Tag Archives: smart cities

New paper: Urban informatics, governmentality and the logics of urban control

Rob Kitchin, Claudio Coletta and Gavin McArdle have published a new Programmable City working paper (No. 25), ‘Urban informatics, governmentality and the logics of urban control ‘, on SocArXiv.

Abstract: In this paper, we examine the governmentality and the logics of urban control enacted through smart city technologies. Several commentators have noted that the implementation of algorithmic forms of urban governance that utilize big data greatly intensifies the extent and frequency of monitoring populations and systems and shifts the governmental logic from surveillance and discipline to capture and control.  In other words, urban governmentality is shifting from subjectification – molding subjects and restricting action – to modulating affects, desires and opinions, and inducing action within prescribed comportments.  We examine this contention through an examination of two forms of urban informatics: city dashboards and urban control rooms and their use in urban governance. In particular, we draw on empirical analysis of the governmental logics of the Dublin Dashboard, a public, analytical dashboard that displays a wide variety of urban data, and the Dublin Traffic Management and Incident Centre (TMIC) and its use of SCATS (Sydney Coordinated Adaptive Traffic System) to control the flow of traffic in the city.  We argue that there is no one governmentality being enacted by smart city technologies, rather they have mutable logics which are abstract, mobile, dynamic, entangled and contingent, being translated and operationalized in diverse, context-dependent ways.  As such, just as disciplinary power never fully supplanted sovereign power, control supplements rather than replaces discipline.


Download here

Seminar: “Digital Territories: Location Awareness and the Re-making of Political Space in Rio’s Favelas” by Andrés Luque-Ayala

We are delighted to have Dr. Andrés Luque-Ayala as a guest speaker on Wednesday 8th February at 3pm, Iontas Building, room 2.31 for the third of our Programmable City seminars this academic year 2016/17.

Dr. Andrés Luque-Ayala is a lecturer at Durham University, based in the Department of Geography. He has a broad background in academia, urban design and sustainability consultancy, with his research interests primarily focussed on climate change and smart cities.

He was a co-investigator in the RCUK-CONFAP International Network (UK-Brazil) Augmented urbanity and smart technologies, and will be presenting his research with Flávia Maia (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Urban Planning Dept.) on the digital mapping of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas in the context of the city’s ICT drive to become a leading ‘smart city’.

ProgCity_Seminar_4_3_ AndresLuque

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:

New paper: Algorhythmic governance: Regulating the ‘heartbeat’ of a city using the Internet of Things

Claudio Coletta and Rob Kitchin have published a new Programmable City working paper (No. 22) – Algorhythmic governance: Regulating the ‘heartbeat’ of a city using the Internet of Things – which is due to be delivered at the Algorithms in Culture workshop at the University of California Berkeley, 1-2 December 2016.

It can be downloaded from: OSF, ResearchGate, Academia


To date, research examining the socio-spatial effects of smart city technologies have charted how they are reconfiguring the production of space, spatiality and mobility, and how urban space is governed, but have paid little attention to how the temporality of cities is being reshaped by systems and infrastructure that capture, process and act on real-time data. In this paper, we map out the ways in which city-scale Internet of Things infrastructures, and their associated networks of sensors, meters, transponders, actuators and algorithms, are used to measure, monitor and regulate the polymorphic temporal rhythms of urban life. Drawing on Lefebvre (1992[2004]), and subsequent research, we employ rhythmanalysis in conjunction with Miyazaki’s (2012, 2013a/b) notion of ‘algorhythm’ and nascent work on algorithmic governance, to develop a concept of ‘algorhythmic governance’. We then use this framing to make sense of two empirical case studies: a traffic management system and sound monitoring and modelling. Our analysis reveals: (1) how smart city technologies computationally perform rhythmanalysis and undertake rhythm-work that intervenes in space-time processes; (2) three distinct forms of algorhythmic governance, varying on the basis of adaptiveness, immediacy of action, and whether humans are in, on-, of-, off-the-loop; (3) and a number of factors that shape how algorhythmic governance works in practice.

Key words: algorhythm, algorithmic governance, rhythmanalysis, Internet of Things, smart cities, time geography



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’.


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.

Post advertised: Postdoc on ProgCity project

We are seeking a postdoctoral researcher (14 month contract) to join the Programmable City project.  The researcher will critically examine:

  • the political economy of smart city technologies and initiatives; the creation of smart city markets; the inter-relation of urban (re)development and smart city initiatives; the relationship between vendors, business lobby groups, economic development agencies, and city administrations; financialization and new business models; and/or,
  • the relationship between the political geography of city administration, governance arrangements, and smart city initiatives; political and legal geographies of testbed urbanism and smart city initiatives; smart city technologies and governmentality.

There will be some latitude to negotiate with the principal investigator the exact focus of the research undertaken. While some of the research will require primary fieldwork (Dublin/Boston), it is anticipated it will also involve the secondary analysis of data already generated by the project.

More details on the post and how to apply can be found on the university HR website.  Closing date: 5th December.