Paper: The Real-Time City? Big Data and Smart Urbanism

The first published output of the Programmable City project was a working paper by Rob Kitchin, presented at the ‘Smart Urbanism: Utopian Vision or False Dawn’ workshop at the University of Durham, 20-21 June 2013, and published on the Social Science Research Network.


‘Smart cities’ is a term that has gained traction in academia, business and government to describe cities that, on the one hand, are increasingly composed of and monitored by pervasive and ubiquitous computing and, on the other, whose economy and governance is being driven by innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship, enacted by smart people. This paper focuses on the former and how cities are being instrumented with digital devices and infrastructure that produce ‘big data’ which enable real-time analysis of city life, new modes of technocratic urban governance, and a re-imagining of cities. The paper details a number of projects that seek to produce a real-time analysis of the city and provides a critical reflection on the implications of big data and smart urbanism.

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