Tag Archives: smart city

Reflecting upon hackathons by their participants

Thomas James Lodato and Carl DiSalvo give a good overview of what hackathons are in their recent article:

Hackathons are rapid design and development events at which volunteer participants come together to conceptualize, prototype, and make (mostly digital) products and services.

Coupling with the rapid pace of conceptualising a product or service, prototyping and making do with limited time and resources during the event, is the competition with other teams for the prizes, ranging from cash rewards to a spot in an incubator programme that could potentially transform the initial idea at a hackathon into a startup success.

We often see coverage of the winning teams, their ideas and sometimes their presentations before the judging panel. However, we do not necessarily know how participants reflect upon their own experiences, problems they encounter along the way and adjustments to their goals and strategies under time pressure.

In this blogpost, we try to give a glimpse of these aspects by asking participants how and what they did in the Global Data Fest/Smart City Hackathon which took place in Dublin between 6 – 8 March, 2015. The videos were taken before the teams presented their ideas to the judges, which means they did not know who were going to win and thus the conversation was not about their ‘winning experiences’. Instead, the videos are about how they took into account of all sorts of challenges and the advice they received from the mentors to finish their project. In doing so, we also wish to create cultural memory for the participants and for one the various pursuits of transforming Dublin into a smart city.

Here they are!

Project: Life Tracking

Project: EmuLUX

Project: CityBuzz

Project: BikeRack

Project: Bintel

Project: BedCount

We thank the participants and also David Prendergast from Intel, who also gave a talk for our seminar series, for making the videos happen.


Cork as a smart region?

Back in December we posted about the extent to which Dublin can be considered a smart city.  In this post, we complement this with a similar analysis of Cork, which is seeking to become a smart region rather than city (utilising smart technologies across the city and the county).

In Cork a ‘smart agenda’ is being developed that builds on the existing assets, attributes and experiences in the region through the ‘Cork Smart Gateway’ initiative, which is a collaboration between the two local authorities and the Nimbus Research Centre (Internet of Things, networks) and Tyndall National Institute (ICT, microelectronic circuits, nanotechnology, energy, photonics). The aim is to leverage a quadruple helix innovation model where government, industry, academia and civil participants work together to co-create and drive structural change utilising ICT solutions. As well as a host of EU, SFI and enterprise projects, Cork is also home to the National Sustainable Building Energy Testbed, Water Systems and Service and Innovation Centre, and the Mallow Systems and Innovation Centre, and UCC is a lead partner of Insight and CONNECT.  A full range of projects is set out in Table 1.

In addition to these projects, Cork City Council is a follower City in a Smart Cities and Communities Horizon 2020 project called GrowSmarter, a €25m initiative (lead cities: Stockholm, Cologne, and Barcelona). GrowSmarter establishes three ‘lighthouses’ for smart cities which demonstrate to other cities how they can be prepared in an intelligent way for the energy challenges of the future. As part of this project, Cork will roll out initiatives in transport, energy, and information and communications technology. There are also a significant number of companies driving Internet of Things development in the region, for example, EMC and Vodafone have jointly invested €2m in a new INFINITE internet of things industrial platform that will traverse Cork.  There are also a range of ongoing research and pilot projects that have yet to be mainstreamed, and others that ran for a handful of years before terminating, plus there are a number of other smart city apps available developed by citizens and commercial enterprises.

Table 1: Smart Cork

Smart economy Energy Cork Cluster supporting collaboration and innovation in the energy sector
IT@Cork Cluster supporting collaboration and innovation in the ICT sector
TEC Gateway – part of Nimbus, CIT EI funded technology gateway supporting Irish industry to develop new IoT technologies
Rubicon Incubator – provides supports and capital investment for startups
Smart government City Council housing stock management Stock condition surveys and maintenance activities updated by smart technologies close to real time
Library digital services A suite of library apps for various services
Variable messaging signs Real time off-street parking and road closure information on key access routes to the city
Smart living Smart energy management Real-time monitoring and control of energy use and environmental characteristics for residential and commercial buildings; Secure management and prognostics networks for energy systems – EOS
Smart urban district energy Management Real-time monitoring and control of neighbourhoods (blocks of buildings) for sustainable energy use
Smart lighting Intelligent LED lighting networks
GreenCom Smart microgrid testbed that enables wireless monitoring/control of loads, microgeneration and microstorage energy elements
Smart mobility Coca Cola Zero Bikes Public Hire Bike Scheme
LeapCard Smart card access/payment for trains and buses
Real-time passenger information Real time bus and train information at stops
EV Infrastructure Deploy standard and fast charging points throughout the city
Smart environment Smart testbeds National Sustainable Energy Testbed (NSBET); Community Testbed – A regional community testbed with access to high-performance broadband facilities; Water Test-bed
River Lee deployment Real time wireless sensor river monitoring system looking at water quality and depth
Rainwater harvesting Remote monitoring of rainwater harvesting system in Sunview Fairhill
Smart water Sensor development and integration to support management of Fats, oils and greases in the waste water networks – FOGMON

Aquametrics – Single point monitoring of water networks

Mid-altitude security and environmental monitoring AEOLUS – Mid-altitude (400m) sensor platform combining HD cameras, metrological, Radar and AIS for coastal monitoring for security and environmental assessment
Smart people Maker Dojo Hands-on, ‘hacker’ style workshops
CorkCitiEngage A Cork Smart Gateway Survey Project. Public feedback on public issues, digital skills, and use of public infrastructure
CorkOpenData data.corkcity.ie – An online platform for publishing city information obtained from various sources, from sensors to surveys

Source: Compiled by the Cork Smart Gateway

Like Dublin then Cork lay claim to being a nascent smart city.  Similarly they are very much at the start of realising the ambition of becoming a smart region and over the next number of years the smart region landscape is likely to change quite substantially as new initiatives are rolled out and new technologies deployed.

Rob Kitchin

Thanks to Claire Davis and Cork Smart Gateway initiative for compiling the table, with was prepared for our recent report on smart cities, privacy and security.

How vulnerable are smart cities to cyberattack?

trafficSmart city solutions utilise complex, networked assemblages of digital technologies and ICT infrastructure to manage various city systems and services.  Any device that relies on software to function is vulnerable to being hacked.  If a device is networked, then the number of potential attack points multiples across the network, and the hack can be performed remotely (1). Once a single device is compromised, then the whole assemblage becomes vulnerable to cyberattacks that seek to ‘alter, disrupt, deceive, degrade or destroy computer systems and networks or the information and/or programs resident in or transiting these systems or networks’ (2).

There are three forms of cyberattack: availability attacks that seek to close a system down or deny service use; confidentiality attacks that seek to extract information and monitor activity; and integrity attacks that seek to enter a system to alter information and settings (such as changing settings so that components exceed normal performance, erasing critical software, or planting malware and viruses) (3).  The vulnerability of smart city systems is exacerbated by a number of issues including weak security and encryption; the use of insecure legacy systems and poor maintenance; large and complex attack surfaces and interdependencies; cascade effects; and human error and disgruntled (ex)employees (19).  The result is that the process of making city systems and infrastructures ‘smart’ has also made them vulnerable to a suite of cyber-threats (4,5,6).

Cyberattacks can target every type of smart city solution and particular system components. There are a number of weak points – including SCADA systems, the sensors and microcontrollers of the Internet of Things, and communication networks and telecommunication switches.

SCADA systems
Various forms of urban infrastructure, including the electricity grid, water supply, and traffic control, rely on SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems that are used to control functions and flow (4).  These systems measure how an infrastructure is performing in real-time and enable either automated or human operator interventions to change settings.  SCADA systems can be traced back to the 1920s, but were extensively rolled out in the 1980s (12).  As a consequence, many deployments are quite dated.  Many have been found to operate with their original security codes (13).  In some cases, while the infrastructure is relatively secure, the communications network is vulnerable (4).  A number of SCADA systems have been compromised, with hackers altering how the infrastructure performs, or causing a denial-of-service, or have stolen data.  Probably the most infamous SCADA hack was the 2009 Stuxnet attack on Iran’s uranium enrichment plant in which the system was infected by malware that destroyed a number of centrifuges by running them beyond their design specifications (12).  By 2010 over 90,000 Stuxnet infections were reported in 115 countries (5).

Internet of Things
The Internet of Things refers to the connecting together of machine-readable, uniquely identifiable objects across the Internet.  Some objects are passive and can simply be scanned or sensed (such as smart cards with embedded RFID chips used to access buildings and transport systems).  Others are more active and include microcontrollers and actuators.  All kinds of objects that used to be dumb, such as fridges, thermostats and lights, are now becoming networked and smart, generating information about their use and becoming controllable from a distance.  Moreover, sensors can be embedded into the urban fabric and throughout critical infrastructures to produce data concerning ‘location, proximity, velocity, temperature, flow, acceleration, sound, vision, force, load, torque, pressure, and interactions’ (13).  Sensors and microcontrollers are hackable as they often have little effective security, encryption, or privacy protocols in place.  RFID chips, for example, can be hacked, jammed and spoofed (13).

Communication networks and telecommunication switches
The Internet of Things are linked together via a number of communications technologies and protocols such as 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution), GSM (Global System for Mobile communication), CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access), WiFi, bluetooth, RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification), NFC (Near-Field Communication), ZigBee (open wireless standard), and Z-Wave (wireless communication).  Each of the modes of networking and transferring data are known to have security issues that enable data to be intercepted and provide access to devices.  Likewise, telecommunication switches that link together the local and long distance Internet infrastructure are known to have vulnerabilities including manufacturer and operator back-door security access and access codes that are infrequently updated (4).

Transport management systems and vehicles
There have been a number of cyberattacks on transport management systems in recent years, as well as proof-of-concept demonstrations of possible attacks.  For example, a cyberattack on a key toll road in Haifa, Israel, closed it for eight hours causing major traffic disruption (9).  A research team from the University of Michigan managed to hack and manipulate more than a thousand traffic lights in one city using a laptop and wireless radio (15).  Likewise, IOActive Labs have hacked traffic control sensors widely used around the world and altered traffic light sequencing and interactive speed and road signs (16).  A teenager in Lodz, Poland, managed to hack the city tram switches, causing four trams to derail and injuring a number of passengers (1, 13).  In the US, air traffic control systems have been hacked, FAA servers seized, the personal information of 58,000 workers stolen, and malicious code installed on air traffic networks (13).  Vehicles themselves are also open to being hacked given that a new car contains up to 200 sensors connected to around 40 electronic control units and can connect to wireless networks.  A recent Wired article details how two hackers were able to remotely hack a car through its Internet computer that controls entertainment and navigation systems, facilitates phone calls and can provide a wifi hotspot, using it as a route to replace firmware that enabled them to take control of the car’s internal computer network.  The hackers could then take over the driving of the car from over 10 miles away, turning the driver into a passenger (17).

Electricity grid and smart meters
The generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity are monitored and controlled using SCADA systems (12).  In addition, the electricity grid consists of a range of other networked devices.  In the case of the US energy grid over 70 percent of components are over 25 years old, including many SCADA systems (13).  Given the potential cascade effects of shutting down the electricity grid, it has been a key point of cyberattack. Electricity grid utilities in the US report being under near constant cyberattack, with one utility recording that it was the target of approximately 10,000 cyberattacks each month (all five commissioners of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission agree that the threat of a cyber-attack on the electric grid is the top threat to electricity reliability in the United States) (8).  The Israel Electric Corp. reports that its servers register about 6,000 unique computer attacks every second, with other critical infrastructure also under continuous cyberattack (9).  As smart grids and smart meters are installed, the number of potential access points to grid networks increases enormously (12).  Smart meters themselves can be hacked with low-cost tools and readily available software to alter proof of consumption or to steal energy from other users (1, 14).

Building management systems
Building management systems are often considered an aspect of property services rather than IT services and cybersecurity is not a key issue in purchase or operation (18).  The consequence is weakly protected systems, often still configured with manufacturer codes.  Moreover manufacturers often do not have processes in place for responding to vulnerabilities or a notification process to inform customers about security threats (18).  The vulnerabilities of building management systems pose two main threats.  The first is that if they are hacked building operations could be disrupted and safety risks created.  The second is that they provide a potential route for breaking into enterprise business systems and critical company data if they share the same network.  In the case of the Target data breach in which over 100 million customer details were stolen it appears that the retailer did not properly segment its data network, with hackers gaining access through the company that maintained its heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system (18).

Cities are full of a plethora of CCTV cameras; some owned and controlled privately, others by public authorities and police services.  The security of these cameras is highly variable, with some lacking encryption or usernames and passwords, and others open to infection by malware and firmware modification (20).  Accessing a camera provides a means to spy on individuals, such as viewing home presence or using a bank ATM camera to monitor the digits being pressed.  Demonstrating the scale of the issue, one website provides access to the feeds of thousands of unsecured or poorly secured cameras (uses admin passwords) from 152 countries (21).  Cameras can also be turned off, with some lacking the function to be restarted remotely (19).

Many cyberattacks are relatively inconsequential, such as probes and address scans, and are unsuccessful, while a small number are much more significant and involve a security breach.  In a 2014 study of 599 utility, oil and gas, energy and manufacturing companies nearly 70 percent reported at least one security breach that led to the loss of confidential information or disruption of operations in the previous 12 months; 78 percent expected a successful attack on their ICS (industrial control systems) or SCADA systems in the next two years (10).  In 2012, 23 gas pipeline companies were hacked and source code and blueprints to facilities stolen (7).  Between 2010 and 2014, the US Department of Energy (that oversees the US power grid, nuclear arsenal, and national labs) documented 1,131 cyberattacks, of which 159 were successful (11).  In 53 cases these attacks were ‘root compromises’, meaning that the attackers gained administrative privileges to computer systems, stealing various kinds of personnel and operational information (11).

Cyberattacks can be performed by hostile nations, terrorist groups, cyber-criminals, hacker collectives, and individual hackers.  Former FBI director, Robert Mueller, details that 108 nations have cyberattack units, targeting critical infrastructure and industrial secrets (13).  The majority of attacks are presently being repulsed using cybersecurity tools, or their effects have been disruptive or damaging but not critical for the long term delivery of services (3).  Indeed, it needs to be recognised that to date, successful cyberattacks on cities are still relatively rare and when they have occurred their effects generally last no more than a few hours or involve the theft of data rather than creating life threatening situations.  That said, it is clear that there is a cybersecurity arms race underway between attackers and defenders, and that more severe disruption of critical infrastructure has been avoided through the threat of mutually assured destruction between nations (22).  This is not to suggest that smart city initiatives should be avoided, but rather that the cybersecurity challenges of creating secure smart cities should be taken seriously.  It is likely that cyberattacks will increase over time, they will become more sophisticated, and that they have the potential to cause significant disruption to city services and the wider economy and society (5).

(1)    Nanni, G. (2013) Transformational ‘smart cities’: cyber security and resilience. Symantec, Mountain View, CA. https://eu-smartcities.eu/sites/all/files/blog/files/Transformational%20Smart%20Cities%20-%20Symantec%20Executive%20Report.pdf (last accessed 12 October 2015)
(2)    Owens, W.A., Dam, K.W. and Lin, H.S.  (eds) (2009) Technology, Policy, Law, and Ethics Regarding U.S. Acquisition and Use of Cyberattack Capabilities.  Committee on Offensive Information Warfare, National Research Council, National Academic Press, Washington DC.
(3)    Singer, P.W. and Friedman, A. (2014) Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know.  Oxford University Press, Oxford.
(4)    Singh, I.B. and Pelton, J.N. (2013) Securing the Cyber City of the Future.  The Futurist http://www.wfs.org/futurist/2013-issues-futurist/november-december-2013-vol-47-no-6/securing-cyber-city-future (last accessed 19 Oct 2015)
(5)    Townsend, A. (2013) Smart Cities: Big data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia.  New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
(6)    Peters, S. (2015) Smart Cities’ 4 Biggest Security Challenges, 1st July, InformationWeek: Dark Reading, http://www.darkreading.com/vulnerabilities—threats/smart-cities-4-biggest-security-challenges/d/d-id/1321121 (last accessed 21 Sept 2015)
(7)    Perlroth, N. (2015) Online Attacks on Infrastructure Are Increasing at a Worrying Pace.  Bits, New York Times, October 14th, http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/10/14/online-attacks-on-infrastructure-are-increasing-at-a-worrying-pace/ (last accessed 16th October 2015).
(8)    Markey. E.J. and Waxman, H.A. (2013) Electric grid vulnerability: Industry Response Reveal Security Gapshttp://www.markey.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Markey%20Grid%20Report_05.21.131.pdf (last accessed 15 Nov 2015)
(9)    Paganini, P. (2013) Israeli Road Control System hacked, caused Traffic jam on Haifa Highway.  Hacker News. October 28, 2013 http://thehackernews.com/2013/10/israeli-road-control-system-hacked.html (last accessed 29 Nov 2015)
(10)    Prince, B. (2014) Almost 70 Percent of Critical Infrastructure Companies Breached in Last 12 Months: Survey.  Security Week, July 14th.  http://www.securityweek.com/almost-70-percent-critical-infrastructure-companies-breached-last-12-months-survey
(11)    Reilly, S. (2015) Records: Energy Department struck by cyber attacks, USA Today, Sept 11th. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/09/09/cyber-attacks-doe-energy/71929786/
(12)    The Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress (2014) Securing the U.S. Electric Grid.  Washington DC https://www.thepresidency.org/sites/default/files/Final%20Grid%20Report_0.pdf (last accessed 15 Nov 2015)
(13)    Goodman, M. (2015) Future Crimes: A Journey to the Dark Side of Technology – and How to Survive It.  Bantam Press, New York.
(14)    Krebs (2012) FBI: Smart Meter Hacks Likely to Spread, April 9th, Krebs on Security. http://krebsonsecurity.com/2012/04/fbi-smart-meter-hacks-likely-to-spread/ (last accessed 21 Sept 2015)
(15)    Leitner, T. and Capitanini, L. (2014) New Hacking Threat Could Impact Traffic Systems. NBC Chicago. http://www.nbcchicago.com/investigations/series/inside-the-new-hacking-threat/New-Hacking-Threat-Could-Impact-Traffic-Systems-282235431.html (last accessed 19 Oct 2015)
(16)    Cerrudo, C. (2014) Hacking US (and UK, Australia, France, etc.) Traffic Control Systems, IOActive Blog, April 30th 2014 http://blog.ioactive.com/2014/04/hacking-us-and-uk-australia-france-etc.html (last accessed 12 Oct 2015)
(17)    Greenburg, A. (2015) Hackers Remotely Kill a Jeep on the Highway—With Me in It.  Wired 21st July 2015. http://www.wired.com/2015/07/hackers-remotely-kill-jeep-highway/ (last accessed 16th Oct 2015)
(18)    Vijayan, J. (2014) With the Internet of Things, smart buildings pose big risk. Computer World, May 13th. http://www.computerworld.com/article/2489343/security0/with-the-internet-of-things–smart-buildings-pose-big-risk.html (last accessed 13 Nov 2015)
(19)    Cerrudo, C. (2015) An Emerging US (and World) Threat: Cities Wide Open to Cyber Attacks. Securing Smart Cities, http://securingsmartcities.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/CitiesWideOpenToCyberAttacks.pdf (last accessed 12 October 2015).
(20)    Brewster, T. (2014) Smart or stupid: will our cities of the future be easier to hack?  The Guardian, May 21st.  http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2014/may/21/smart-cities-future-stupid-hack-terrorism-watchdogs (last accessed 21 Nov 2015)
(21)    Cox, J. (2014) This Website Streams Camera Footage from Users Who Didn’t Change Their Password.  Motherboard, Oct 31st. http://motherboard.vice.com/read/this-website-streams-camera-footage-from-users-who-didnt-change-their-password (last accessed 22 Nov 2015)
(22)    Rainie, L., Anders, J. and Connolly, J. (2014) Cyber Attacks Likely to Increase.  Digital Life in 2025, Pew Research Center.  http://www.pewinternet.org/files/2014/10/PI_FutureofCyberattacks_102914_pdf.pdf (last accessed 19 Oct 2015)

Dublin as a smart city?

The soft launch of Smart Dublin, a website showcasing the city’s foray into becoming a smart city, was launched in October.  It has been accompanied by the four local authorities actively collaborating on a Smart Dublin strategy and the coordination of various smart city initiatives.

The Smart Dublin vision consists of a mix of data-driven, networked infrastructure, fostering economic growth and entrepreneurship, and citizen-centric initiatives, with a particular focus on creating more efficient city services, improving transportation flows, tackling flooding, attracting inward investment and encouraging indigenous start-ups and SMEs, and opening data and encouraging civic engagement.  Initiatives concerning security and policing, which are more prominent in UK and US cities where terrorism is seen as more of a threat, are less of a priority.

Beyond the ambition and rhetoric of Smart Dublin, to what extent is Dublin already a smart city?  An audit of the four Dublin local authorities (Dublin City Council, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, South Dublin County Council, Fingal County Council) reveals a relatively large number of mainstreamed smart city initiatives (see Table 1).

Table 1: Smart Dublin

Smart  economy


Provides access to city datasets, including some real-time data feeds

Digital Hub

Cluster of digital content and technology enterprises; provides space, infrastructure and support services for digital tech companies

Startup commissioner

Advocates for tech start-ups; organises events and support schemes


Provides support and capital investment for start-ups; runs/sponsors hackathons


Cleantech cluster supporting and developing the green economy



A website and app for reporting issues (e.g. vandalism, dumping, potholes) to local authorities

Public realm operations map

An interactive map that reports scheduled public works

CRM workflow

Customer relations management system used to interface with the public and undertake workflow planning

Library digital services

A suite of library apps for various services

Smart mobility

Intelligent transport system

A suite of different technologies including SCATS (transduction loops at junctions), CCTV, ANPR (automatic number plate recognition cameras), detection of breaking red lights at Luas (tram) lines, feeding into a centralised traffic control room

Eflow road tolling

Automated roll tolling/billing using transponders

Fleet management

GPS tracking of local authority fleets and route optimisation


Smart card access/payment for trains, buses and trams.

Real-time Passenger Information

Digital displays at bus and tram stops and train stations providing information on the arrival/departure time of services

Smart parking

Transponder payment system; park-by-text; display around city; API feed

display signs

Traffic (crash/delay) alerts; speeding display signs

Bliptracker displays

Bike counters; car parking spaces counters; airport queue counters

Dublin Bikes

Public hire bike scheme


Sensor flood monitoring

Use of sensor network to monitor river levels by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and local authorities

Air pollution monitoring

EPA network of pollution sensors

Public building energy use

Real-time monitoring of energy use in local authority buildings; publicly displayed on screens

Big Belly Bins

Networked compactor bins that use sensors to monitor levels; waste collection route optimisation

Smart living

Street CCTV

Network of digital interactive CCTV cameras (alter direction/zoom)

Community CCTV

Network of CCTV in public places (e.g. parks); provides SMS alerts; can communicate through speakers in lampposts

Sonitus sound sensing

Network of sound sensors monitoring noise levels

Monitored sheltered housing

Remote monitoring of movement sensors and panic buttons in sheltered homes

Smart Stadium

Sensor network monitoring different facets of stadium use

Smart people

Dublin Dashboard

Comprehensive set of interactive graphs and maps of city data, including real-time data, as well location-based services

Fingal Open Data

Local authority open data sets

Map Alerter

Real-time alerts for weather and flooding


Consultation and deliberation tool for planning and development


Consultation and deliberation tool for planning and development


Civic hacking meetups

Code for Ireland

Civic hacking coding meetups

This table only includes operational, rolled-out initiatives procured or co-developed with local authorities, plus selected citizen initiatives.

Unlike other places, where smart cities are being built from the ground up, the Smart Dublin initiatives in Table 1 are building on top of legacy infrastructure and many decades of social and economic programmes.  As such, smart city initiatives and technologies have to be layered on top of long-standing systems and schemes, and be accommodated within or replace existing organisational structures.

Beyond the initiatives in Table 1, there is a whole raft of smart city apps available; some provided/commissioned by local authorities (e.g. Art Trax, Heritage Walks, Mindmindr), others developed by citizens and commercial enterprises (e.g. Hit the Road, Parkya, Walk Dublin).  Moreover, there are a range of ongoing research and pilot projects that have yet to be mainstreamed, and others that ran for a handful of years before terminating. Further, beyond the economic development organisations listed in Table 1, there is a fairly well developed ecosystem of ‘university-industry-local government’ smart city research centres and collaborations (including ‘The Programmable City’ (implications of creating smart cities), ‘Innovation Value Institute’ (business models for smart city technologies), ‘Insight’ (data analytics for smart cities), ‘CONNECT’ (networking and comms for smart cities), ‘Future Cities’ (sensor, communication and analytical technological solutions for sustainability), ‘Dublin Energy Lab’ (smart grids and meters) and some industry centres (e.g. IBM’s smart city global research team) and test-beds (especially relating to the Internet of Things).  Organisations such as Codema and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) undertake smart energy/grid projects and provide advice and guidance.

In short, Dublin can lay claim to being a nascent smart city, rather than simply trying to become one.  However, it is very much at the start of realising the ambition of the Smart Dublin strategy and the form of smart city it will become is still very much open to influence.

Claudio Coletta, Liam Heaphy, Rob Kitchin

New paper: The Praxis and Politics of Building Urban Dashboards

A new working paper by Rob Kitchin, Sophia Maalsen and Gavin McArdle – The Praxis and Politics of Building Urban Dashboards – has been published on SSRN as Programmable City Working Paper 11.  The abstract runs thus:

This paper critically reflects on the building of the Dublin Dashboard — a website that provides citizens, planners, policy makers and companies with an extensive set of data and interactive visualizations about Dublin City, including real-time information — from the perspective of critical data studies. The analysis draws upon participant observation, ethnography, and an archive of correspondence, to unpack the building of the Dashboard and the emergent politics of data and design. Our findings reveal four main observations. First, a dashboard is a complex socio-technical assemblage of actors and actants that work materially and discursively within a set of social and economic constraints, existing technologies and systems, and power geometries to assemble, produce and maintain the website. Second, the production and maintenance of a dashboard unfolds contextually, contingently and relationally through transduction. Third, the praxis and politics of creating a dashboard has wider recursive effects: just as building the dashboard was shaped by the wider institutional landscape, producing the system inflected that landscape. Fourth, the data, configuration, tools, and modes of presentation of a dashboard produce a particularised set of spatial knowledges about the city. We conclude that rather than frame dashboard development in purely technical terms, it is important to openly recognize their contested and negotiated politics and praxis.

Download the paper

dubdashboard may 15

New paper: Solutions, Strategies and Frictions in Civic Hacking

A new paper by Sung-Yueh Perng and Rob Kitchin – Solutions, Strategies and Frictions in Civic Hacking  – has been published on SSRN as Programmable City Working Paper 10.  The abstract runs thus:

Through the development and adoption of technical solutions to address city issues the smart city seeks to create effortless and friction-free environments and systems. Yet, the design and implementation of such technical solutions are friction-rich endeavours which produce unanticipated consequences and generate turbulence that foreclose the creation of friction-free city solutions. In this paper we argue that a focus on frictions is important for understanding civic hacking and the role of social smart citizens, providing an account of frictions in the development of a smart city app. The empirical study adopted an ethnographically informed mobile methods approach to follow how frictions emerge and linger in the design and production of a queuing app developed through civic hacking. In so doing, the paper charts how solutions have to be worked up and strategies re-negotiated when a shared motivation meets differing skills, perspectives, codes or designs; how solutions are contingently stabilised in technological, motivational, spatiotemporal and organisational specificities rather than unfolding in a smooth, linear, progressive trajectory.

Download the PDF