Category Archives: events

Video: Data Politics and Internet of Things

In November 2016, CONNECT, The Programmable City and Maynooth University Social Science Institute (MUSSI) invited a panel of international and local experts from different disciplines to explore the broader political, economic and social implications of Internet of Things.

The panel included Linda Doyle (Trinity College Dublin), Anne Helmond (University of Amsterdam), Aphra Kerr (Maynooth University), Rob Kitchin (Maynooth University), Liz McFall (Open University) and Alison Powell (LSE). The video of the presentations by the panel members and also the discussion afterwards are available to view now.

For more details of the event, please see Science Gallery Dublin’s event page here, or here for a workshop organised for earlier in the day.

“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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Seminar video: Revealing experimental smart cities

Dr. Federico Cugurullo gave a seminar on October 26th, 2016 entitled Revealing experimental smart cities: The Frankenstein city and the sustainability challenges of de-composed urbanism. Dr. Cugurullo is Assistant Professor in Smart and Sustainable Urbanism, Department of Geography, Trinity College Dublin. If you missed the seminar, here is the video for his talk:

“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?