Category Archives: publications

Bridging the adoption gap for smart city technologies

A new open access piece has been published in IEEE Pervasive Computing, an in-depth interview of Rob Kitchin by Katja Schechtner (MIT). The interview discusses how different groups (mainly architects and planners and electronic engineers and computer scientists) have different understandings of cities, and why cities are sometimes reluctant to adopt smart city solutions and how that adoption gap might be closed.

 

 

New paper: Hackathons, entrepreneurship and the passionate making of smart cities

Sung-Yueh Perng, Robk Kitchin and Darach Mac Donncha draw on their various hackathon experiences, including mentoring and winning!, to present you a close-up look of these tech and ‘innovation’ events. The working paper shared here examines how these events extend the passions for digital innovation and entrepreneurship and act as sites of social learning for the development of smart urbanism. If you are interested, the abstract below provides more detail. Or, you can find the working paper using the link: https://osf.io/nu3ec. If you have any thoughts or comments, do share with us!

 

Abstract

Hackathons – quick prototyping events for commercial purposes – have become an important means to foster innovation, entrepreneurship and the start-up economy in smart cities. Smart and entrepreneurial cities have been critiqued with respect to the neoliberalization of governance and statecraft. We consider the passions, inventions and imitations in the assemblage of practices – alongside neoliberalizing and capitalist operations – that shape the economy and governance of smart cities. The paper examines hackathons as tech events that extend the passions for digital innovation and entrepreneurship and act as sites of social learning for the development of smart urbanism. We argue that passionate and imitative practices energize the desire and belief in entrepreneurial life and technocratic governance, and also engender precarious, ambiguous and uncertain future for participants and prototypes.

New paper: Living Labs, vacancy, and gentrification

Paolo Cardullo and Rob Kitchin have published a new working paper: ‘Living Labs, vacancy, and gentrification‘ on SocArXiv. It was prepared for the ‘The New Urban Ruins: Vacancy and the Post-Crisis City’ workshop, 1-3 March 2017, Trinity College Dublin.

Abstract
This paper evaluates smart city (SC) initiatives in the context of re-using vacant property. More specifically, we focus on living labs (LL) and vacancy in general, as well as on their potential role in fostering creative economy-fuelled gentrification. LL utilise Lo-Fi technologies to foster local digital innovation and support community-focused civic hacking, running various kinds of workshops and engaging with local citizens to co-create digital interventions and apps aimed at ‘solving’ local issues. Five approaches to LL are outlined and discussed in relation to vacancy and gentrification: pop-up initiatives, university-led activities, community organised venues/activities, citizen sensing and crowdsourcing, and tech-led regeneration initiatives. Notwithstanding the potential for generating temporary and independent spaces for transferring and fostering digital competences and increasing citizens’ participation in the SC, we argue that LL largely foster a form of participation framed within a model of civic stewardship for ‘smart citizens’. While presented as horizontal, open, and participative, LL and civic hacking are often rooted in pragmatic and paternalistic discourses and practices related to the production of a creative economy and a specific version of SC. As such, by encouraging a particular kind of re-use of vacant space, LL potentially contributes to gentrification pressures within locales by attracting the creative classes and new investment. We discuss these approaches and issues generally and with respect to examples in Dublin, Ireland.

Key words: vacancy, property, gentrification, living labs, civic hacking, creative class, regeneration

Download the paper

New paper: Smart cities, urban technocrats, epistemic communities and advocacy coalitions

 

Rob Kitchin, Claudio Coletta, Leighton Evans, Liam Heaphy and Darach MacDonncha have published a new working paper:  ‘Smart cities, urban technocrats, epistemic communities and advocacy coalitions‘ on on SocArXiv. It has been prepared for the ‘A New Technocracy’ workshop,University of Amsterdam, March 20-21 2017.

Abstract
In this paper, we argue that the ideas, ideals and the rapid proliferation of smart city rhetoric and initiatives globally have been facilitated and promoted by three inter-related communities. A new set of ‘urban technocrats’ – chief innovation/technology/data officers, project managers, consultants, designers, engineers, change-management civil servants, and academics – many of which have become embedded in city administrations.  A smart cities ‘epistemic community’; that is, a network of knowledge and policy experts that share a worldview and a common set of normative beliefs, values and practices with respect to addressing urban issues, and work to help decision-makers identify and deploy technological solutions to solve city problems.  A wider ‘advocacy coalition’ of smart city stakeholders and vested interests who collaborate to promote the uptake and embedding of a smart city approach to urban management and governance.  We examine the roles of new urban technocrats and the multiscale formation and operation of a smart cities epistemic community and advocacy coalitions, detailing a number of institutional networks at global, supra-national, national, and local scales. In the final section, we consider the translation of the ideas and practices of the smart city into the policies and work of city administrations. In particular, we consider what might be termed the ‘last mile problem’ and the reasons why, despite a vast and active set of technocrats and epistemic community and advocacy coalition, smart city initiatives are yet to become fully mainstreamed and the smart city mission successfully realized in cities across the globe. We illustrate this last mile problem through a discussion of plans to introduce smart lighting in Dublin.

Key words: smart cities, epistemic community, advocacy coalition, technocrats, urban governance, city administration, smart lighting

The paper can be downloaded here

 

New book: Understanding Spatial Media

USM3A new book, Understanding Spatial Media, edited by Rob Kitchin, Tracey Lauriault and Matt Wilson has been published by Sage. The book started life as a conversation at the launch of the Programmable City project. It includes 22 chapters detailing forms of spatial media and their consequences, including discussions of the geoweb, neogeography, volunteered geographic information, locative media, spatial big data, surveillance, privacy, openness, transparency, etc.  Here’s the back cover blurb:

“Over the past decade, a new set of interactive, open, participatory and networked spatial media have become widespread.  These include mapping platforms, virtual globes, user-generated spatial databases, geodesign and architectural and planning tools, urban dashboards and citizen reporting geo-systems, augmented reality media, and locative media.  Collectively these produce and mediate spatial big data and are re-shaping spatial knowledge, spatial behaviour, and spatial politics.

Understanding Spatial Media brings together leading scholars from around the globe to examine these new spatial media, their attendant technologies, spatial data, and their social, economic and political effects.

The 22 chapters are divided into the following sections:

  • Spatial media technologies
  • Spatial data and spatial media
  • The consequences of spatial media

Understanding Spatial Media is the perfect introduction to this fast emerging phenomena for students and practitioners of geography, urban studies, data science, and media and communications.”

Contributors: Britta Ricker, Jeremy Crampton, Mark Graham, Jim Thatcher, Jessa Lingel, Shannon Mattern, Stephen Ervin, Dan Sui, Gavin McArdle, Muki Haklay, Peter Pulsifer, Glenn Brauen, Harvey Miller, Teresa Scassa, Leighton Evans, Sung-Yueh Perng, Mary Francoli, Mike Batty, Francisco Klauser, Sarah Widmar, David Murakami Wood, and Agnieszka Leszczynski.

Thanks to Lev Manovich for permission to use an image from the On Broadway project for the cover.

Details about the book can be found here.

Rob Kitchin

New paper: The (in)security of smart cities: vulnerabilities, risks, mitigation and prevention

Rob Kitchin and Martin Dodge have published a new Programmable City working paper (No. 24), ‘The (in)security of smart cities: vulnerabilities, risks, mitigation and prevention‘ on SocArXiv.

Abstract:  In this paper we examine the current state of play with regards to the security of smart city initiatives. Smart city technologies are promoted as an effective way to counter and manage uncertainty and urban risks through the effective and efficient delivery of services, yet paradoxically they create new vulnerabilities and threats, including making city infrastructure and services insecure, brittle, and open to extended forms of criminal activity. This paradox has largely been ignored or underestimated by commercial and governmental interests or tackled through a technically-mediated mitigation approach. We identify five forms of vulnerabilities with respect to smart city technologies, detail the present extent of cyberattacks on networked infrastructure and services, and present a number of illustrative examples. We then adopt a normative approach to explore existing mitigation strategies, suggesting a wider set of systemic interventions (including security-by-design, remedial security patching and replacement, formation of core security and computer emergency response teams, a change in procurement procedures, and continuing professional development). We discuss how this approach might be enacted and enforced through market-led and regulation/management measures, and examine a more radical preventative approach to security.

Keywords: crime, cyberattacks, mitigation, risk, security, smart cities, urban resilience

Download here