New paper: Reframing, reimagining and remaking smart cities

Rob Kitchin has published a new Programmable City working paper (no. 20) – Reframing, reimagining and remaking smart cities – on SocArXiv today.  It is an introductory framing/provocation essay for the ‘Creating smart cities’ workshop to be hosted at Maynooth University, 5-6 September 2016.

Abstract

Over the past decade the concept and development of smart cities has unfolded rapidly, with many city administrations implementing smart city initiatives and strategies and a diverse ecology of companies and researchers producing and deploying smart city technologies. In contrast to those that seek to realise the benefits of a smart city vision, a number of critics have highlighted a number of shortcomings, challenges and risks with such endeavours.  This short paper outlines a third path, one that aims to realise the benefits of smart city initiatives while recasting the thinking and ethos underpinning them and addressing their deficiencies and limitations.  It argues that smart city thinking and initiatives need to be reframed, reimagined and remade in six ways.  Three of these concern normative and conceptual thinking with regards to goals, cities and epistemology, and three concern more practical and political thinking and praxes with regards to management/governance, ethics and security, and stakeholders and working relationships.  The paper does not seek to be definitive or comprehensive, but rather to provide conceptual and practical suggestions and stimulate debate about how to productively recast smart urbanism and the creation of smart cities.

Key words: smart cities, framing, vision, ethos, politics, urbanism

Two new postdoctoral posts on ProgCity project

The Programmable City project is seeking two postdoctoral researchers (14 month contracts). Preferably the posts will critically examine either:

• the production of software underpinning smart city technologies and how software developers translate rules, procedures and policies into a complex architecture of interlinked algorithms that manage and govern how people traverse or interact with urban systems; or,

• the political economy of smart city technologies and initiatives; the creation of smart city markets; the inter-relation of urban (re)development and smart city initiatives; the relationship between vendors, business lobby groups, economic development agencies, and city administrations; financialization and new business models; or,

• the relationship between the political geography of city administration, governance arrangements, and smart city initiatives; political and legal geographies of testbed urbanism and smart city initiatives; smart city technologies and governmentality.

We are prepared to consider any other proposal that critical interrogates the relationship between software, data and the production of smart cities and there will be some latitude to negotiate with the principal investigator the exact focus of the research undertaken.

While some of the research will require primary fieldwork, it is anticipated it will also involve the secondary analysis of data already generated by the project.

The project will be based in the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis (NIRSA) at Maynooth University.

More details on how to apply can be found on the University human resources site.  Closing date is 5th August.

New Paper: Locative media and data-driven computing experiments

Sung-Yueh Perng, Rob Kitchin and Leighton Evans have a new open access paper, Locative media and data-driven computing experiments, published in Big Data & Society today. It examines the staging of locative data and computing experiments to envision urban futures, and its consequences. More details are in the abstract below and the paper can be downloaded at http://bds.sagepub.com/content/3/1/2053951716652161.

Abstract

Over the past two decades urban social life has undergone a rapid and pervasive geocoding, becoming mediated, augmented and anticipated by location-sensitive technologies and services that generate and utilise big, personal, locative data. The production of these data has prompted the development of exploratory data-driven computing experiments that seek to find ways to extract value and insight from them. These projects often start from the data, rather than from a question or theory, and try to imagine and identify their potential utility. In this paper, we explore the desires and mechanics of data-driven computing experiments. We demonstrate how both locative media data and computing experiments are ‘staged’ to create new values and computing techniques, which in turn are used to try and derive possible futures that are ridden with unintended consequences. We argue that using computing experiments to imagine potential urban futures produces effects that often have little to do with creating new urban practices. Instead, these experiments promote Big Data science and the prospect that data produced for one purpose can be recast for another and act as alternative mechanisms of envisioning urban futures.

Working paper – Crafting code: Gender, coding and spatial hybridity in the events of Pyladies Dublin

A working paper by Sophia Maalsen and Sung-Yueh Perng on the subjectivity and spatiality of coding, prepared for Craft Economies: Cultural Economies of the Handmade, edited by Susan Luckman and Nicola Thomas, is available to view.

In the paper, we look at the integration of the digital and the resurgent interest in crafting artefacts. We do this by focusing on the work, relationships and spaces occupied by Pyladies Dublin – a coding group intended for women to learn and ‘craft’ code in the programming language of Python. Pyladies offers an interesting and fruitful case study as it intersects gender, relations of making and places of making, nested firmly within the digital world. The relations of making within the Pyladies group provides salient insight into the production of code, gender and space. Pyladies is predominantly attended by women with the focus to encourage women to become more active members and leaders of the Python community. By producing code in a friendly space, the group also actively works towards producing coding subjectivities and hybrid, mobile spatiality, seeking to produce coding and technology culture that is diverse and gender equitable. We base our ethnographic study to suggest ways in which Pyladies Dublin is consistently engaging in crafting code and crafting coding subjectivity and spatiality.

We thank the generosity of PyLadies Dublin for accommodating us and engaging in very productive conversation in the process.

Sophia and Sung-Yueh

Gianluca Miscione – Smartcontracts and smartcities, displacing power through authentication?

On May 18th Dr. Gianluca Miscione, lecturer at University College Dublin, delivered a Programmable City seminar on the topics of planning and distributed systems of authentication.

The talk was very well-received and attended. This video of the event offers an account of automation of authentication, blockchain and the novel forms of ‘sociation’ smart contracts
entangle with.

Call for paper: Data driven cities? Digital urbanism and its proxies

We are organising a special issues on data-driven cities. You can find more details below and we look forward to your proposals.

 

Tecnoscienza. Italian Journal of Science and Technology Studies

SPECIAL ISSUE

“DATA DRIVEN CITIES? DIGITAL URBANISM AND ITS PROXIES”

Guest editors:

Claudio Coletta (Maynooth University)

Liam Heaphy (Maynooth University)

Sung-Yueh Perng (Maynooth University)

Laurie Waller (Technische Universität München)

Call for papers:

In the last few decades, data and software have become an integral part of urban life, producing a radical transformation of social relations in cities. Contemporary urban environments are characterised by dense arrangements of data, algorithms, mobile devices, and networked infrastructures. Multiple technologies (such as smart metering, sensing networks, GPS transponders, CCTV, induction loops, and mobile apps) are connected with numerous processes (such as institutional data management, data brokering, crowdsourcing, and workflow management), in order to provide sustainable, efficient, and integrated city governance and services. Accordingly, big data and algorithms have started to play a prominent role in informing decision-making and in performing the spatial, material, and temporal dimensions of cities.

Smart city initiatives undertaken globally are characterised by highlighting the purported benefits of partly automating management of public services, new forms of civic engagement enabled by digital infrastructures, and the potentials for innovating policy and fostering economic development.

Yet, contributions within STS, Critical Data Studies, Geography, Sociology, Media Studies and Anthropology have contested the neutral and apolitical nature of (big) data and the ahistorical, aspatial, homogenizing vision of cities in favour of an understanding that recognizes the situated multiplicity of actual digital urbanism. The politics of data, data analytics and visualizations perform within specific urban and code assemblages embodying specific versions of real-time and anticipatory governance. At the same time, these studies highlight the risks of dataveillance as well as the corporatisation of governance and technocratic solutionism which, especially coupled with austerity regimes, seem to reinforce inequalities while influencing people’s lives out of the public grasp. Within this context, vested interests interact in a multi-billion global market where corporations, companies and start-ups propose data-driven urban solutions, while public administrations increasingly delegate control over citizens’ data. Also, public institutions and private companies leverage the efforts of open data movements, engaged civic communities and citizen-minded initiatives to find new ways to create public and economic value from urban data.

The aim of this special issue is therefore to encourage critical and transdisciplinary debates on the epistemological and ontological implications of actual data-driven urbanism: its uncertain, fragile, contested, conflicting nature; the different forms of performing and making sense of the urban environment through data and algorithms; the different ways to approach the relationship between data, software and cities; the urban and code assemblages that are produced.

To what extent cities are understandable through data? How do software and space work in urban everyday life and urban management? How do data and policies actually shape each other? What forms of delegation, enrolment and appropriation take place?

We welcome theoretical and empirical contributions critically addressing the following (non-exhaustive-list-of) topics:

- urban big data, city dashboards;

- data analytics and data brokering;

- IoT based urban services;

- predictive analytics and anticipatory governance;

- civic hacking, open data movements;

- privacy, security and surveillance in data-driven cities;

- crowd, mobility and traffic management;

- sensors, monitoring, mapping and modelling for urban facilities;

- digitization of built environment.

 

Deadline for abstract submissions: June 30th, 2016

Abstracts (in English) with a maximum length of 1000 words should be sent as email attachments to redazione@tecnoscienza.net and carbon copied to the guest editor at datadrivencities@tecnoscienza.net. Notification of acceptance will be communicated by July 2016.

Deadline for full submissions: October 15th, 2016.

Submissions (in English with a maximum length of 8000 words, including notes and references) can be made via the Journal’s submission system at www.tecnoscienza.net and an electronic copy of the article should be sent to redazione@tecnoscienza.net. The papers will be subject to a blind peer refereed review process. The special issue is expected to be published in 2017.

For further information about the special issue, contact the guest editors at datadrivencities@tecnoscienza.net.

For further information about the Journal please visit the Journal’s web site at http://www.tecnoscienza.net.

Claudio, Liam, Sung-Yueh and Laurie