Tag Archives: ethics

New book: The Right to the Smart City

Right to the smart city coverFriday was publication day for ‘The Right to the Smart City‘ book edited by Paolo Cardullo, Cesare Di Feliciantonio and Rob Kitchin published by Emerald. The book is the outcome of the fourth international workshop hosted by the Programmable City project and focuses on the interrelationship of smart cities, rights, citizenship, social justice, commons, civic tech, participation and ethics. It includes chapters by Katharine Willis, Jiska Engelbert, Alberto Vanolo, Michiel de Lange, Catherine D’Ignazio, Eric Gordon, Elizabeth Christoforetti, Andrew Schrock, Sung-Yueh Perng, Gabriele Schliwa, Nancy Odendaal, Ramon Ribera-Fumaz, and the three editors.

1.    Citizenship, Justice and the Right to the Smart City. Rob Kitchin, Paolo Cardullo, Cesare Di Feliciantonio

Part 1: Citizenship and the commons

2.    Whose right to the smart city?
Katharine Willis

3.    Reading the neoliberal smart city narrative: The political potential of everyday meaning making.
Jiska Engelbert

4.    Playable urban citizenship: Social justice and the gamification of civic life.
Alberto Vanolo

5.    The right to the datafied city: Interfacing the urban data commons.
Michiel de Lange

6.    Smart commons or a ‘smart approach’ to the commons?
Paolo Cardullo

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

Part 2: Civic engagement, participation and the right to the smart city

8.    Sensors and civics: Towards a community-centred smart city.
Catherine D’Ignazio, , Eric Gordon and Elizabeth Christoforetti

9.    What is civic tech? Defining a practice of technical pluralism.
Andrew Schrock

10.    Hackathons and the practices and possibilities of participation.
Sung-Yueh Perng

11.    Smart cities by design? Interrogating design thinking for citizen participation.
Gabriele Schliwa

12.    Appropriating ‘big data’: exploring the emancipatory potential of the data strategies of civil society organisations in Cape Town, South Africa.
Nancy Odendaal

13.    Moving from smart citizens to technological sovereignty?
Ramon Ribera-Fumaz

14.    Towards a genuinely humanizing smart urbanism.
Rob Kitchin

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.

Abstract
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

Download paper

New paper: The ethics of smart cities and urban science

A new paper by Rob Kitchin has been published in Philosophical Transactions A titled ‘The ethics of smart cities and urban science’ in a special issue on ‘The ethical impact of data science’.

Abstract

Software-enabled technologies and urban big data have become essential to the functioning of cities. Consequently, urban operational governance and city services are becoming highly responsive to a form of data-driven urbanism that is the key mode of production for smart cities. At the heart of data-driven urbanism is a computational understanding of city systems that reduces urban life to logic and calculative rules and procedures, which is underpinned by an instrumental rationality and realist epistemology. This rationality and epistemology are informed by and sustains urban science and urban informatics, which seek to make cities more knowable and controllable. This paper examines the forms, practices and ethics of smart cities and urban science, paying particular attention to: instrumental rationality and realist epistemology; privacy, datafication, dataveillance and geosurveillance; and data uses, such as social sorting and anticipatory governance. It argues that smart city initiatives and urban science need to be re-cast in three ways: a re-orientation in how cities are conceived; a reconfiguring of the underlying epistemology to openly recognize the contingent and relational nature of urban systems, processes and science; and the adoption of ethical principles designed to realize benefits of smart cities and urban science while reducing pernicious effects.

The paper is behind a paywall, so if you don’t have access and you’re interested in reading email Rob (rob.kitchin@nuim.ie) and he’ll send you a copy.

Two invited talks in Boston on smart cities

Rob Kitchin gave two invited talks in Boston last week concerning Programmable City research.

The first was at UMass Boston, sponsored by APA-MA, BSA, MAPC, MAPD, MACDC, BRA, Mel King Institute, and was entitled ‘Planning in the era of smart urbanism.  The slides for the talk can be found at: http://www.slideshare.net/robkitchin/planning-in-an-era-of-smart-urbanism

The second was at the launch of MIT’s new Institute for Data, Systems and Society and was entitled ‘Ethics and risks of urban big data and smart cities’. The slides for the talk can be found at: http://www.slideshare.net/robkitchin/the-ethics-and-risks-of-urban-big-data-and-smart-cities  A video of the event can be found at: https://idss2016.mit.edu/

New paper: Urban data and city dashboards: Six key issues

Rob Kitchin and Gavin McArdle have published a new Programmable City working paper (no. 21) – Urban data and city dashboards: Six key issues – on SocArXiv today.  It is a pre-print of a chapter that will be published in Kitchin, R., Lauriault, T.P. and McArdle, G. (eds) (forthcoming) Data and the City. Routledge, London..

Abstract

This chapter considers the relationship between data and the city by critically examining six key issues with respect city dashboards: epistemology, scope and access, veracity and validity, usability and literacy, use and utility, and ethics.  While city dashboards provide useful tools for evaluating and managing urban services, understanding and formulating policy, and creating public knowledge and counter-narratives, our analysis reveals a number of conceptual and practical shortcomings.  In order for city dashboards to reach their full potential we advocate a number of related shifts in thinking and praxes and forward an agenda for addressing the issues we highlight.  Our analysis is informed by our endeavours in building the Dublin Dashboard.

Key words: dashboards, cities, access, epistemology, ethics, open data, scope, usability, utility, veracity, validity

Opening up smart cities: A report on the Smart City Expo World Congress

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Web Summit in Dublin, a large, tech entrepreneur event (my observations on the event are posted here).  This week I spent three days at the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona, another event that considered how technology is being used to reshape social and economic life, but which had a very different vibe, a much more mixed constituency of exhibitors and speakers (a mix of tech companies, consultants, city administrations/officials, politicians, NGOs, and academics; over 400 cities sent representatives and 240 companies were present, and there were over 10,000 attendees), and for the most part had a much more tempered discourse.  We presented our work on the Dublin Dashboard and the use of indicators in knowing and governing cities, attended the congress (keynote talks, plenary panels, and parallel paper sessions) and toured round the expo (a trade fair made up mostly of company and city stands).  I thought it would be useful to share my observations with respect to the event and in particular some of the absences. Continue reading