New paper: Data ratcheting and data-driven organisational change in transport

A new Progcity paper has been published by Liam Heaphy in Big Data and Society.

Data ratcheting and data-driven organisational change in transport

doi: 10.1177/2053951719867359

Abstract

This article explores the process by which intelligent transport system technologies have further advanced a data-driven culture in public transport and traffic control. Based on 12 interviews with transport engineers and fieldwork visits to three control rooms, it follows the implementation of Real-Time Passenger Information in Dublin and the various technologies on which it is dependent. It uses the concept of ‘data ratcheting’ to describe how a new data-driven rational order supplants a gradualist, conservative ethos, creating technological dependencies that pressure organisations to take control of their own data and curate accessibility to outside organisations. It is argued that the implementation of Real-Time Passenger Information forms part of a changing landscape of urban technologies as cities move from a phase of opening data silos and expanded communication across departments and with citizens towards one in which new streams of digital data are recognised for their value in stabilising novel forms of city administration.

Keywords: Intelligent transport systems, real-time information, smart city, Big Data, organisational change

The paper is open access and you can access it here

New book: The Right to the Smart City

Right to the smart city coverFriday was publication day for ‘The Right to the Smart City‘ book edited by Paolo Cardullo, Cesare Di Feliciantonio and Rob Kitchin published by Emerald. The book is the outcome of the fourth international workshop hosted by the Programmable City project and focuses on the interrelationship of smart cities, rights, citizenship, social justice, commons, civic tech, participation and ethics. It includes chapters by Katharine Willis, Jiska Engelbert, Alberto Vanolo, Michiel de Lange, Catherine D’Ignazio, Eric Gordon, Elizabeth Christoforetti, Andrew Schrock, Sung-Yueh Perng, Gabriele Schliwa, Nancy Odendaal, Ramon Ribera-Fumaz, and the three editors.

1.    Citizenship, Justice and the Right to the Smart City. Rob Kitchin, Paolo Cardullo, Cesare Di Feliciantonio

Part 1: Citizenship and the commons

2.    Whose right to the smart city?
Katharine Willis

3.    Reading the neoliberal smart city narrative: The political potential of everyday meaning making.
Jiska Engelbert

4.    Playable urban citizenship: Social justice and the gamification of civic life.
Alberto Vanolo

5.    The right to the datafied city: Interfacing the urban data commons.
Michiel de Lange

6.    Smart commons or a ‘smart approach’ to the commons?
Paolo Cardullo

7.    Against the romance of the smart community: The case of Milano 4 You.
Cesare Di Feliciantonio

Part 2: Civic engagement, participation and the right to the smart city

8.    Sensors and civics: Towards a community-centred smart city.
Catherine D’Ignazio, , Eric Gordon and Elizabeth Christoforetti

9.    What is civic tech? Defining a practice of technical pluralism.
Andrew Schrock

10.    Hackathons and the practices and possibilities of participation.
Sung-Yueh Perng

11.    Smart cities by design? Interrogating design thinking for citizen participation.
Gabriele Schliwa

12.    Appropriating ‘big data’: exploring the emancipatory potential of the data strategies of civil society organisations in Cape Town, South Africa.
Nancy Odendaal

13.    Moving from smart citizens to technological sovereignty?
Ramon Ribera-Fumaz

14.    Towards a genuinely humanizing smart urbanism.
Rob Kitchin

Smart spaces and smart citizens?

I attended the Smart Cities and Regions Summit in Croke Park, Dublin, today and took part in the ‘smart spaces and smart citizens?’ panel. We were asked to produce a short opening statement and thought I’d share it here.

I’m going to discuss smart citizens by considering Dublin as a smart city. To start, I want to ask you a set of questions which I’d like you to respond to by raising a hand. Don’t be shy; this requires participation.

How many of you have a good idea as to what Smart Dublin is and what it does?

How many of you feel you have a good sense of smart city developments taking place in Dublin?

Would you be able to tell me much about the 100+ smart city projects that are taking place in the city in conjunction with Smart Dublin and it four local authority partners?

Would you be able to tell me much about the extent to which these projects engage with citizens?

Or how the technologies used impact citizens, either in direct or implicit ways?

Or whether Smart Dublin and the four local authorities have a guiding set of principles or a programme for citizen engagement or smart citizens?

You’re all people interested in smart cities. You’re here because it relates to your work in some way. You have a vested interest in knowing about smart cities.

Do you think that citizens in Dublin know about these projects, which might be taking place in their locality?

Do you think that they have sufficient knowledge to be able judge, in an informed way, a project’s merits?

Do you think they have an active voice in these projects’ conception, their deployment, the work that they do? In how any data generated are processed, analysed, shared, stored, and value extracted, etc.?

Do local politicians – citizen representatives – know about them? And do they have an active voice in smart city development in Dublin?

This panel is titled ‘Smart spaces and smart citizens’.

What is difficult to see in most smart city initiatives is the ‘smart citizen’ element. It seems that what is implied by ‘smart citizen’ is simply being a person living in a city where smart city technology is deployed, or being a person that uses networked digital technology as part of everyday life.

To create a smart citizen, all a state body or company apparently needs to do is say people should be at the heart of things, or enact a form of stewardship (deliver a service on behalf of citizens) and civic paternalism (decide what’s best for citizens), rather than citizens being meaningfully involved in the vision and development of the smart city.

In our own research concerning networked urbanism and smart cities from a social sciences perspective we have been interested in exploring these kinds of questions, and how the citizen fits into the smart city. It’s a central concern in our latest book published next month, ‘The Right to the Smart City’, which explores the smart city in relation to notions of citizenship and social justice.

What our research shows is that citizens can be varyingly positioned, and perform very different roles, in the smart city depending on the type of initiative.

ladder

It is perhaps no surprise then that citizens in numerous jurisdictions have started to push back against the more technocratic, top-down, marketised versions of the smart city – the on-going protests in Toronto over the Sidewalk Labs waterfront development being a prominent example. Instead, they demand more inclusive, empowering and democratic visions, with Barcelona’s notion of technological sovereignty often providing inspiration (see my recent piece comparing Toronto and Barcelona and links to articles and organisation websites).

It is difficult to argue that we are enabling ‘smart citizens’ if they are not informed, consulted or involved in the development and roll-out of smart city initiatives. As such, if we are truly interested in creating smart citizens then we need to make a meaningful move beyond the dominant tropes of stewardship and civic paternalism to approach smart cities in a smarter way.

For a fuller discussion see the opening and closing chapters of The Right to the Smart City, which are available as open access versions.

Kitchin, R., Cardullo, P. and di Feliciantonio, C. (2018) Citizenship, Social Justice and the Right to the Smart City. Pre-print Chapter 1 in The Right to the Smart City edited by Cardullo, P., di Feliciantonio, C. and Kitchin, R. Emerald, Bingley.

Kitchin, R. (2018) Towards a genuinely humanizing smart urbanism. Pre-print Chapter 14  in The Right to the Smart City edited by Cardullo, P., di Feliciantonio, C. and Kitchin, R. Emerald, Bingley.

Rob Kitchin

Ethics washing and smart cities

Rob Kitchin has published a new article on RTE Brainstorm, The ethics of smart cities. The piece argues that the use of big data and artificial intelligence in managing cities creates many ethical issues, but initiatives to address them can enact ethics-washing in order to avoid regulation and more fundamental questions. The argument is illustrated with reference to initiatives in Toronto and Barcelona.

ethics smart cities 2

New Paper: Anticipating digital futures

Sung-Yueh Perng has a new paper published in the journal Mobilites, titled: Anticipating digital futures: ruins, entanglements and the possibilities of shared technology making, doi.org/10.1080/17450101.2019.1594867

Abstract

Contrary to the corporate production of digital cities, shared technology making explores ways of innovation that are open to all, informed by diverse knowledges, and led by citizens. However, this exploration faces corporate translation of ethical and societal values for capital accumulation and concerns around the right to participate. Building on Tsing’s concept of ‘ruins’, this paper considers the anticipation of digital futures while the neoliberal ruination of shared technology making is in full swing. The paper examines the entanglements in hackathon rationalities and practices and demonstrates that the possibilities of shared technology making emerge from disrupting technocratic visions and repurposing corporate innovation resources and techniques. Drawing on the analysis, the paper argues that these entanglements are crucial to digital futures. They disclose in concrete ways how neoliberal co-optation can be disturbed and transformed. Equally importantly, they urge continuous explorations to assemble diverse practices and values for building momentum towards sustained processes of shaping desirable futures.

New paper: The timescape of smart cities

Rob Kitchin has a new paper published online first in Annals of the Association of American Geographers, The timescape of smart cities. doi.org/10.1080/24694452.2018.1497475

Abstract

To date, critical examinations of smart cities have largely ignored their temporality. In this article, I consider smart cities from a spatiotemporal perspective, arguing that they produce a new timescape and constitute space–time machines. The first half of the article examines spatiotemporal relations and rhythms, exploring how smart cities are the products of and contribute to space–time compression, create new urban polyrhythms, alter the practices of scheduling, and change the pace and tempos of everyday activities. The second half of the article details how smart cities shape the nature of temporal modalities, considering how they reframe and utilize the relationship among the past, present, and future. The analysis draws from a set of forty-three interviews conducted in Dublin, Ireland, and highlights that much of the power of smart urbanism is derived from how it produces a new timescape, rather than simply reconfiguring spatial relations.