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’.
Claudio Coletta, Liam Heaphy and Rob Kitchin have published a new working paper (No. 28) – From the accidental to articulated smart city: The creation and work of ‘Smart Dublin’.
While there is a relatively extensive literature concerning the nature of smart cities in general, the roles of corporate actors in their production, and the development and deployment of specific smart city technologies, to date there have been relatively few studies that have examined the situated practices as to how the smart city as a whole unfolds in specific places. In this paper, we chart the smart city ecosystem in Dublin, Ireland, and examine how the four city authorities have actively collaborated to progressively frame and mobilise an articulated vision of Dublin as a smart city. In particular, we focus on the work of ‘Smart Dublin’, a shared unit established to coordinate, manage and promote Dublin’s smart city initiatives. We argue that Smart Dublin has on the one hand sought to corral smart city initiatives within a common framework, and on the other has acted to boost the city-region’s smart city activities, especially with respect to economic development. Our analysis highlights the value of undertaking a holistic mapping of a smart city in formation, and the role of political and administrative geographies and specialist smart city units in shaping that formation.
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!
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.
For our next event in the seminar series, we have invited Dr Aksel Ersoy from Oxford Brooks University to present his research on smart city infrastructures. He is Lecturer in Urban Geography in the Department of Social Sciences and focuses his research on the social and economic transformations of metropolitan cities.
Join us on Wednesday 8 March from 3pm to 5pm for his talk in Room 2.31, Iontas Building. More details about the talk can be found in the abstract below. Hope to see many of you!
The issues of global environmental change and sustainability have now been on the agendas of research institutions, government departments and civil society organisations for a number of years. While the implications of the transnational and global characteristics of environmental problems continue to be integral to policymaking, government and governance, increasing attention is being directed at the necessity and scope for local action. Within urban studies, the multiple interlinkages between infrastructure domains has become crucial as interconnectedness and interdependencies of infrastructure networks provoke thinking about how urban policy shifts towards more resource efficient and resilient cities via enabling more integrative forms of co-management of urban infrastructure. Cities are wrestling with the inadequacies and inefficiencies of embedded and legacy infrastructure systems, while at the same time being presenting with a range of new opportunities and possibilities created by developments in digital technologies. The latter are currently signified by reference to the (imminent) arrival of the “smart city”, although this is a term which is used in diverse ways. This presentation explores local smart city practices, with a particular concern for governance and whether smart is explicitly understood as a vehicle for capitalising upon unexploited infrastructure interdependencies or dealing with the products of established siloed thinking about infrastructure.
The first Smart Dublin Advisory Network meeting took place on the 12th October in the Mansion House. The plan is for the network to meet every six months to help guide the work of Smart Dublin as it develops and implements its strategy and programmes. The first meeting mainly focused on introducing Smart Dublin and undertaking some initial workshop exercises to brainstorm initial ideas and feedback and to do so preliminary backcasting. The first task was a quick introduction and for each person to say in one word a quality they hoped Smart Dublin would fulfil. Here’s a list of those aspirational words – which I have grouped into triplets – a list against which to judge over the next few years how successful Smart Dublin has been.
Connectivity Networking Integrated
Collaborative Cooperation Sharing
People Community Engagement
Well-being Safe Quality-of-life
Accessible Sustainable Diversity
Data Insight Problem-solving
Strategic Joined-up Agile
Transformative Future-proofing International
Innovation Start-ups Testing
Socio-technical Curiosity Easy
Interestingly, efficiency, economy and open – which are three of the four key terms that have to date underpinned Smart Dublin’s work (along with engagement) – were not suggested. Personally, I think it’s a fascinating list in terms of what it prioritizes as key attributes of a successful smart city and it would be interesting to compare this list to other lists produced by stakeholder groups in other cities. A brief post about the advisory board meeting and the Smart Dublin showcase that followed its first meeting can be found here.