Author Archives: Rob Kitchin

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.


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.

New book: Creating Smart Cities

csc coverCreating Smart Cities, edited by Claudio Coletta, Leighton Evans, Liam Heaphy, Rob Kitchin, has been published by Routledge in their Regional Studies Association ‘Region and Cities’ series. It contains a selection of chapters originating from our third Progcity workshop.

In cities around the world, digital technologies are utilized to manage city services and infrastructures, to govern urban life, to solve urban issues and to drive local and regional economies. While “smart city” advocates are keen to promote the benefits of smart urbanism – increased efficiency, sustainability, resilience, competitiveness, safety and security – critics point to the negative effects, such as the production of technocratic governance, the corporatization of urban services, technological lock-ins, privacy harms and vulnerability to cyberattack.

This book, through a range of international case studies, suggests social, political and practical interventions that would enable more equitable and just smart cities, reaping the benefits of smart city initiatives while minimizing some of their perils.

Included are case studies from Ireland, the United States of America, Colombia, the Netherlands, Singapore, India and the United Kingdom. These chapters discuss a range of issues including political economy, citizenship, standards, testbedding, urban regeneration, ethics, surveillance, privacy and cybersecurity.


1. Creating smart cities – Rob Kitchin, Claudio Coletta, Leighton Evans and Liam Heaphy

PART I The political economy of smart cities

2. A Digital Deal for the smart city: Participation, protection, progress – Jathan Sadowski

3. Politicising smart city standards – James Merricks White

4. Urban revitalization through automated policing and “smart” surveillance in Camden, New Jersey – Alan Wiig

5. Can urban “miracles” be engineered in laboratories? Turning Medellín into a model city for the Global South – Félix Talvard

6. Building smart city partnerships in the “Silicon Docks” – Liam Heaphy and Réka Pétercsák

7. Towards a study of city experiments – Brice Laurent and David Pontille

8. University campuses as testbeds of smart urban innovation – Andrew Karvonen, Chris Martin and James Evans

PART II Smart cities, citizenship and ethics

9. Who are the end-use(r)s of smart cities? A synthesis of conversations in Amsterdam – Christine Richter, Linnet Taylor, Shazade Jameson and Carmen Pérez del Pulgar

10. ‘Cityzens become netizens’: Hashtag citizenships in the making of India’s 100 smart cities – Ayona Datta

11. From smart cities to smart citizens? Searching for the ‘actually existing smart citizen’ in Atlanta, Georgia – Taylor Shelton and Thomas Lodato

12. Promises, practices and problems of collaborative infrastructuring: The case of Dublin City Council (DCC) Beta and Code for Ireland – Sung-Yueh Perng

13. Smart for a reason: Sustainability and social inclusion in the sharing city – Duncan McLaren and Julian Agyeman

14. Pseudonymisation and the smart city: Considering the General Data Protection Regulation – Maria Helen Murphy

15. The privacy parenthesis: Private and public spheres, smart cities and big data – Leighton Evans

16. The challenges of cybersecurity for smart cities – Martin Dodge and Rob Kitchin

PART III Conclusion

17. Reframing, reimagining and remaking smart cities – Rob Kitchin

New book: Digital Geographies

digital geographies book coverDigital Geographies, edited by James Ash, Rob Kitchin and Agnieszka Leszczynski, has been published by Sage.  The book provides an overview of how digital technologies have become part of everyday life, mediating tasks such as work, travel, consumption, production, and leisure, and are having increasingly profound effects on phenomena that are of immediate concern to geographers. These include: the production of space, spatiality and mobilities; the processes, practices, and forms of mapping; the contours of spatial knowledge and imaginaries; and, the formation and enactment of spatial knowledge politics  Similarly, there are distinct geographies of digital media such as those of the internet, games, and social media that have become indispensable to geographic practice and scholarship across sub-disciplines, regardless of conceptual approach. The book is divided into five sections.

Table of contents

Chapter 1 Introducing Digital Geographies – James Ash, Rob Kitchin and Agnieszka Leszczynski

PART 1 Digital Spaces
Chapter 2 Spatialities – Agnieszka Leszczynski
Chapter 3 Urban – Andres Luque-Ayala
Chapter 4 Rural – Martin Dodge
Chapter 5 Mapping – Matthew W Wilson
Chapter 6 Mobilities – Tim Schwanen

PART 2 Digital Methods
Chapter 7 Epistemologies – Jim Thatcher
Chapter 8 Data and Data Infrastructures – Rob Kitchin and Tracey Lauriault
Chapter 9 Qualitative Methods and Geohumanities – Meghan Cope
Chapter 10 Participatory Methods and Citizen Science – Hilary Geoghegan
Chapter 11 Cartography and Geographic Information Systems – David O’Sullivan
Chapter 12 Statistics, Modelling and Data Science – Daniel Arribas-Bel

PART 3 Digital Cultures
Chapter 13 Media and Popular Culture – James Ash
Chapter 14 Subject/ivities – Sam Kinsley
Chapter 15 Representation and Mediation – Gillian Rose

PART 4 Digtial Economies
Chapter 16 Labour – Mark Graham and Mohammad Anwar
Chapter 17 Industries – Matt Zook
Chapter 18 Sharing Economy – Lizzie Richardson
Chapter 19 Traditional Industries – Bruno Moriset

PART 5 Digital Politics
Chapter 20 Development – Dorothea Kleine
Chapter 21 Governance – Rob Kitchin
Chapter 22 Civics – Taylor Shelton
Chapter 23 Ethics – Linnet Taylor
Chapter 24 Knowledge Politics – Jason C Young
Chapter 25 Geopolitics – Jeremy Crampton

New paper: Towards a genuinely humanizing smart urbanism

Rob Kitchin has published a new Programmable City working paper (No. 43) via OSF: Towards a genuinely humanizing smart urbanism. The paper is a modified, pre-print version of the closing chapter in the book ‘The Right to the Smart City’ edited by Paolo Cardullo, Cesare Di Feliciantonio and Rob Kitchin to be published by Emerald Publishing.


This paper considers, following David Harvey (1973), how to produce a genuinely humanizing smart urbanism. It does so through utilising a future-orientated lens to sketch out the kinds of work required to reimagine, reframe and remake smart cities. I argue that, on the one hand, there is a need to produce an alternative ‘future present’ that shifts the anticipatory logics of smart cities to that of addressing persistent inequalities, prejudice, and discrimination, and is rooted in notions of fairness, equity, ethics and democracy. On the other hand, there is a need to disrupt the ‘present future’ of neoliberal smart urbanism, moving beyond minimal politics to enact sustained strategic, public-led interventions designed to create more-inclusive smart city initiatives. Both tactics require producing a deeply normative vision for smart cities that is rooted in ideas of citizenship, social justice, the public good, and the right to the city that needs to be developed in conjunction with citizens.
Keywords: smart cities, citizenship, social justice, right to the city, future

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New paper: Citizenship, Justice and the Right to the Smart City

Rob Kitchin, Paolo Cardullo and Cesare Di Feliciantonio have published a new Programmable City working paper (No. 41) via OSF: Citizenship, Justice and the Right to the Smart City. The paper is a modified, pre-print version of the opening chapter in the book ‘The Right to the Smart City’ edited by Paolo Cardullo, Cesare Di Feliciantonio and Rob Kitchin to be published by Emerald Publishing.

This paper provides an introduction to the smart city and engages with its idea and ideals from a critical social science perspective. After setting out in brief the emergence of smart cities and current key debates, we note a number of practical, political and normative questions relating to citizenship, social justice, and the public good that warrant examination. The remainder of the paper provides an initial framing for engaging with these questions. The first section details the dominant neoliberal conception and enactment of smart cities and how this works to promote the interests of capital and state power and reshape governmentality. We then detail some of the ethical issues associated with smart city technologies and initiatives. Having set out some of the more troubling aspects of how social relations are produced within smart cities, we then examine how citizens and citizenship have been conceived and operationalised in the smart city to date. We then follow this with a discussion of social justice and the smart city. In the final section, we explore the notion of the ‘right to the smart city’ and how this might be used to recast the smart city in emancipatory and empowering ways.

Keywords: citizenship, social justice, smart cities, right to the city, ethics

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Final ‘official’ day of Progcity project and thanks

Today is the last funded day of the Progcity project. Hard to believe that is five years since we started the research. It’s been a very fruitful endeavour and has fostered some very productive collaborations between the 16 researchers who have worked on the project at some point during it’s lifetime, producing a rich array of empirical material and an extensive range of published outputs, numerous presentations, an archive of over 150 videos from our seminars and workshops, and the Dublin Dashboard. The work, of course, will not stop, with the doctoral students to submit their theses and more books and papers to be written, and we’ll continue to maintain this blog and social media. In due course we hope to archive all of the c.500 interviews we have conducted and other research material so that others can re-use and mine our data. In addition, the research helped form the basis for a new SFI-funded investigator project, Building City Dashboards.

The main thing I wish to do at this point is to put some thank yous on the record.

First, I would like to thank the whole Progcity team – all the doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers and Rhona, the project administrator, who kept us on the bureaucratic straight-and-narrow. It has been a real pleasure to work with and learn from you all – hopefully Progcity has contributed to positively to your future careers and will continue to do so. Also, thanks to Chris, Aphra and Leighton who have co-supervised the doctoral students and contributed to the research.

Second, thanks to all the folks who took part in our fieldwork and interviews for sharing their expertise, insights and time. The kind of in-depth case studies we have been undertaking can only yield valuable ideas and knowledge through the generosity of participants and it has been really fascinating to listen to and work with you all, and learn from and translate your experiences and viewpoints.

Third, thanks to all those who helped facilitate the research at different sites, especially the Smart Dublin team, who have been a tremendous help. Conducting fieldwork is always reliant on the aid and goodwill of many people and we’ve been very fortunate across all our sub-projects to receive sound advice and practical help.

Fourth, thanks to all the admin staff in MUSSI, the university and the ERC who have helped us to administer the project. Running large EU-funded projects comes with a fairly sizable bureaucratic overhead and we have benefited from useful feedback and help over the life of Progcity.

Fifth, I am very grateful to other researchers in the university and the broader academic community who have taken an interest in the Progcity project – attending our seminars and workshops and discussing our research at events and via email/social media. Research is always a collaborative effort of dialogue and exchange and we have been very fortunate to interact with a very generous set of scholars. Hopefully your own research, like ours, is richer from our encounters and we’ll continue to learn from each other.

I am sure I have missed folks out that deserve our gratitude, so apologies if that’s the case, but rest assured your contributions have been appreciated.

While ‘officially’ we have reached the end of the road for Progcity, there’s a lot more paths to travel yet, so please continue to stop by the site as we keep producing outputs stamped with the ‘This research was funded by an ERC advanced investigator award, The Programmable City (ERC-2012-AdG-323636).’

Rob Kitchin