framework upon
which our key propositions are based, will be outlined in order
to explicitly underline how different social stakeholders inter-
play to cocreate value in sustainable STS.
5.1 Key Value Facets
5.1.1 Data Governance
The New-Type Urbanisationagenda, released by the central
Chinese government, places significant emphasis on leverag-
ing ICTs to promote smart information service delivery to
society (CNDRC, 2014). Keywords involved herein chime
with what the enterprise participants highlighted as imperative
to develop an integrated STS which relies on the integration
of data produced from various places i.e. sustainable devel-
opment of data infrastructure and management information.
Initiating data-integrated STS solutions necessitates system
capacity that enables data with various formats and structures,
from a variety of sites of data practice, to be technically inte-
grated into one place. From the technology point of view, the
building of data infrastructures means embedding sensor-
enabled technologies into the fabric of smart society, and
which is clearly propelled by enterprises that are considered
as system developers.
In the STS, these data infrastructures include such as smart
inductive loops, video vehicle detection, ultrasonic sensors,
urban traffic control rooms and STS cloud platforms, to han-
dle troves of big data with aim to transform cities towards
being data-driven and networked (Manyika, 2011).
However, data infrastructure needs data governance which
corral data and databases into a complicated socio-technical
structure (Kitchin, 2014). Participants of C-level executive
suggested that data infrastructures are not simply technical
imperatives; while STS practitioners need to embrace a sys-
tematic and integrative view of data, with managerial
considerations of coordinating data sources and establishing
industry data standards. Whilst enterprises actively engage in
making concerted efforts in formulating the standard, this na-
tionwide industrial normalisation is initiated by the govern-
ment who play a leading role in coordinating various trans-
portation sources.
5.1.2 Coordination Mechanisms
Coordination mechanism is well associated with the concept
of smart governance in the smart city discourse; the latter was
identified as ICT-driven collaboration and interaction between
citizens (and/or wider communities) and government admin-
istrations in regard to efficient and effective public service
delivery and information dissemination (Chourabi et al.,
2012; Tomor et al., 2019). Echoing the criticism by Harvey
(1989) who stresses governanceis not an issue that simplis-
tically amounts to the matters of the government, our evi-
dence shifts the emphasis towards a more specific mindset a
coordination mechanism that relies on synergistic cooperation
of various stakeholders, within which STS enterprises act as
key stakeholders who are involved in both the design and
implementation of sustainable value cocreation, though the
government, from time to time, exerts political intervention
into the design phase.
Our distinctive findings in regard to coordination mecha-
nisms have two-fold implications. First of all, building strate-
gic alliances across enterprises as a form of industry coalition
is a propulsion for smooth information communications and
data sharing that would enable the integrating of large troves
of data. In addition, we found that across these sites there
necessitates an integrated system undergirded by GIS plat-
form vendors. They are intensively involved in building gov-
ernmental initiatives that incorporate both technical (e.g. sys-
tem configurations, data protocols, data structures) and social
parameters (e.g. political dynamics, organisational structures).
Data and system practices amongst different interested groups
require such a socio-technical way of thinking, particularly
when it comes to interactions and contradictions (Fischer &
Herrmann, 2011). Moreover, a long-term span of
government-private partnerships (GPP) is established due to
the cosy symbiosis of data exchange operations between gov-
ernment and enterprises; data generated from either site are
generated with utilisable attributes that the other would like to
Secondly, as remarked by the socio-technical ecosystem
discourse (McKelvey et al., 2016), coordination mechanisms
extend beyond technical dimension of governing built ICTs
and infrastructures, and raise practitionersattention to the
organisational and social dynamics of cooperation, manage-
ment and governance. Coordination mechanisms of smart
governance resembles e-governance practices (Chourabi
et al., 2012), with both emphasising streamlining
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organisational structure and administrative procedures, and
coordinating both public and private resources in an integrated
form (Söderström et al., 2014). According to our longitudinal
investigation into organisational changes, we identify the need
to build Special Purpose Entities (SPEs) as the frontline orga-
nisations that are specialised in developing particular sustain-
able STS initiatives and to structurally enhance intra-agency
synergistic cooperation to strengthen overall coordination
5.1.3 Socio-Economic Dynamics
Embedding coordination mechanisms requires wider contex-
tual dynamics in both designing and implementing the value
cocreation ecosystem. We leverage the concept of smart econ-
omy to this value facet as a socio-economic position that
shapes the societal context in China. It has gained traction
amongst smart city practitioners to refer to economic compet-
itiveness, service employment and human resources, entrepre-
neurship, and markets and competitions within general smart
urbanism settings (Neirotti et al., 2014). These market-driven
practices in most cases embrace the neoliberal ethos that
claims smart initiatives as being pro-business and market-
driven through practices of privatisation and marketisation
(Hollands, 2008;Kitchin,2015).
Bearing a resemblance to such a neoliberal banner of smart
economy, Chinese smart economy manifests critical evalua-
tion of the power of multi-stakeholder interests. For STS, this
means that whilst the government tends to privatise partial
state assets onto private places, municipal government retains
control over the market field to ensure that the private give
way to the state-owned. For instance, the top government sets
underlying market rules (i.e. regulatory oversight to the bor-
derline of the public and private), following a top-down tra-
jectory of promulgation and circulation to subordinate institu-
tions and the market, whilst on the other hand they provide
many business opportunities (e.g. through open-tendering
practices), with the purpose to balance the two sectors.
Suffice to say that socio-economic dynamics of Chinese
STS development, though with certain extent of political de-
volution to market forces, are circumscribed by legitimacy,
within the boundary of which the government steers the de-
sign of specific STS initiatives towards the orientation of com-
petitive economy.
5.1.4 Political Legitimacy
Whilst the previous three value facets are represented by en-
terprise actors in both designing and implementing the STS
with government intervention, mainly in the design phase,
political legitimacy is identified as a conditional value facet
that sets a political backdrop and pre-requisites for expanding
STS initiatives and steers the orientation of development. This
means that although the way of implementation of STS initia-
tives is multi-faced with the involvement of various stake-
holders, it is corralled into legal and political arrangements
in the first place before a formal course of action. Thus, we
claim that political legitimacy works substantially in the de-
sign process of sustainable value cocreation. This is specified
in two aspects. Firstly, municipal governments enact regula-
tory oversight to the private sectors. Enterprise participants
depicted the role of government as a big hand that controls
everythingwhich is construed as a mindset of centralisation.
Private enterprises need to showcase their previous accom-
plishments in order to justify that they are capable of helping
the government address urban transportation issues and co-
creating sustainable STS. Government, within the GPP, lever-
ages their centralised politics to making standards of STS
initiatives, including open data conversion protocols, market
rules and regulations, and purposive policy-making and legis-
lation (Pereira et al., 2017).
Secondly, we found that the trust of data is crucial in sus-
tainable value cocreation, in particular the role of trust mech-
anisms to specify data ownership, copyright and credibility
within the existing settings of political legitimacy. Our find-
ings suggest that STS practitioners should raise their attention
to the legitimate outcome of data being used and re-used (par-
ticularly when data are mishandled, manipulated or inappro-
priately distributed) (Kitchin, 2014), which we termed as data
traceability, meaning that legal data authorisation protocols
(Gope & Hwang, 2016) should be established to unravel
where a particular set of data originates from and proceeds
to. Given the cross-sector data practices, this is imperative to
the building of coordination mechanisms for sustaining STS
initiatives as it involves various socio-material dynamics that
impact on the constitution of different data sources and assem-
blages, and determine how data move through spatial and
temporal dimensions of stakeholder sites of practice.
5.1.5 Citizen Participation
In our context, political legitimacy sets legal and regulatory
framework within which STS development is conducted on a
basis of concerted effort amongst government and various
enterprises. Further beyond this stands a socio-technical fram-
ing of citizen participation; whilst urban initiatives enable a
market-oriented form of governance under corporatisation and
entrepreneurship, the idea of being smartis concerned with
ownership, namely those who inhabit smart cities and are
involved in using smart services (de Lange & de Waal,
2013). Notably, we found that citizens can exert significantly
more influence upon the value co-creation process in the im-
plementation stage compared to the design process. Drawing
upon the insights from the New-Type Urbanisationagenda
concerning the promotion of citizen-centric urban system
(Chan & Anderson, 2015; CNDRC, 2014; Li & De Jong,
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2017), existing literature about smart citizen participation mo-
dality in smart city initiatives (Cardullo & Kitchin, 2019;Li&
De Jong, 2017), and the ideas garnered from our participants
with regard to the ways in which their voices were heard by
local governments and enterprise developers, we identify cit-
izens as being productive and proactive in co-shaping STS
initiatives. We will explore these two types of roles alongside
other value facets in 5.2.
Whilst the above defined value facets delineate a trajectory
of socio-technical dynamics that are crucial to sustainable val-
ue cocreation, they are also evident in representing a number
of interactions that demonstrate how these value facets inter-
play in the various stages of STS development, and by whom.
Evidenced by the findings above, we claim that the first three
value facets data governance, coordination mechanisms and
socio-economic dynamics are enacted throughout the value
cocreation process, whereas the other two (i.e. political legit-
imacy and citizen participation) are positioned as conditional
value facets and casted primarily by the government (in the
design phase) and citizens (in the implementation phase) re-
spectively. Figure 1visualises these value facets, the phases in
which they are leveraged, and the key actors who make pri-
mary contributions to each. Apart from these, we have also
raised five propositions about the interrelations across the val-
ue facets, which are discussed in the next section.
5.2 Propositions
The above-discussed facets of value are not actually indepen-
dent from one another; rather, they represent distinctive qual-
itative patterns along with their interrelations. Our longitudi-
nal case study particularly exemplified these interactions by
identifying some underlying changes which emerged from the
developing process of urban transportation initiatives in
Shijiazhuang (e.g. retrofitting high-tech transportation infra-
structure, enacting new policies and regulations) during the
period of our fieldwork. These underlying changes shape
our understanding of how value facets interplay with one
Data governance
Building data-integraon
system architecture
Establishing naonal
industry standard
Coordinaon mechanisms
Industry coalion,
Government-private partnership
Building Special Purpose Enes
Socio-economic dynamics
Open-door policy for
investment promoon
The role of markesaon
Intra-organisaonal synergisc
Polical legimacy
Centralisaon of
polical power
Data trust
(Key actor: Enterprises
as system developers)
(Key actor: Government as
policy makers)
Cizen parcipaon
Producve cizenry
Proacve cizenry
(Key actor: Cizens as end-
Fig. 1 Value co-creation process of STS initiatives
Inf Syst Front (2023) 25:365380 373
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another. Consequently, we have derived five key propositions
which we argue are crucial in the sustainable value co-creation
process of STS initiatives. Appendix 2 presents our proposi-
tions and supporting quotations as well as the role of
He and Wu (2009) argue that China learns from the expe-
rience of neoliberal urbanism in a way of embracing open
market and entrepreneurship (Hollands, 2008,2015). Many
urban initiatives like the New-Type Urbanisationagenda
(Chan & Anderson, 2015) sprout up to legally support sus-
tainable development of smart cities. This incorporates smart
transportation into nationwide objectives. Accordingly, mu-
nicipal governments have enacted STS-related policies and
put forward myriad innovative projects, such as living labs,
industry park, and big data centres. Arguably, these projects
provide cities with generative conditions for promoting STS
innovations. However, our analytical results manifest that the
government is dedicated to making iterative and ongoing ad-
justments to existing STS innovations, rather than simply
emphasising quantity (i.e. the more, the smarter, the more
sustainable). In so doing, they upgrade existing infrastructural
networks and technologies and hardware, revising policies,
and rolling out the solution from one particular locality to a
larger scale. In response to the rapid change of social and
managerial dynamics of urban transportation systems, these
approaches mark a striking feature of sustainable development
stability and vitality manifesting the way in which value is
created by different stakeholders in a concerted and persistent
manner. For example, the promulgation of the give way to
pedestrianregulation by the Traffic Management Bureau of
the Shijiazhuang government experienced many rounds of
deliberation and negotiation. Experts from industry were in-
vited to use big data analytics to analyse citizensdriving
behaviours, mobility patterns, and critical localities of traffic
accidents and congestions. Amongst them, business partners,
alongside considering how innovations they develop like
smartphone apps of transportation, also seek to reach a bal-
ance between regulations and their business. The notion of
sustainability herein conjures up a symbiotic and goal-driven
form of stakeholder relationship.
Another crucial dimension of sustainable value cocreation
is evolutionary development. Many STS initiatives are not
one-off experiments and do not serve for people in certain
places. Instead, they start off as a pilot project in one place
and will be leveraged elsewhere later if they are successful. A
notable piece of evidence drawn from our study is what en-
terprise participants refer to STS demonstration projects.
Private firms seek to promote their technologies and business
by collaborating with the local government; the outcome can
be pioneering solutions, regarded as demonstration of techno-
logical sophistication (e.g. tidal flow lanes, sensor-enabled
public transports) from which local citizens benefit. Value
can be cocreated and sustained by a continuing effort of
proliferation for wider presence. Such virtuous circle of the
STS development is hence evidenced as a crucial characteris-
tic of sustainable value cocreation that goes beyond geograph-
ical borders across cities, with the goal of achieving revolu-
tionary urban transformation.
Proposition 1: The Value co-creation process is iterative
and transformative; sustainable value is created on the
basis of continual design and implementation of STS
Globally, the rapid development of big data analytics along
with the neoliberal urbanism has changed the way in which
technologies develop. Trusted international organisations,
such as International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO),
large technology companies like IBM, Cisco, Siemens, and
quasi-governmental organisations like European
Commissions, play a crucial role in formulating smart city
rules and underwrite smart city projects. This shapes a tech-
nocratic vision of the contemporary smart city (Hollands,
2015), which challenges radical advocates who believe many
existing solutions, visions and approaches are apolitical and
scientific. In other words, the above organisations are
authorities who are mandated with power to normalise and
standardise the development process. Nevertheless, as
Kitchin (2015) argues, more critical reflections upon the
socio-political progress of sustainable urban transformation,
through in-depth case studies and comparative research, are
needed to contextualise geopolitical conditions. This study
backs up Kitchins point by highlighting the critical role of
the steering state in China. And that is, despite privatisation
and marketisation of STS services, the transportation industry
is steered by the government who determines the way in
which STS services are delivered and the extent to which
private transportation resources are harnessed for public use.
This forms a kind of contradiction between the market-driven
STS and the top-down, state-steered political legitimacy, man-
ifesting the steering position of government in creating value
for the STS and balancing the market and citizen end-users.
The governance of a smart city ecosystem is not a govern-
ment monodrama but rather a problem of socially collective
action (Harvey, 1989). Echoing this view, we extend the ar-
gument that the Chinese government play a crucial role in
coordinating STS resources and stakeholders from various
sites of practice by exerting political interventions within the
GPP. Amongst many different ways of coordination, one no-
ticeable approach is through the governments control of data,
particularly in the design stage of STS development. Value
would emerge when data produced and captured from both
private firms and state-owned organisations, are integrated
and being used for comprehensive information processing
by the government. Arguably, government transportation data
are, in terms of both structure and format, standard and
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normalised, usually with high-quality and pure content but
less up-to-date in nature. However, these data are mostly re-
lated to infrastructural assemblages, such as traffic lights, sur-
veillance systems, and so on. In contrast, private data sources
are more citizen-centric (e.g. end-user historical data) and are
utilisable in a timely manner (real-time data acquisition). Data
of both sides are reciprocally beneficiary. Government needs
data from private firms for more effective social control via
surveillance and sustainable STS development, whilst private
firms would need government data to enhance their service-
ability and consolidate customer relationships.
However, this reciprocal relationship is not equal, but rath-
er it tips the balance in the government favour (Yu & Xu,
2018). Government enacts special policies and legal stipula-
tions to dominate the collaboration. For example, the Standing
Committee of the National Peoples Congress of China
(SCNPCC) enacted the Cybersecurity Law in 2016 to protect
cyberspace and the information network from being hacked in
city cyberattacks.
When this law was first enacted, many key
private transportation firms were asked for handing their data
over to relevant government departments for the purpose of
central management. Two years after, municipal and provin-
cial governments constituted frontline big data centres termed
as Special Purpose Entities (SPEs)to collect and manage
data from private firms and public institutions. As a means
of governance through big data analytics, SPE is a kind of
socio-technical infrastructure system (Hodson & Marvin,
2010) that involves not simply data per se but also financial,
political and regulatory practices into the design process of
STS innovations. STS experts, technocrats and skeleton staff
from public bodies temporarily worked together in the SPEs.
They were granted with non-restrictive access to the shared
data sources and mandated with decision-making rights (Zang
&Musheno,2017). They also undertook regulatory oversight
(Yee & Liu, 2019) throughout the duration of the project. The
likes of the SPE and its political practices indicate the trans-
formation of the stakeholder relation towards being shaped by
the central state and steered by municipal governments. In a
nutshell, just as big international organisations set the rules
and usher smart city development from across the globe, gov-
ernment and its political legitimacy in China are in a critical
position to steer the design of smart initiatives.
Proposition 2: STS development is led by powerful orga-
nisations, as those who standardise and normalise the
design process. In China, the government with its politi-
cal legitimacy play a steering role in coordinating and
integrating data sources from various sites of data prac-
tice, within the process of which value of design for the
STS is created.
Whilst value is co-created by government and STS firms in
the design process, the longitudinal study suggests that citi-
zens step in the implementation stage and play a more active
role within, and political legitimacy has some extent of influ-
ence upon citizen roles in shaping the STS. Rather than un-
questionably promoting the neoliberal smart citizen advocacy
that is generalised to many parts of the world and that em-
braces posthuman assumptions - citizens are entitled to choose
or reject services (Visser, 2019), we instead more critically
assess the role of smart citizens in sustaining value and how
their roles interact with actually existing political legitimacy in
the Chinese city.
The concept of smart city ecosystem incorporating citi-
zens, government and firms hasbeenconsideredcrucialto
sustainable governance (Ju et al., 2019). Despite steering roles
of government in the design process, many smart systems
have shifted their focus towards end-user services. Kitchin
et al. (2019) argue that the smart city and its subsystems
should serve the interests of all citizens rather than just select-
ed populations, and mostly so-called citizen-centric initiatives
are rooted in civic paternalism (deciding what is best for
citizens) and stewardship (delivering services on behalf of
citizens). From this view, decisions are made by many stake-
holders involved in discussion, suggestion and negotiation,
and citizens are able to have certain degree of influence on
this process. However, our longitudinal study suggests that
government and industry determine the way in which services
are delivered to citizens, namely citizens have no say in mak-
ing decisions and designing the services.
Citizens see themselves as data usersor data consumers
entitled with basic rights in the contemporary smart city.
Cardullo and Kitchin (2019) define such a role as consumer-
ismwhich suggests that citizens are allowed to browse, con-
sume and make choices from existing offerings. Such con-
sumerism is a striking feature of the western neoliberal con-
text. However, in the Chinese smart urbanism, whilst the gov-
ernment leverages technology to promote big data-driven and
networked urbanism (e.g. shared economy), citizens tend to
shift their roles towards data producers,aswhatweargueas
being productive citizenry. Productive citizens can offer not
only data points which are used by the government for legal
purposes, but also meaningful end-user patterns (e.g. mobility
patterns to predict future traffic status) which STS firms make
use of to develop more citizen-centric solutions. In a nutshell,
STS firms bridge the government and citizens by reproducing
citizen data for improvement of existing services and devel-
opment of new solutions. Value is thus sustainably co-created
insofar as data repeatedly journey across different stakeholder
sites of practice.
In addition to being data producers, citizens are also partic-
ularly regarded as proactive citizenry in the implementation
stage of STS development. This refers to citizensawareness
of being smart(i.e. propensity to use innovative
SCNPCC: Available at
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applications) and their innate smart mindset (i.e. conformity
with smart and sustainable ethos). There has been a transfor-
mation of the way in which the government deal with what
participants referred to as undisciplined citizenswho try to
exploit the legal loophole (e.g. over speeding, jumping the red
light. Government works in concerted effort with STS firms to
come up with solutions that allow citizens to proactively sug-
gest, report, comment and complain about the problems they
encounter through either the online discussion boards on the
government website, reporting channels via smartphone ap-
plications, and so on. In a word, value co-creation takes place
as STS firms and government work together to build up the
channels through which citizens proactively step in for
Proposition 3: Value cocreation is driven by smart citi-
zens producing data sources and proactively engaging in
ameliorating services during the implementation pro-
cess; this value is leveraged by the government and STS
firms to design new solutions for sustainable STS
Citizen participants expressed positive opinions regarding
the performance of existing STS solutions, especially those
used in traffic prediction, journey planning, and online taxi
hailing services such as route guidance screens and GPS nav-
igation devices. Enterprise and government participants, how-
ever, suggested that these are independent systems with data
from one application not able to be shared with other applica-
tions. Whilst existing STS technologies, in principle, are com-
petent to integrate data from various sites of applications,
socio-political barriers stand in the way of such an integration
process, including privacy concerns (Cottrill, 2020), issues of
organisational boundaries (Goble & Stevens, 2008), data se-
curity (An et al., 2016), and so on. Some of these issues, like
those related to privacy and security, need more user-centric
data infrastructures that are built upon citizen end-user
datasets and are not only reliant on conventional GPS ap-
proaches anymore. Integrating data in this sense indicates
the need for refashioning data governance strategy such as
upgrading data gathering and analytics technologies, and data
infrastructures (e.g. building highly integrated system archi-
tecture and hardware configuration), with high system capac-
ity to integrate data from various types of existingapplications
with different types of end-users.
The refashioning of data governance strategy actually re-
flects another two issues herein why are citizen end-user
data important, and how do citizens potentially push IT enter-
prises to upgrade technology for the design and implementa-
tion of new innovations? Our investigations revealed that
many tailored STS solutions are derived from citizens, not
simply by listening to their opinions, but instead by predictive
profiling through big data analytics and by engaging end-user
representatives in thought experiments and crowdsourcing
and brainstorming exercises. A typical example in our study
is the custom-built smart bike service developed by one of our
case firms. They released the location sharingservice on the
app particularly for young parents to track the location of their
kids in a timely manner. Despite some potential ethical con-
cerns perhaps regarding privacy, this idea was derived purely
from citizen end-users: when many parents expressed their
concerns over safety and security issues, they drew the firms
attention. They are invited to a thought experiment to envision
possible scenarios that address their concerns.
Such a technical amelioration indicates the opening of data
release protocol to end-users and the upgrading of sensors
embedded in the bikes. Hence, the question we asked above
seems not to be an issue of just interactions between citizens
and IT enterprises at surface level, but rather a smart city
rhetoric that reflects the mainstream smart city ideology which
is deeply entrenched in myriads of designated commercial
initiatives: citizen-centric form of smart governance
(Hollands, 2015; Kitchin, 2015; Söderström et al., 2014).
When citizens do have a say, IT enterprises tend to leverage
technology to placate. Instead of simply providing feedback,
citizens are able to suggest alternatives or express their opin-
ions concerning deep-rooted urban pathologies (Cardullo &
Kitchin, 2019). However, the challenge is still the same issue
centralised political constraints, with which citizens can only
raise their voice when they are needed and when particular
solutions are being implemented.
Proposition 4: STS technologies and data infrastructures
are designed to benefit citizens but implemented on the
basis of citizens.
The prior propositions revealed three main characteristics
of value co-creation in initiating data-integrated STS solu-
tions: government-steered in nature, techno-corporate in form,
and limited citizen participation and engagement in approach.
We now claim that citizen participation, though limited, is the
driving force in shaping socio-economic dynamics; measures
taken to stimulate economic competitiveness would further
encourage more citizens to participate in sustainable value
cocreation. Rather than simply promoting the proverbial pro-
business and profit-seeking kind of marketisation, govern-
ment participants in our last-round of interviews suggested
that sustainable STS would be banked on a level playing field
where various enterprises compete to innovate smart solutions
that serve multi-stakeholder interests.
For this reason, our findings suggest the necessity of
leveraging the governments open-tendering practices as an
instrument to effectively promote potential STS investments.
This is usually undertaken through the aforementioned GPP.
These open-tendering practices, as a matter of course, lead to
fierce market competition amongst private firms - in other
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words are comprehended as competitive tendering (Hansen,
2010; Mouwen & Rietveld, 2013). Meanwhile, the C-level
executives of the enterprise participants maintained that mar-
ket competition is a trigger of the emergence of differentiated
services. To this extent, contingencies do exist and vary in
different places, and thus it seems prominent that private firms
exercise all-inclusive planning in harnessing local market and
innovation conditions and holistic vision of market analysis in
order to enhance serviceability.
Many pre-existing smart initiatives derived from the mar-
ket overlook the role of citizens and end objectives, serving
the long-term interests of mass citizenship instead. On the one
hand, such requirement elicitation seems to be quite radical in
that firms place over emphasis upon the requirement of the
marketinstead of citizens, which echoes what we previ-
ously held that smart initiatives are in nature set out to pursue
business profits and market supremacy other than to promote
social well-being. On the other hand, our empirical evidence
indicates that various socio-economic forces (e.g. SMEs, pub-
lic institutions, local community committees, small retailers)
have been mobilised by local government to collaboratively
build participatory communities. It is manifested that
government-led multi-scalar planning and holistic strategy of
top-down resource distribution for this citizen-centric urban
initiative, needs requirement elicitation that is built on the
identification of potential socio-economic uncertainties, and
more importantly, citizen desires. Whilst these are said to be
achieved by consulting citizens about what services they wish
to have and what they perceive a particular service to be for
implementation, it is contended that, in the future, preliminary
citizen-sourcing practices should come earlier to the design
phase of service development.
Proposition 5: Whilst limited citizen participation leads
to numerous profit-seeking other than citizen-centric in-
novations, various socio-economic forces are mobilised
and coordinated by the government veering onto the
building of citizen-consulted initiatives.
6 Implications and Conclusion
6.1 Theoretical Implications
In this study, we investigated the design and implementation
of STS with respect to how value is co-created by govern-
ment, STS firms and citizens. This study has several important
theoretical implications. Firstly, it contributes to the IS litera-
ture by offering new insights on big data-driven STS initia-
tives and identifying key factors that influence successful de-
sign and implementation. Extending from current STS studies
which are mostly technology-centric, we brought in the socio-
technical system view by demonstrating technically intercon-
nected and networked components of the STS and how they
interact with social dynamics of the system throughout the
design and implementation phases.
Secondly, we contribute to research on value co-creation
in the STS context. Existing literature provides a market view
of developing STS smartphone apps and business relationship
between service providers and third-party agents (Schulz
et al., 2020). Other studies research value co-creation in the
sharing economy of public transportation (e.g. Ma et al.,
2019) and with particular emphasis upon customer engage-
ment in organisational practices (Jaakkola & Alexander,
2014; Nadeem et al., 2020). We take the STS as an entire
ecosystem and we contribute to the literature by unpacking a
set of value facets in STS development and how these facets
lie with key stakeholders. Particularly, the study addresses this
gap by theoretically framing the value co-creation process in
The third contribution is the big data integration perspec-
tive of STS governance. Building upon a holistic understand-
ing of the political-economic setting, the longitudinal case
study contributes to the understanding of how data derived
from one site of practice are re-used by another and how this
dynamic shape the way in which citizens as users participate
in extending STS initiatives.
6.2 Practical Implications
By providing an empirical investigation into the STS in
Shijiazhuang city context, our results provide useful guidance
for transportation planners and city policymakers through
specifying the role of political legitimacy, data-driven and
networked technology, STS governance, socio-economic dy-
namics, and citizen participation. The success of developing
and deploying an STS is often associated with the local gov-
ernmental goals and the intense collaboration and commit-
ment of all stakeholders. The abstraction of relationships
among participants (as discussed in the five propositions)
emerging from this research are likely to provide guidance
to other similar contexts.
As a longitudinal study, one particular practical guidance is
that in the early stage of implementing an STS, the govern-
ment pursued the usage of high technologies in the city and
organisations pursued the ultimate goal of profits, and thus
citizens merely participated in the implementation stage.
This resulted in low participation and efficiency of the system.
Comparably, in the later stage where citizens started to be
involved in the decision-making process, some efficiency
and participation problems started to disappear. Therefore, in
STS practice, citizens as end users should be encouraged to be
involved in the early decision-making process.
Finally, the narrative of the STS case in Shijiazhuang is
considered an important contribution to praxis, as this serves
Inf Syst Front (2023) 25:365380 377
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as a consultable record. The theoretical framework developed
in this study can be used as a practical guide to building future
STS initiatives, wherein several important stages and interac-
tions among key actors and stakeholders are highlighted. The
framework can be useful and applicable in the similar context.
More specifically, the three main processes with each key
actor discovered in this study could provide government and
firms with conceptual clarity and specific guidance to extend-
ing STS projects. Provided that achieving sustainability by big
data-enabled technology has gained growing traction amongst
government and firms, the study offers a strategic overview of
designing and implementing STS initiatives.
Whilst our findings revealed a systemic understanding of sus-
tainable value cocreation for STS development, the study nev-
ertheless has limitations. Firstly, the value facets, and the
propositions built upon which, are derived from our research
undertaken in a Tier-2 city context in China; the outcome is
highly contextualised to the geo-political settings therein.
Given the differences of local contingencies and socio-
political-cultural characteristics between cities at different ad-
ministrative levels, a comparative study that places focus upon
both higher and lower tier cities would offer more holistic
evidence that illustrates a whole gamut of socio-technical dy-
namics that work in Chinese cities. Moreover, this study in-
volves three main stakeholders the government, private en-
terprises and citizens who are defined as key actors in the
interaction with certain value facets. However, it might be
interesting to also investigate other types of social groups such
as research institutions and state organisations that play differ-
ent roles in these value facets.
Supplementary Information
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PublishersNote Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdic-
tional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Jun Zhang is a Lecturer in Urban Innovation at the Edinburgh Napier
University. He recently obtained his PhD in Information Systems from
the Information School, University of Sheffield. His research interests
include socio-technical design of urban operating systems, smart city
and smart transportation governance and politics, geospatial analysis of
urban territories, and critical urban theories. His has produced his work in
IEEE Internet of Things Journal.
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... This makes the mandatory of an emergency system for calling. The cost of the components in autonomous care is 186-249 European dollars [44] (Fig. 6) In the diagram mentioned above, the car's speed limit is monitored by the autonomous care, which sends the signal to the satellite using cloud computing; the satellite controls the autonomous care to control the speed using the help of the GPs. This speed is controlled, and then the speed is checked if the speed limit equal to the speed in the speedometer is equal, it ends the process or reduces the speed of the car to the speed limit. ...
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The current work aims to identify the perspectives from which scholars have studied the link between the citizens’ involvement in the use of Open Government Data (OGD) and the creation of social value to solve local issues in cities as the expected result. Recent studies have concentrated on studying the barriers and conditions of using OGD by focusing on specific types and users’ motivations. Researchers have found that the critical problem of Open Data initiatives is the lack of utilization. Therefore, to allow more rigorous empirical research to assess if the estimated effects of OGD are measurable, there is a need to investigate the link between the types of users and the potential type of effects, that for this proposal is the creation of social value. The study adopted a systematic literature review to map the most current work addressing the utilization of OGD to create social value within different domains. Forty-six records were identified and characterized into four categories of studies: i) Governance - the interconnection of aspects that allow managing and using OGD; ii) Availability- aspects limiting OGD access and re-use; iii) Adoption - aspects that enable the acceptance or rejection of OGD; and iv) Impact - capacity to solve social problems. This study reinforces the move toward decentralizing data governance and civic services.KeywordsOpen government dataSocial value creationCitizens’ involvement
... (2) Implementing a Data Governance framework and standardising the data lifecycle can help analytics-based marketing departments work more effectively and proactively address the concerns associated with their operations. Zhang and Wang (2021) This study is focused upon the form of sustainable value cocreation of smart transportation systems (STS). They Literature review; ...
... Strategy: Establishing Data Governance in Marketing requires direction to bring it into a "lived Framework" of an Organisation. This direction is provided by the Data Governance Strategy (Vision) with the goal of actively shaping and empowering the Marketing organisation to make the best use of its data capital as well as to manage the increasingly complex compliance requirements in a low-risk manner (Blomster and Koivumäki, 2022;Zhang and Wang, 2021;Gregory and Hunter, 2011). This includes active responsibility at top management level, e.g. by a Board Member/Executive Director (Gregory and Hunter, 2011), as well as taking into account the peculiarities of the industry and operational organisation. ...
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To perform under the conditions of digitalization, marketers need understandable, accurate, complete, trustworthy, secure, and discoverable data. In this respect, data governance is a solution approach to greater data literacy, data intelligence and data management. This research aims to explore the current academic state-of-art of data governance in the marketing field. Selected items were evaluated using a descriptive statistical approach to identify investigation trends on this topic. The research found that Marketing can benefit from Data Governance focusing data standard settings, data sources coordination and data management, data quality and data security. This requires a strategy, coordinated processes and their meaningful support by people and information technology. The originality of this research is that the approach is unique at this point, and the assimilation of data governance is a clear sign of manifestation for marketing under conditions of increasing digitalization.
... Vendor and Supply Chain Security: Assessing the securi and maintaining ITS components helps mitigate the risks associated with third [172]- [174]. Regular security audits, contractual agreements, and strict vetting the overall security posture. ...
Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) have revolutionized transportation by integrating advanced technologies to enhance efficiency, safety, and convenience. However, the widespread adoption of ITS also raises significant concerns regarding security and privacy. This paper explores the key security and privacy issues in ITS and highlights their potential impact on individuals, organizations, and the overall transportation ecosystem. It is noted that security vulnerabilities in ITS can have severe consequences, ranging from the compromise of personal data to the disruption of critical transportation infrastructure. Cyber-attacks targeting ITS systems can lead to unauthorized access, manipulation of traffic data, vehicle hijacking, and even accidents. Such attacks may be motivated by various factors, including financial gain, sabotage, or simply malicious intent. Consequently, ensuring the security of ITS systems is crucial to prevent potential harm and maintain public trust. Moreover, privacy concerns arise due to the extensive collection, storage, and analysis of data within ITS. The interconnectedness of various components, including vehicles, infrastructure, and mobile applications, generates vast amounts of sensitive information. This includes location data, personal identifiers, travel patterns, and behavioral profiles, which, if mishandled, can result in privacy breaches and misuse. Protecting the privacy of individuals while harnessing the benefits of ITS poses a complex challenge that requires robust privacy frameworks and data protection mechanisms. It was noted that addressing security and privacy issues in ITS demands a multi-faceted approach. It involves implementing secure communication protocols, developing resilient architectures, conducting rigorous security assessments, and establishing proactive incident response mechanisms. Additionally, privacy-enhancing technologies such as data anonymization, encryption, and access controls must be integrated into ITS systems to safeguard personal information and minimize privacy risks. Furthermore, collaboration between stakeholders, including government bodies, transportation authorities, technology providers, and end-users, is essential to foster a comprehensive security and privacy framework for ITS. Regulatory frameworks and industry standards should be established to ensure compliance, encourage best practices, and promote transparency in data handling practices. Educational initiatives and awareness campaigns can also empower users to make informed decisions and understand the potential risks associated with ITS.
... They believe that solving traffic pollution and alleviating traffic pressure is the key to urban construction. In addition, the intelligent transportation system also puts forward new strategic directions for industrial development, international competition, safety improvement, and other issues [19][20][21]. The research on dynamic development level in Japan is not as good as that in Europe and America. ...
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With the growth of national economic strength, urban modernization has become an indispensable part. Among them, urban road traffic congestion has become the main problem affecting work and traffic. Traffic pressure promotes the massive use of Internet of Things and other technologies in the transportation system. The integration of computer, Internet of Things and transportation system forms a new intelligent transportation concept. With the advent of intelligent information