Tag Archives: citizenship

New paper on collaborative urban infrastructuring

Sung-Yueh Perng has published a new working paper entitled Practices and politics of collaborative urban infrastructuring: Traffic Light Box Artworks in Dublin Streets, as part of the Programmable City Working Paper series.

Paper Abstract
Cities are transformed into sites of experimentation through large-scale smart city initiatives, but the visions and practices of establishing public, private and civic partnerships are often overshadowed by corporate interests, governance convenience and efficiency, with an overemphasis on technological innovations. Instead of relying on these partnerships, civic hacking initiatives seek to develop collaboration between programmers and community members, on the one hand, and government officials and organisations, on the other, for experimenting prototyping processes that foreground community needs. These initiatives are considered as pursuing open, inclusive and collaborative governance and is analysed through the lens of collaborative urban infrastructuring to attend to the dynamics, consequences and implications emerging from the prototyping processes. The analysis of the collaboration between Code for Ireland and Dublin City Council Beta suggests that the spatio-temporal scaling of prototypes lead to the continual and contested scaling of skills, knowledges, capabilities, organisational procedures and socio-technical arrangements. These heterogeneous scaling engenders desirable futures and future problems. The articulation and enactment of the values that attract diverse visions, viewpoints and practices into collaborative experimentation can be challenged by agonistic relationships arising from exploring practical arrangements for the mutual shaping of desirable governance procedures and the organisational expectations, obligations and constraints that are already in place. Furthermore, in the processes of scaling, there are constant dangers of enacting patriarchal stewardships and taking an all-knowing position for caring and evaluating impacts, which makes it critical to also experiment with ways of disclosing urban techno-politics that emerges continuously and in unanticipated ways.

If you are interested, full working paper can be found here: https://osf.io/2xpq7

Workshop: The Right to the Smart City: Citizenship, Civic Participation, Urban Commons and Co-Creation

The 4th annual Programmable City workshop takes place next week (5-6 Sept) at Maynooth University. This year’s theme is the right to the smart city, exploring ideas of citizenship, civic participation, social justice, urban commons and co-creation. We’re very much looking forward to welcoming our speakers and guests and to listening to the papers and engaging in discussion. The event is already at capacity, but as with previous years we will be videoing all the talks and will make them available on the Progcity website in due course.

Introduction: Rob Kitchin, The Right to the Smart City.

Session 1: Citizenship and the Smart City
Katharine Willis (Plymouth, UK), Ava Fatah (UCL, UK), Ana Baltazar (UFMG, Brazil) & Satyarupar Shekhar (CAG, India): Whose Right to the Smart City?

Jiska Engelbert (Erasmus, Rotterdam): Whose right to (define) the smart city? Extending our critical pointers beyond citizen participation

Réka Pétercsák & Mark Maguire (Maynooth): Participation in the Smart City: An Ethnographic Study of Citizen Engagement in Dublin

Cesare Di Feliciantonio (Maynooth): Against the romance of the smart community. The case of Milano 4 You.

Session 2: Urban Commons
Ramon Ribera-Fumaz (UoC, Barcelona): Citizens for Digital Social Innovation: Between Smartness and Commoning?

Michiel de Lange (Utrecht, Netherlands): Datafying the commons: data publics and smart citizenship

Paolo Cardullo (Maynooth): Smart Commons or a smart approach to the Commons?

Session 3: Co-creation and city governance
Nancy Odendaal (Cape Town, South Africa): Appropriating ‘big data’: exploring the emancipatory potential of the data strategies of civil society organisations in Cape Town, South Africa

Anna Davies (TCD): Smart flows? Commodification, commons and consumption for smarter cities

Robert Bradshaw (Maynooth): Democratic Rationalizations in the Bikeshare Sector

Session 4: Public labs, citizen-centric living labs, citizen science
Tara Whelan (Limerick): Matters of fact and matters of concern: issues of legitimacy, trust and resistance in citizen science

Gabriele Schliwa (Manchester, UK): Smart cities by design? Interrogating human-centred design as a tool for civic participation

Claudio Coletta & Caspar Menkman (Maynooth): Calculating publics and citizenship distributed sensing

Session 5: Shared city making (civic hacking, civic media)
Andrew Schrock (Chapman, USA): Toward an Actual Theory of the City: “Civic Tech” as a Mid-Level, Organic Model of Urban Change

Catherine D’Ignazio, Eric Gordon & Elizabeth Christoforetti (Emerson, USA): Participatory Urban Sensing: a Blueprint for a Community-led Smart City

Sung-Yueh Perng (Maynooth): Civic technology, social innovation and the reshaping of smart cities

New paper: Being a ‘citizen’ in the smart city: Up and down the scaffold of smart citizen participation

Paolo Cardullo and Rob Kitchin have published a new working paper (No. 30) – Being a ‘citizen’ in the smart city: Up and down the scaffold of smart citizen participation.


This paper critically appraises citizens’ participation in the smart city. Reacting to critiques that the smart city is overly technocratic and instrumental, companies and cities have reframed their initiatives as ‘citizen-centric’. However, what ‘citizen-centric’ means in practice is rarely articulated. We draw on and extend Sherry Arnstein’s seminal work on participation in planning and renewal programmes to create the ‘Scaffold of Smart Citizen Participation’ – a conceptual tool to unpack the diverse ways in which the smart city frames citizens. We then use this scaffold to measure smart citizen inclusion, participation, and empowerment in smart city initiatives in Dublin, Ireland. Our analysis illustrates how most ‘citizen-centric’ smart city initiatives are rooted in stewardship, civic paternalism, and a neoliberal conception of citizenship that prioritizes consumption choice and individual autonomy within a framework of state and corporate defined constraints that prioritize market-led solutions to urban issues, rather than being grounded in civil, social and political rights and the common good. We conclude that significant normative work is required to rethink ‘smart citizens’ and ‘smart citizenship’ and to remake smart cities if they are to truly become ‘citizen-centric’.


Data and the City workshop, Session 1 videos

Thank you to everyone who attended our 2015 workshop Data and the City in early September. It was a fantastic event. Over the next few days we will make the video recordings of the presentations available online.

Here is the introduction to the workshop and the first session, Critically Framing Data.

Opening talk

Data-driven, networked urbanism

Rob Kitchin, NIRSA, Maynooth University

For as long as data have been generated about cities various kinds of data-informed urbanism have been occurring. In this paper, I argue that a new era is presently unfolding wherein data-informed urbanism is increasingly being complemented and replaced by data-driven, networked urbanism. Cities are becoming ever more instrumented and networked, their systems interlinked and integrated, and vast troves of big urban data are being generated and used to manage and control urban life in real-time. Data-driven, networked urbanism, I contend, is the key mode of production for what have widely been termed smart cities. In this paper I provide a critical overview of data-driven, networked urbanism and smart cities focusing in particular on the relationship between data and the city (rather than network infrastructure or computational or urban issues), and critically examine a number of urban data issues including: the politics of urban data; data ownership, data control, data coverage and access; data security and data integrity; data protection and privacy, dataveillance, and data uses such as social sorting and anticipatory governance; and technical data issues such as data quality, veracity of data models and data analytics, and data integration and interoperability. I conclude that whilst data-driven, networked urbanism purports to produce a commonsensical, pragmatic, neutral, apolitical, evidence-based form of responsive urban governance, it is nonetheless selective, crafted, flawed, normative and politically-inflected. Consequently, whilst data-driven, networked urbanism provides a set of solutions for urban problems, it does so within limitations and in the service of particular interests.

Session 1: Critically Framing Data

Provenance and Possibility: Critically Framing Data

Jim Thatcher, ssistant Professor, Division of Urban Studies, University of Washington – Tacoma

‘Big data’s’ boosters present a mythology wherein it is perpetually new, pushing ever-forwards towards bigger and better representations of the world. Similarly, the vision of the “smart city” is inevitably an ahistorical imaginary of data-intense urban planning and coordination. Data sources, actually existing data, appear in the literature as uncritical, pre-existing, and decontextualized representations of the world to be exploited in service to a techno-utopian urban. The sources of data, its provenance, recede into a technical issue: one in a litany of hurdles to be overcome through austere, computational methodologies. Such technical approaches to provenance efface the intentionality of data creators. They leave out the inscription of meaning that goes into data objects as socio-technical, emergent indicators at urban scales and instead seats them as objective reality. Using a critical data studies approach, this paper connects and contextualizes the conditions of data’s production with its potential uses in the world. Data provenance, the where, how, and from whom data is produced, is intrinsically linked to how it comes to (re)present the world. This exploration serves as the first steps in developing a schema that includes mobile devices, municipal services, and other categories and tie that to the historical ideologies through which these technologies emerged in urban contexts.

Where are data citizens?

Evelyn Ruppert, Professor, Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London

If we increasingly know, experience and enact cities through data then we need to understand who are the subjects of that data and the space of relations they occupy. The development of the Internet of Things (IoT) means phones, watches, dishwashers, fridges, cars, and many other devices are always already connected to the Internet and generating enormous volumes of data about movements, locations, activities, interests, encounters, and private and public relationships. It also means that conduct is being governed through myriad arrangements and conventions of the Internet. What does this mean for how data subjects become data citizens? If indeed through the act of making claims data subjects become citizens how do we understand the spaces of this becoming? Challenging a separation between ‘real’ space and ‘virtual’ space, I define cyberspace as a space of social struggles: a space of transactions and interactions between and among bodies acting through the Internet. How these struggles are part-and-parcel of the constitution of the programmable city is the critical framing that I take up in this paper.

Unfortunately no video recording of this paper was made. Audio should be made available shortly.

Data cultures, power and the city

Jo Bates, Lecturer in Information Politics and Policy, Information School, University of Sheffield

How might we come to know a city through data? As citizens, policy makers, academics and businesses turn increasingly to data analytics in an effort to gain insight into and manage cities, this paper argues that rather than seeking to find the truth of cities in their data, we might better illuminate the flows of power and influence in the contemporary urban environment through close critical examination of these emerging, intersecting local data cultures and practices.

What value and relevance do local data cultures see in emergent data practices? How do they come to influence and shape them? What are their hopes, aspirations, concerns and fears? What tensions and struggles are emerging? Where and how do these local practices intersect with one another? How are they embedded within and responding to developments in national and transnational data practices, infrastructures and flows?

Through focusing on the complex and contested “assemblages” of political, economic, social and cultural processes that data production and flow are embedded in, and recognising local data practices as specific articulations of social relations situated within time and space, what can we learn about our cities and how they are situated within the global flows of capital and power in the early 21st century?

This paper will begin to address these questions using illustrative examples drawn from empirical research findings.

The remainder of the videos will be released on our website in coming weeks. If you just can’t wait, you can check them out now on our Vimeo account.