IRC Ulysses Award: “Reshaping cities through data and experiments”

We are delighted to announce that ProgCity postdoc researchers Claudio Coletta, Liam Heaphy and Sung-Yueh Perng have been awarded the IRC Ulysses Grant 2016 to start a new research collaboration between the Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation (i3-CSI) at the École des Mines in Paris, and the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis (NIRSA) in Maynooth University.

The collaborative project, entitled “Reshaping cities through data and experiments”, includes workshops and a series of coordinated publications that will advance our understanding of the contemporary city in relation to urban data and experimentation. The first workshop will take place in Maynooth University (29-31 May 2017) and the second one in the École des Mines, in October 2017.

The overall questions that the collaboration seeks to address are:
1. What data are generated by cities in the context of smart cities and core services such as transport? For whom are these data created and on what infrastructure are they dependent?
2. How are the experiments and demonstrations for urban change organised and accounted? Which actors are involved and how do they engage?
3. How experiments and demonstration through data affect the everyday life of cities, their management and governance practices?

The scientific exchange will explore the following three intertwined aspects that are critical to urban management, governance and everyday life in cities: civic engagement, mobility and automated management.

With respect to civic engagement, the two groups will reflect upon specific ways in which civic initiatives seek to obtain, repurpose and act on urban data for improving quality of life. With respect to mobility, the two groups will discuss the convergence of organisational, technological, political and economic dimensions in initiatives dedicated to innovative mobility practices and demonstrations. They will investigate (1) how such global phenomena are related to wider public or private development strategies (2) how “best practices”, business plans or technical systems circulate from one place to another. With respect to automated management, the two groups will explore the testing of new urban services where the urban environment is used as a living laboratory, such as IoT (Internet of Things) technologies for measuring air pollution and traffic monitoring. Thus conceived the project has two main projected outcomes: to produce scientific and transferable knowledge on the shaping of contemporary cities and to create awareness on the implications of experimental and data-driven urbanism.

Claudio, Liam and Sung-Yueh are honoured and grateful to the IRC for this great opportunity to advance their research on smart cities and build new international collaborations.

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New paper: Living Labs, vacancy, and gentrification

Paolo Cardullo and Rob Kitchin have published a new working paper: ‘Living Labs, vacancy, and gentrification‘ on SocArXiv. It was prepared for the ‘The New Urban Ruins: Vacancy and the Post-Crisis City’ workshop, 1-3 March 2017, Trinity College Dublin.

Abstract
This paper evaluates smart city (SC) initiatives in the context of re-using vacant property. More specifically, we focus on living labs (LL) and vacancy in general, as well as on their potential role in fostering creative economy-fuelled gentrification. LL utilise Lo-Fi technologies to foster local digital innovation and support community-focused civic hacking, running various kinds of workshops and engaging with local citizens to co-create digital interventions and apps aimed at ‘solving’ local issues. Five approaches to LL are outlined and discussed in relation to vacancy and gentrification: pop-up initiatives, university-led activities, community organised venues/activities, citizen sensing and crowdsourcing, and tech-led regeneration initiatives. Notwithstanding the potential for generating temporary and independent spaces for transferring and fostering digital competences and increasing citizens’ participation in the SC, we argue that LL largely foster a form of participation framed within a model of civic stewardship for ‘smart citizens’. While presented as horizontal, open, and participative, LL and civic hacking are often rooted in pragmatic and paternalistic discourses and practices related to the production of a creative economy and a specific version of SC. As such, by encouraging a particular kind of re-use of vacant space, LL potentially contributes to gentrification pressures within locales by attracting the creative classes and new investment. We discuss these approaches and issues generally and with respect to examples in Dublin, Ireland.

Key words: vacancy, property, gentrification, living labs, civic hacking, creative class, regeneration

Download the paper

Workshop paper with LERO / School of Business: Perception of Value in Public-Private Ecosystems: Transforming Dublin Docklands through Smart Technologies

On December 9th 2016, Lero organised a workshop called IoT & Smart City Challenges and Applications” (ICSA 2016), prior to the 2016 International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS 2016), held in Dublin, Ireland from December 11-14. The event features 12 presentations across three themes, along with panel discussions.

Among these was the following paper on the Dublin Docklands, drawing from our early findings on partnership models for a smart district:

Perception of Value in Public-Private Ecosystems: Transforming Dublin Docklands through Smart Technologies
Olga Ryazanova, Reka Petercsak, Liam Heaphy, Niall Connolly and Brian Donnellan

or just Dublin Docklands?

Abstract:
Our study explores the potential for developing a hybrid business model for public-private ecosystem that emerged around the smart cities project in Dublin Docklands Strategic Development Zone. We focus on stakeholders’ expectations in relation to value creation and value capture, trying to understand to what extent the interests of stakeholder groups are diverse, and whether it is possible to create consensus that delivers economic, social, and environmental value for participants. The findings of this study seek to advance the literature on the business models of hybrid organisations and to test some assumptions of the research on the governance of public-private partnerships.

download

Seminar video: Andrés Luque-Ayala

On February 8th of this year, we had the pleasure of having Dr Andrés Luque-Ayala in Maynooth University to give a seminar on “Digital Territories: Location Awareness and the Re-making of Political Space in Rio’s Favelas”.

This presentation was based on research conducted with Flávia Maia (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Urban Planning Dept.) on the digital mapping of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas in the context of the city’s ICT drive to become a leading ‘smart city’.

Slides for Design, Aesthetics, Politics and Urban Lives

The slides shared below were for a talk entitled Design, Aesthetics, Politics and Urban Lives given at the event People, Cities and Urban Interaction Design on 9 March, organised by Interaction Design Association Dublin. Anja Maerz and Lucy Barrett from Future Cities Catapult together gave a very interesting talk, sharing their experiences of and reflections on their engagements with citizens for improving their experiences of living in cities in different parts of the world.

My talk focused on Dublin, particularly DCC Beta, PyLadies, Coding Grace and Code for Ireland, making the point that how we anticipate future now, in our everyday life and with diverse social worlds can have consequential effects on how futures might come about, a point drawing on the always inspirational sociology, John Urry. If you are interested, here are the slides:

New paper: Smart cities, urban technocrats, epistemic communities and advocacy coalitions

 

Rob Kitchin, Claudio Coletta, Leighton Evans, Liam Heaphy and Darach MacDonncha have published a new working paper:  ‘Smart cities, urban technocrats, epistemic communities and advocacy coalitions‘ on on SocArXiv. It has been prepared for the ‘A New Technocracy’ workshop,University of Amsterdam, March 20-21 2017.

Abstract
In this paper, we argue that the ideas, ideals and the rapid proliferation of smart city rhetoric and initiatives globally have been facilitated and promoted by three inter-related communities. A new set of ‘urban technocrats’ – chief innovation/technology/data officers, project managers, consultants, designers, engineers, change-management civil servants, and academics – many of which have become embedded in city administrations.  A smart cities ‘epistemic community’; that is, a network of knowledge and policy experts that share a worldview and a common set of normative beliefs, values and practices with respect to addressing urban issues, and work to help decision-makers identify and deploy technological solutions to solve city problems.  A wider ‘advocacy coalition’ of smart city stakeholders and vested interests who collaborate to promote the uptake and embedding of a smart city approach to urban management and governance.  We examine the roles of new urban technocrats and the multiscale formation and operation of a smart cities epistemic community and advocacy coalitions, detailing a number of institutional networks at global, supra-national, national, and local scales. In the final section, we consider the translation of the ideas and practices of the smart city into the policies and work of city administrations. In particular, we consider what might be termed the ‘last mile problem’ and the reasons why, despite a vast and active set of technocrats and epistemic community and advocacy coalition, smart city initiatives are yet to become fully mainstreamed and the smart city mission successfully realized in cities across the globe. We illustrate this last mile problem through a discussion of plans to introduce smart lighting in Dublin.

Key words: smart cities, epistemic community, advocacy coalition, technocrats, urban governance, city administration, smart lighting

The paper can be downloaded here