We had a great Creating Smart Cities Workshop last September and we will be making the video recording of the presentations available from today, and on the following Mondays!
Reframing, reimagining and remaking smart cities
Rob Kitchin, Maynooth University
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.
SESSION 1 “GOVERNANCE AND REGULATION”
1. Governing the City as a System of Systems
James Merricks White, Maynooth University
Vital to the nascent domain of city standards is an understanding of the city as a system of systems. Borrowed from urban cybernetics, this conception imagines and describes the city as comprised of distinct fields of operation and governance. While this might have previously served a pragmatic purpose, allowing a compromise to be found between centralisation and specialisation, critics argue that it has produced institutional path dependencies which, in the era of big and open data, are a source of interruption and inefficiency. Put another way, information, action and responsibility are seen to be bound-up in vertically integrated silo-like structures. By breaking down or reaching across these silos, it is hoped that new synergies in urban governance might be unlocked. In this paper I will explore the mechanisms by which three city standards naturalise and respond to the system-of-systems problematic. First, City Protocol Anatomy offers a conceptual model for thinking, communicating and coordinating action across city systems. The city is reconfigured as a body, each of its systems become that body’s organs, and a whole linguistic framework emerges for talking about the city at all manner of scales and time frames. Second, ISO 37120 enacts an set of verification and certification mechanisms in an effort to build up a database of robust urban indicators. Within cities this translates into greater communication and information exchange between the departments of a city’s authority. Finally, while only a set of policy recommendations PAS 181 is quite explicit in bringing matrix management concepts to urban governance. It imagines small, agile, tactically- specific units capable of acting across legacy governance structures. Although operating in distinct ways, each standard attempts to open up new terrain of and for urban governance. The ramifications of these new state/spaces are only beginning to emerge.
2. Hacking the Smart city and the Challenges of Security
Martin Dodge, Manchester University
AbstractThe ways that technologies are enrolled in practice and come to shape our cities is often paradoxical, bringing promised benefits (such as enhanced convenience, economic prosperity, resilience, safety) but beckoning forth unintended consequences and creating new kinds of problems (including pollution, inequality, risk, criminality). This paradox is very evident when looking back at earlier rounds of transformative urban technologies, particularly in energy supply, transportation, communication and electro-mechanical systems of automation. The paradox is arguably even more pronounced in relation to the development of smart urbanism and will be examined in terms of the trade-offs around security.
This talk will consider how complex software and networked connectivity at the heart of smart cities technologies (both current, near future implementations and imagined scenarios) is opening up new risks and seems inherently to provide threats to established modes of urban management through security concerns and scope for criminal activities. I will examine how cities are becoming more vulnerable to being ‘hacked’ in relation to weaknesses directly in the technologies and infrastructures because of how they are designed, procured, deployed and operated. Then I will look at the cyberattacks against the data generated, stored and being shared across digital technologies and smart urban infrastructures. The second half of the talk considers how to defeat (or at least better defend against) those vandals, criminal and terrorists seeking hacking the smart cities, and will focus on available practical means and management approaches to better secure infrastructure and mitigate the impact of data breaches.
3. Coordinated Management and Emergency Response Systems and the Smart City
Aoife Delaney, Maynooth University
This paper maps out the historic and current organisation of the Irish Emergency Management System and its potential intersections with the Smart Dublin Initiative which could create a truly Coordinated Management and Emergency Response System (CMaERS). It begins with a brief overview of the Framework for Major Emergency Management in Ireland- an unlegislated guidance framework used foremost by the Principal Response Agencies but also by other responding agencies. Further, the paper addresses key barriers which the current Emergency Management System suffers from and which the framework inadequately attempts to overcome, in order to situate the current system. These barriers include: institutional tensions and the historical legacy of agency mandates, organisation, technologies and practices. Finally, the current system is brought into conversation with Smart Dublin to unravel whether the smart city is a barrier or whether it can be an enabler of the current Emergency Management System evolving into a CMaERS. The Smart Dublin initiative is organised across the four local authority agencies which govern Dublin County. This provides four significant opportunities for the merging of the Irish Emergency Management System and the smart city in so far unseen ways. The first opportunity is that the local authorities are, simultaneously, Principal Response Agencies (PRA) for crises and the drivers of Smart Dublin. Secondly, the governance of Smart Dublin could allow for stronger inter-agency collaboration and coordination. Thirdly, there is potential to develop an Incident Command System and finally, the Framework is unlegislated. These opportunities would help to position Dublin to be one of the first smart Emergency Management Systems –a CMaERS which could, potentially, result in better inter-agency coordination, standardised technology across agencies, interlinked control rooms, and a more resilient emergency response system.
4. Dumb Democracy and Smart Politics? Transitions and Alternatives in Smart Urban Governance
Jathan Sadowski – Delft University
First, I will set the stage with an overview of smart urban governance: How is the city managed and administered? What are the policy and development goals? What actors are involved (and benefit)? What ideologies inform implemented and envisioned governance models? While (smart) governance is often touted as pragmatic, neutral, and non-ideological, I will establish that it is in fact thoroughly political, partisan, and value-ladened.
Second, I will argue that the “smart city,” not only as a set of initiatives, but as a political event, is reviving classically important topics in political theory, which, in modern liberal-democratic society, have been largely taken for granted—implicitly operating in the background of political society and life—but are now being resurfaced, reexamined, and redefined. I make this argument by providing a survey of contemporary tensions and transitions occurring at the level of political society. These are not deterministically caused by the smart city, however, urban governance constructs a platform for these tensions and transitions, encouraging and amplifying their effects. They include: 1) consent and legitimacy => terms of service agreements; 2) citizenship => “citizen sensing”; 3) public services => X-as-a-service (or, Uber for X model); 4) political deliberation and discretion => data-driven, algorithmic decision-making; 5) social contract => corporate contract.
Third, I will end by sketching a series of principles and processes that contribute towards alternative arrangements of the smart city. By directly engaging with the above transitions, I aim to push back against neoliberal governance, technocratic pragmatism, and repressive use of technical systems. My goal is not to advocate for a conservative position: a stale maintenance of the status quo that is anti-change, anti-technology, anti-prosperity. Rather, I argue that if we are to embrace the smart city, it should be accompanied with a politics founded on equity, emancipation, and empowerment. As Rob Kitchin said in a recent report from the Irish Government Data Forum, “Ignoring or deliberately avoiding smart city technologies is not a viable approach; nor is developing smart cities that create a range of harms and reinforce power imbalances”.
Do come back next Monday! The next session awaits!