Author Archives: Claudio Coletta

“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!

Seminar: “Understanding Human Behavior, the Environment and Our Cities Through Measurement & Analysis” by Marguerite Nyhan

We are delighted to have Dr. Marguerite Nyhan as a guest speaker on Tuesday 11th October at 4pm, Iontas Building, room 2.31 for the first of our Programmable City seminars this academic year 2016/17.

Dr. Marguerite Nyhan is a Post-Doctoral Researcher at Harvard University, based in the Department of Environmental Health. Prior to her current appointment, she led the Urban Environmental Research Team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Senseable City Laboratory. Marguerite holds a PhD in Civil & Environmental Engineering from Trinity College Dublin. During her PhD, she was a Fulbright Scholar at MIT. Marguerite has spoken widely about her research including addressing the United Nations Environment Assembly in Kenya, and TEDx Dublin. She has also lectured in the Department of Urban Studies & Planning at MIT.

Marguerite will be talking about modeling and predicting interactions between human populations, urban systems, the natural environment and the built environment.

ProgCity_Seminar_1-2016_MaggieNyhan

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.

Seminar: “Smartcontracts and smartcities, displacing power through authentication?”

We are delighted to have Dr. Gianluca Miscione as a guest speaker on Wednesday 18th May at 3pm, Iontas Building, room 2.31 for the fourth of our Programmable City seminars this year.

Gianluca Miscione joined the group of Management Information Systems at the School of Business of University College Dublin in June 2012. Previously, he worked as Assistant Professor in Geo-Information and Organization at the Department of Urban and Regional Planning and Geo-Information Management, Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation, University of Twente, Netherlands. He received his Ph.D. in Information Systems and Organization from the Sociology Department of the University of Trento, in collaboration with the Sociology Department of Binghamton University New York and the School of International Service of American University in Washington DC. While at the Department of Informatics of the University of Oslo, he broadened his research on information infrastructures on the global scale. Gianluca conducted and contributed to research in Europe, Latin America, India, East Africa, and on the Internet. The focus remained on the interplay between technologies and organizing processes with a specific interest on innovation, development, organizational change and trust.

Gianluca will be talking about organizing processes related to automation of authentication in “smart contracts” exploring what novel forms of ‘sociation’ smart contracts entangle with.

ProgCity_Seminar_2016_1_GM

Unpacking Dublin as an emergent smart city

The Smart Dublin (SD) initiative has been promoted by Dublin City Council in collaboration with the other three local authorities of the Dublin city region to identify “open challenges” and to “drive innovation and collaboration in the development of new urban solutions, using open data and with the city region as a test bed”. (1)

Since its commencement in June 2015, the Smart Dublin initiative has conducted four one-day workshops with the employees from each local authority (Dublin City Council, Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, Fingal County Council, South Dublin County Council) to draw on their practical knowledge of the challenges facing the Dublin region, as well as to note all the existing cases of smart city technologies and practices in each area for a new website, SmartDublin.ie, explaining Dublin’s merits as a Smart City and the challenges ahead.

From June to December of 2015, a number of case studies (2) and challenges have been collected and identified, and then further studied by Prog City project researchers to create case study texts for SmartDublin.ie. The ‘soft launch’ of SmartDublin.ie was on the 5th of October 2015 with a number of these case studies, and the final, more complete, website will be launched on the 8th of March, 2016, at Dublin City Hall.

Wow! Tickets for @smartdublin launch event snapped up in a few hours.We want you there!Last few tickets click here https://t.co/C7UhD0UGgX

— SmartDublin (@smartdublin) February 19, 2016

SD intends to act as a driver and connector for a step-change, coordinative transformation in Dublin’s smart city policies, moving from an approach based on the ‘creative city’ and entrepreneurism towards a larger emphasis on service delivery and efficiency, although keeping the link with start-ups and open innovation processes as well as developing different forms of procurement and the deployment of smart technology in an urban setting.

In particular, a specific form of procurement, called “procurement by challenge”, has been adopted by SD from Citymart, a consultancy agency located in Barcelona. Traditionally, procurement is based on identifying both problem and its solution, and then tendering for the chosen solution. In contrast, “Procurement by Challenge” is based upon, firstly, identifying problems as “open challenges to entrepreneurs and citizens”, and secondly, seeking the solutions themselves using this process, awarding the actual development contract to the team which came up with the best solution. (3)

Thus conceived, SD is at the centre of various events and projects occurring in Dublin since autumn 2015 (Web Summit, SD soft launch, Open Agile Smart Cities seminar, Future of Cities seminar, Smart City tour, Smart District etc.). Its mandate is to provide a platform for smart city governance and innovation in order to make Dublin a global player in smart cities and the Internet of Things, while coping at the same time with the limited role of the public sector in urban transformation due to the recent recession and related austerity drive and the commensurate need to reduce the costs of public services.

The new ‘smart city atmosphere’ created and promoted through SD shows the following interrelated features, marking a significant change in the how Dublin tackles governance and innovation:

  • a challenge-driven form of urban innovation: it reframes the procurement relations between public and private sector to mobilise resources focused on “problems instead of solutions” and to establish shared governance practices and standards;
  • a test-bedding approach: urban space becomes a distributed laboratory in which to test smart city technologies based on big data and the Internet of Things, creating test sites that might help solve challenges faced by Dublin; “allowing to explore smart city solutions in a space small enough to trial and wide enough to prove”;
  • mutable scales: a shift from the Dublin city core to the Dublin city region scale as a joint endeavour of the four local authorities. This changes to the scale of “networked cities” when confronting with the global settings,  such as in the case of Open Agile Smart Cities.

A number of recently initiated ProgCity case study projects aim to explore how these changes affect Dublin urban space and management, starting from the settings where the new forms of procurement and test-bedding are generated and adopted

The objective is to understand how smart city management ideas circulate and interact with the adoption of smart technologies, thus shaping Dublin organizational, technological and everyday settings. Research will focus on different processes occurring in test-bed and procurement:

  • accidental smart urbanism through multiple co-existing, co-evolving and conflicting forms of algorithmic governance applied to traffic control, environmental monitoring and crowd management;
  • anticipation and demonstration as coordination devices and performative devices: how procurement and testbedding embody and enact anticipation and demonstration dynamics, how they interact with the spatial change of scale of Dublin and perform its specific material, social, cultural urban arrangements and finally how they make sense of accidental and fragmented smart city landscape.

Two other projects are looking at existing and emerging Smart City case studies in Dublin:

  • Real-Time Passenger Information (RTPI): this looks at the interaction between code and space resulting from the implementation of this technology into Dublin’s transport systems. This case study will seek to examine a real-world data assemblage in relation to how data flows interact with spatial flows;
  • Smart Districts: this work follows an emerging project that seeks to harness the large-scale urban developments in the Dublin Docklands as an exemplar for trialling smart technologies. This will look at how smart technologies become part of urban masterplanning in the context of a large urban development with many actors involved in planning and decision-making.

These two projects will examine real-world examples of transduction and translation; how the city interacts with code, each continually reshaping the other. In the case of RTPI, this is concerned with how code and physical movement interact, and in the case of Smart Districts, how urban space is co-configured with smart technologies.

Together, these projects will seek to unpack Dublin as an emerging ‘Smart City’, following how the concept itself takes form through the interplay of new technologies and new ways of procurement. Also, they will look at how urban big data are tested and used to regulate and shape the temporal and spatial dimension of urban space, as well as social relations.

Claudio Coletta, Liam Heaphy

References

(1) SD report “Local authority challenge identification workshops” (2015, unpublished).

(2) http://progcity.maynoothuniversity.ie/2015/12/dublin-as-a-smart-city/

(3) http://www.citymart.com