Author Archives: Claudio Coletta

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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“Creating Smart Cities” workshop videos: Session 5

We are happy to share the fifth and last (but not least) set of videos from The Programmable City’s recent workshop “Creating Smart Cities”, Session 5: Co-design/co-production of smart cities. [Session 1 here, Session 2 here, Session 3 here, Session 4 here]

The Importance of Enacting Appropriate Legislation to Enable Smart City Governance

Niall Ó Brolcháin, NUI Galway

Abstract
While the technological and data based aspects of the Smart City discourse and ecosystem in the Republic of Ireland continue to progress at a steady pace, policies, procedures and legislation do not appear to be making progress at quite the same rate. There is a clearly measurable increase in Smart City and Open Data related research funding from the three levels of governance, local, national and European Union. In terms of commercial capacity we have seen a significant increase in Smart City related technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT); however, discussions around legislation and enabling policy frameworks with a few notable exceptions have not made such significant progress.There is also a clear difference to the approach being adopted by each of the three levels of Governance to the Smart City concept and to the sharing of data across the public services. The lack of a co-ordinated approach with joined up thinking at all levels is not consistent with the concept of “Smartness”.
In this talk we will look at examples of legislation and policies relating to Smart Cities and data sharing. We will examine the barriers to progress in these areas while exploring potential solutions and synergies at each of the three levels of governance.

Technical Citizenry and the Realization of Bike Share Design Possibilities

Robert Bradshaw, Maynooth University

Abstract

Contemporary or “smart” bike share schemes have exploited the capacity of information and communications technologies to effectively automate systems and deliver improved mobility and convenience for citizens in a way that is both sympathetic to the environment and cost effective for service providers. However research in the sector has tended to view schemes as technically homogenous with comparatively little attention paid to the potential of collaborative design processes to deliver on goals which transcend quite narrow definitions of efficiency and sustainability. As the industry evolves and new forms of engagement emerge, collaborative design has the potential to enrol riders in knowledge sharing and decision making practices which frame them, not as passive recipients of information and services, but as active participants in the creation of the systems they appropriate. Using a lens derived from Andrew Feenberg’s critical theory of technology, this paper reports on a case study conducted in Hamilton, Canada, which explored these themes through an analysis of the design and implementations strategies used to realize their bike share scheme in the real world. The findings reveal the system be integral to, and reflective of, a new liberatory and inclusive politics emerging within the city. The scheme was seen to embody Feenberg’s notions of democratic rationalization and technical citizenry, with institutional expertise and lay experience combining in imaginative and mutually coherent ways to create a technology which embodies a diverse and complementary set of goals and ideologies.

The political and economic realities of introducing a smart lighting system

Darach MacDonncha, Maynooth University

Abstract

Existing studies on the proliferation of ‘Smart City’ associated technologies have often sought to identify the patterns or models of such initiatives. In addition, the implementation of such schemes is often portrayed in the literature in a manner that fails to account for the political and economic realities necessary for their initial conceptualisation and subsequent introduction. In reality the roll-out of such schemes is often far more contested politically and ad-hoc in nature due to a variety of factors. The effective rollout of such initiatives is often contingent on the technologies, motivations, and various stakeholders involved. This paper addresses this misconception by focusing on the practicality of implementing an initiative of this nature. The paper details one project that reflects the political and economic realities of introducing a smart lighting system and seeks to provide critical reflections on the feasibility of the concept and a review of the accompanying institutional regime and the project’s development. The paper also reviews the suitability of a re-conceptualisation of regime and regulation theory together to provide greater insights into the local actors and institutions of the project with recognition of their wider contextual meaning.

Smart for a reason: sustainability and social inclusion in the sharing city

Duncan McLaren, Lancaster Environment Centre – Julian Agyeman, Tufts University

Abstract
This paper explores the overlap between concepts and discourses of smart cities and sharing cities. It identifies common roles for modern technologies (such as Web2, mobile internet, RFID and connected devices), but contrasts the goals and motivations involved. It highlights the complementary value of low-tech sharing – from public spaces to libraries – in supporting social inclusion, and the harmful impacts of economic motivations on sustainability. It argues for a broad social, cultural and political understanding of the logics of urban sharing and urban commoning, in which technological smartness can be harnessed to social transformation of values and behavior. It suggests that cities should embed smart city activities within broadly defined sharing city objectives and programmes, co-produced with citizens.

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“Creating Smart Cities” workshop videos: Session 4

We are happy to share the fourth set of videos from The Programmable City’s recent workshop “Creating Smart Cities”, Session 4: Smart districts and living labs. [Session 1 here, Session 2 here, Session 3 here]

Surveilling the “smart” city to secure economic development in Camden, New Jersey

Alan Wiig, University of Massachusetts, Boston

Abstract
Smart city agendas are often aligned with the creation of new urban districts to attract or retain information and innovation-focused firms. While many of these areas are greenfield sites in the global South, these areas are also emerging in industrial-era cities in the global North. To wit, this essay charts the evolution of Camden, New Jersey’s zones of globalized enterprise. Nearly $2 billion is or will soon be invested in the city. I argue that securing this investment first necessitated implementing “smart” policies around security, surveillance, and policing. As these smart city, free enterprise zones become common styles of urban-economic development worldwide (Easterling 2014), critically engaging with the development strategies underlying said zones is necessary to situate the smart city within the ongoing, evolving relationship between the global economy and cities themselves. Contrasting the emerging geography of global capitalism with the installation of a citywide, digital surveillance apparatus presents an opportunity to investigate the spatial and infrastructural context within which the discourse of and technologies of the smart city are deployed.

Building Smart City Partnerships in the ‘Silicon Docks’

Liam Heaphy, Maynooth University – Réka Pétercsák, Maynooth University

Abstract

The regeneration of the Dublin Docklands as a Smart Port and a place in which to work and live brings about a renewed debate on urban form, function and heritage. Steps have also been taken to characterise the Docklands as a smart district for trialling new urban technologies in collaboration with private enterprise and the start-up community, for which infrastructure is now being put in place across the city. Even in the Smart City realm, local authorities are regarded as the main responsible providers of urban social functions, but the present platform of engagement proves to be more complex: it is influenced by the changing roles of planning agencies, the transformation of the financial services industry, SME alliances and local demographics. The relations of stakeholders are underpinned by their perceived and real ownership of city assets, but are also constantly framed by the future projection of their sovereignty in the area. This paper, therefore, aims to contribute to the conversation on the smart development of the Dublin Docklands by uncovering the local characteristics of engagement. We argue that the collaboration network among heterogeneous stakeholders forms a critical infrastructure, and shapes and enables the transformation of an urban region. Although tied to a global context of deepening globalisation and synergies between investment capital and elected governments, of special interest is the means by which this work is shaped by local context and national priorities.

University Campuses as Bounded Sites of Smart City Co-Production

Andy Karvonen, University of Manchester

Abstract

Universities are significant actors in the co-production of smart cities. Academics provide expertise on the technical, economic, and social aspects of smart technologies and systems as well as serve as evaluators of smart project performance. However, universities also play a significant role in the spatialisation of smart cities by serving as physical sites for innovation activities. Urban university campuses provide an ideal space for experimentation because they are 1) comprised of a large, single-owner estate; 2) include a collection of buildings and infrastructure networks that are managed in-house; 3) provide opportunities for applied research and teaching; and 4) leverage innovation activities as a means to enhance the institution’s reputation in the higher education sector. This paper focuses on the spatial aspects of smart city co-production and the role of university campuses as targeted sites of urban experiments. The work is based on Triangulum, a Horizon 2020-funded project that is targeting two university campuses in Manchester to trial an integrated suite of energy, transport, and ICT technologies. The project frames the campuses as testbeds of innovation with stakeholders including the university estates departments, academic researchers, the local authority, a public-private urban development partnership, and two technical consultants. The project draws the universities into Manchester’s larger knowledge economy agenda while providing a protected space of innovation to trial particular interventions in the heart of the city. Using ideas from laboratory studies and sustainable transitions, this paper suggests that university campuses play a significant role in the co-production of smart cities.

Algorhythmic governance: regulating the city heartbeat with sensing infrastructures

Claudio Coletta, Maynooth University

Abstract

I will address actual forms of “algorhythmic governance” in cities, intended as the way of shaping urban temporality through digital infrastructures to order urban life. Looking at cases and practices of configuring, deploying and retrieving data from sensing devices for sound and air quality monitoring in Dublin, the study will explore how the rhythm of the city is regulated and tuned in order to enact specific forms of governance. In particular, the attention will be directed to the frequency rate of data capture as a crucial aspect in making sensing devices accountable for urban management: on the one hand, producing and maintaining constant the heartbeat of the city allows to generate predictable models for managing urban settings and act upon them; on the other hand, however, setting the frequency and the right measure requires continuous adjustments and balances depending on the historical and situated dimension of city life, related for example to mutable mobility and planning aspects. In order to be effective, governance needs to combine different rhythms given the interconnected and multifarious kind of rhythms and measures. Nonetheless, setting the rhythm makes important distinction between what is noise and what is signal, what is relevant for governance and what is not, what can be predictable and included and what cannot. In emphasizing the role of rhythms in urban governance, the study intends to critically address the debate on anticipatory governance and speculative design considering the multiple, coexisting and conflicting space-time dimensions of the city.

“Creating Smart Cities” workshop videos: Session 3

We are happy to share the third set of videos from The Programmable City’s recent workshop “Creating Smart Cities”, Session 3: Privacy and security concerns in smart cities. [Session 1 here, Session 2 here]

Pseudonymisation and the Smart City: Considering the General Data Protection Regulation

Maria Murphy, Maynooth University

Abstract
The great promise of smart cities is tempered by the very real risks associated with the large-scale collection, sharing, and analysis of data. As the General Data Protection Regulation – set to apply from May 2018 – attempts to respond to the modern data processing environment, this paper considers the implications of the new Regulation for the smart city. In particular, this paper examines the introduction of a “privacy by design” mandate and considers the endorsement of pseudonymisation as a privacy enhancing technique. The “positive-sum” pro- privacy and pro-progress philosophy of the privacy by design approach would appear, on first inspection, to perfectly address the challenges of the smart city. In reality, of course, while privacy by design offers a helpful “mindset”, it is certainly not a panacea.

From start to smart: A 100 smart cities but where are the citizens?

Ayona Datta, King’s College London

Abstract

In January 2016, the Indian government announced the first 20 winners of its smart cities challenge. This is the start of the journey for these cities to becoming smart. As part of this challenge, each city developed a pan-city and area-based proposal to reflect their local context, resources, and priorities of citizens. At the end of this journey a total of 100 small to medium cities in India would have retrofitted their chosen urban areas with smart infrastructure, transport, housing and governance. The end of this journey for the 100 cities will seemingly mark the beginning of India’s new urban age.
In this paper, I search for the elusive citizens in India’s ambitious national urbanization programme of creating 100 Smart Cities. Examining the different smart city proposals submitted by the nominated cities for the smart cities challenge, I argue that each of these seek to present particular visions, imageries and fantasies of performing the smart citizen. These can be roughly presented as 1) Fast-tracked citizens- the near overnight production of a mega base of urban ‘population’ in each city for the mandatory citizen consultation in the smart city challenge. 2) Acquiescent citizens who contribute to open data, engage in e-governance and increase ‘civic discipline’ through citizen surveillance 3) Entrepreneurial citizens who contribute to economic growth and prosperity of the smart city, who are framed as careerist and heroic, but who individually and collectively take the risk and precarity of speculative markets on their shoulders.
Through these three figures, this paper will ask how the ‘citizen’ has become the biggest urban fantasy of India’s Smart city challenge, and what are the consequences of this fantasy. The answer to these questions will have profound consequences for the understanding of India’s urban futures and the urbanization of citizenships in the region.

[Video not available]

The Privacy Parenthesis: The Structural Transformation of the Private Sphere

Leighton Evans, University of Brighton

Abstract

The “Snowden Revelations” that revealed the extent of surveillance of everyday citizens in everyday life have been a focal event for discussion on the mediation of privacy itself in the digital age. As technological development moves towards the everyday integration of things in the “Internet of Everything”, this chapter focuses upon the shifting sense of privacy in spaces that were once considered “private” in light of the extraordinary levels of data collection continuing unabated in everyday life. To do this, I use the metaphor of parenthesis as a way of conceptualising the separateness of the private realm from other realms of human activity. The use of parenthesis here is in a dual articulation; parenthesis articulates both the separate nature of the private and problematizes the modern conception of privacy as a separate, private space linked to property ownership that is being challenged by digital media. Discussions on the “end of privacy” can be assimilated into this metaphor; in essence, this approach rejects the claim to an end of privacy but argues that privacy itself (here, the very nature of what lies in parenthesis) is changing from a spatial privacy to another, non-spatial form. This non-spatial privacy is characterised as intentional, mannered and performed, and is reflected upon with reference to the development of the smart city as a concept and phenomenal space.

From data subjects to data producers: negotiating the role of the public in urban digital data governance

Christine Richter (University of Twente), Linnet Taylor (Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society), Shazade Jameson (Independent), and Carmen Pérez del Pulgar (Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals)

Abstract

Today’s smart city programs and systems bring private and public sector actors together in ways that are creating streams of data about citizens, and these streams inhabit a legal and practical grey area between the public and private domains. Digital traces from sensors and digital communications tools can be merged and linked with official records, volunteered data from apps, social media, and citizen feedback systems in ways that have implications for privacy and data protection. City authorities are not yet addressing the ethical implications of today’s data governance decisions: seemingly inconsequential data often contain intimate behavioural and locational traces, and all digital data produced by people have a long half-life, gaining in both financial value and sensitivity over time. As data become big data, existing rules and norms (such as the Fair Information Practice Principles) become unworkable, and regimes developed for analogue data are not easily updated for the era of ubiquitous computing, profiling and artificial intelligence. This creates new questions for urban governance: what elements of public life are private processes, and how can they be balanced with the benefits of sharing to create public goods, such as health and education? Cities are currently on the cusp of understanding the breadth of applications and potential of digital data for governance and functionality in urban space: city governments are likely to become an important hub for data exchange in the future, and to form part of the emerging international data market. How can city governments make informed choices about the kinds of infrastructures they set up, how can they understand the longer-term implications of those choices, and how do different infrastructures and processes to do with data build differing relationships between cities and citizens?

“Creating Smart Cities” workshop videos: Session 1

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!

OPENING TALK

Reframing, reimagining and remaking smart cities
Rob Kitchin, Maynooth University

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.

SESSION  1 “GOVERNANCE AND REGULATION”

1. Governing the City as a System of Systems
James Merricks White, Maynooth University

Abstract
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

Abstract

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

Abstract
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!