Author Archives: Rob Kitchin

New paper: Conceptualising smart cities

A new paper by Rob Kitchin titled ‘Conceptualising smart cities’ has been published in Urban Research and Practice. It consider how best to define smart cities and asks whether it is time to decentre and move beyond smart urbanism.

Kitchin, R. (2022) Conceptualising smart cities. Urban Research and Practice 15(1): 155-159. doi: 10.1080/17535069.2022.2031143

Smart city cases – reading lists

I have been creating reading lists for case material on individual smart cities, or for countries/global regions, for one of my modules. I’m sharing as I thought they might be useful for others. If you have any suggestions to add to any section, or a set of readings relating to a city or region not included, please do add them in the comments or email them to me.

Dublin, Ireland

  • Cardullo, P. and Kitchin, R. (2019) Being a ‘citizen’ in the smart city: Up and down the scaffold of smart citizen participation in Dublin, Ireland. GeoJournal 84(1): 1-13.
  • Carvalho, L. and Otgaar, A. (2017) Dublinked (Dublin). In Carvalho, L., van der Berg, L., Galal, H. and Teunisse, P. (eds) Delivering Sustainable Competitiveness: Revisiting the Organising Capacity of Cities. Routledge, London.  pp. 41-60.
  • Coletta, C., Heaphy, L. and Kitchin, R. (2019) From the accidental to articulated smart city: The creation and work of ‘Smart Dublin’. European Urban and Regional Studies 26(4): 349–364
  • Coletta, C., Heaphy, L. and Kitchin, R. (2018) Actually-existing Smart Dublin: Exploring smart city development in history and context. In Karvonen, A., Cugurullo, F. and Caprotti, F. (eds) Inside Smart Cities: Place, Politics and Urban Innovation. Routledge. pp. 85-101.
  • Coletta, C. and Kitchin, R. (2017) Algorhythmic governance: Regulating the ‘heartbeat’ of a city using the Internet of Things. Big Data and Society 4: 1-16.
  • Heaphy, L. J. (2018, January 12). Interfaces and divisions in the Dublin Docklands ‘Smart District’. Programmable City Working Paper 37
  • Heaphy, L. and Pétercsák, R. (2018) Building smart city partnerships in the “Silicon Docks”
    In Coletta, C., Evans, L., Heaphy, L., and Kitchin, R. (eds) Creating Smart Cities. Oxon and New York: Routledge. pp. 76-89.
  • Kayanan, C. M., Eichenmüller, C. and Chambers, J. (2018). Silicon slipways and slippery slopes: techno-rationality and the reinvigoration of neoliberal logics in the Dublin Docklands. Space and Polity 22(1), 50–66.

Barcelona, Spain

  • Bria, F (2017) Barcelona digital government: Open, agile and participatory. Barcelona Digital City Blog. Available at:
  • Capdevila, I. and Zarlenga, M.I. (2015) Smart city or smart citizens? The Barcelona case. Journal of Strategy and Management 8(3): 266-282.
  • Calzada I. (2018) (Smart) Citizens from Data Providers to Decision-Makers? The Case Study of Barcelona. Sustainability 10(9): 32-52.
  • Charnock, G. March, H. and Ribera-Fumaz, R. (2021) From smart to rebel city? Worlding, provincialising and the Barcelona Model. Urban Studies 58(3): 581-600.
  • Lynch, CR (2020) Contesting digital futures: Urban politics, alternative economies, and the movement for technological sovereignty in Barcelona. Antipode 52(3): 660-680
  • March, H. and Ribera-Fumaz, R. (2016). Barcelona: From corporate smart city to technological sovereignty. In Karvonen, A., Cugurullo, F. and Caprotti, F. (eds) Inside Smart Cities: Place, Politics and Urban Innovation. Routledge. pp.
  • March, H. and Ribera-Fumaz, R. (2016). Smart contradictions: The politics of making Barcelona a self-sufficient city. European Urban and Regional Studies, 23(4): 816-830.
  • Smith, A. & Martín, P.P. (2021) Going Beyond the Smart City? Implementing Technopolitical Platforms for Urban Democracy in Madrid and Barcelona, Journal of Urban Technology 28(1-2): 311-330

Songdo, South Korea

  • Carvalho, L. (2012) Urban competiveness, U-city strategies and the development of technological niches in Songdo, South Korea. In Bulu, M. (ed) City competitiveness and improving urban subsystems. Information Science Reference, Hershey, PA. pp. 197-216.
  • Eireiner, A.V. (2021) Promises of Urbanism: New Songdo City and the Power of Infrastructure. Space and Culture. doi: 10.1177/12063312211038716
  • Halpern, O., LeCavalier, J., Calvillo, N. and Pietsch, W. (2013) Test-Bed Urbanism. Popular Culture 25(2): 272-306.
  • Kim, J.I. (2014) Making cities global: the new city development of Songdo, Yujiapu and Lingang. Planning Perspectives 29(3): 329-356
  • Kim, C. (2010) Place promotion and symbolic characterization of New Songdo City, South Korea. Cities 27(1): 13-19.
  • Shin, H., Park, S.H. and Sonn, J.W. (2015) The emergence of a multiscalar growth regime and scalar tension: the politics of urban development in Songdo New City, South Korea.  Environment and Planning C 33(6): 1618-1638.
  • Shin, H.B. (2017) Envisioned by the state: entrepreneurial urbanism and the making of Songdo City, South Korea. In Datta, A. and Shaban, A. (eds) Mega-urbanization in the Global South: Fast cities and new urban utopias of the postcolonial state. London: Routledge. pp. 83-100.
  • Shin, H.B., Zhao, Y. and Koh, S.Y. (2020): Whither progressive urban futures? City, doi: 10.1080/13604813.2020.1739925
  • Shwayri, S.T. (2013) A model Korean ubiquitous eco-city? The politics of making Songdo. Journal of Urban Technology 20(1): 39-55.

Toronto, Canada

  • Artyushina, A. (2020) Is civic data governance the key to democratic smart cities? The role of the urban data trust in Sidewalk Toronto. Telematics and Informatics 55
  • Carr, C. and Hesse, M. (2020). When Alphabet Inc. Plans Toronto’s Waterfront: New Post-Political Modes of Urban Governance. Urban Planning, 5(1), 69–83.
  • Flynn, A. and Valverde, M. (eds) (2020) Smart Cities in Canada: Digital Dreams, Corporate Designs. Lorimer, Toronto.
  • Goodman, E.P. and Powles, J. (2019) Urbanism under Google: Lessons from Sidewalk Toronto. Fordham Law Review 88(2): 457–498
  • Hodson, M. and McMeekin, A. (2021) Global technology companies and the politics of urban socio-technical imaginaries in the digital age: Processual proxies, Trojan horses and global beachheads. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space. doi: 10.1177/0308518X211002194.
  • Leszczynski, A. and Kong, V. (2022, online first), Gentrification and the an/aesthetics of digital spatial capital in Canadian “platform cities”. The Canadian Geographer
  • Mann, M, Mitchell, P, Foth, M, Anastasiu, I. (2020) #BlockSidewalk to Barcelona: Technological sovereignty and the social license to operate smart cities. Journal of the Association of Information, Science & Technology 71(9): 1103– 1115.
  • Robinson, P. and Coutts, S. (2019) The case of Quayside, Toronto, Canada. In Anthopoulos, L. (ed.) Smart City Emergence: Cases From Around the World. Elsevier, Amsterdam. pp. 333-350.
  • Tenney, M., Garnett, R. and Wylie, B. (2020), A theatre of machines: Automata circuses and digital bread in the smart city of Toronto. The Canadian Geographer 64(3): 388-401.
  • Zwick, A. and Spicer, A. (eds) (2021) The Platform Economy and the Smart City: Technology and the Transformation of Urban Policy. McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal and Kingston.The Platform Economy and the Smart City: Technology and the Transformation of Urban Policy. McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal and Kingston.


  • Allam, Z. (2020) Urban Governance and Smart City Planning: Lessons from Singapore. Emerald, Bingley.
  • Calder, K.E. (2016) Singapore: Smart City, Smart State. Brookings Institute, Washington DC.
  • Chang F., Das D. (2020) Smart Nation Singapore: Developing Policies for a Citizen-Oriented Smart City Initiative. In: Kundu D., Sietchiping R., Kinyanjui M. (eds) Developing National Urban Policies. Springer, Singapore. 425-440
  • Elm, J. and Carvalho, L.C. (2020) Best Practices to Become a Sustainable Smart City: The Case of Singapore.” In Sousa, P.I. and Carvalho, L.C. (eds) Conceptual and Theoretical Approaches to Corporate Social Responsibility, Entrepreneurial Orientation, and Financial Performance. IGI Global: Hershey, PA., pp. 247-265.
  • Ho, E. (2017) ‘Smart subjects for a Smart Nation? Governing (smart)mentalities in Singapore’, Urban Studies, 54(13), pp. 3101–3118.
  • Hoe, S.L. (2016) Defining a smart nation: the case of Singapore. Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society 14(4): 323-333.
  • Kong, L, Woods, O (2018) The ideological alignment of smart urbanism in Singapore: Critical reflections on a political paradox. Urban Studies 55(4): 679–701.
  • Yeo, S.J.I. (2022, online first) Smart urban living in Singapore? Thinking through everyday geographies. Urban Geography
  • Yu-Min Joo (2021, online first) Developmentalist smart cities? The cases of Singapore and Seoul, International Journal of Urban Sciences

Amsterdam, Netherlands

  • Ampatzidou, C., Bouw, M., van de Klundert, F., de Lange, M. and de Waal, M. (2015) The Hackable City: A Research Manifesto and Design Toolkit. Amsterdam Creative Industries Publishing, Amsterdam.
  • Capra, C. F. (2016). The Smart City and its Citizens: Governance and Citizen Participation in Amsterdam Smart City. International Journal of E-Planning Research 5(1): 20-38
  • Fitzgerald, M. (2016) Data-Driven City Management: A Close Look at Amsterdam’s Smart City Initiative. MIT Sloan Management Review 57(4)
  • Shazade, J., Richter, C. and Taylor, L. (2019) People’s strategies for perceived surveillance in Amsterdam Smart City. Urban Geography 40(10): 1467-1484
  • van Winden, W., Oskam, I., van der Buuse, D., Schrama, W. and van Dijck, E-J. (2016) Organising smart city projects: Lessons from Amsterdam. Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences.
  • Veenkamp, J., Kresin, F. and Kortlander, M. (2020) Smart citizens in Amsterdam. In Willis, K.S. and Aurigi, A. (eds) The Routledge Companion to Smart Cities. Routledge, London. pp.
  • Zandbergen, D. (2020) The Unfinished Lampposts: The (anti-)politics of the Amsterdam smart lighting project. City & Society 32(1): 135-156.

Boston, USA

  • Bevilacqua, C., Ou, Y., Pizzimenti, P. and Minervino, G. (2020) New Public Institutional Forms and Social Innovation in Urban Governance: Insights from the “Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics” (MONUM) in Boston. Sustainability 12(1): 23.
  • Brown, D. (2018) The Urban Commons: How Data ad Technology Can Rebuild Our Communities. Harvard University Press, Cambridge.
  • Goldsmith, S. and Crawford, S. (2014) The Responsive City: Engaging Communities Through Data-Smart Governance. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.
  • Kitchin, R. and Moore-Cherry, N. (2020, online first) Fragmented governance, the urban data ecosystem and smart cities: the case of Metropolitan Boston. Regional Studies doi: 10.1080/00343404.2020.1735627
  • Peacock S., Harlow J., Gordon E. (2020) Beta Blocks: Inviting Playful Community Exploration of Smart City Technologies in Boston, USA. In: Nijholt A. (eds) Making Smart Cities More Playable. Gaming Media and Social Effects. Springer, Singapore.

India smart cities

  • Basu, I. (2019). Elite discourse coalitions and the governance of ‘smart spaces’: Politics, power and privilege in India’s Smart Cities Mission. Political Geography 68: 77-85.
  • Chakrabarty, A (2019) Smart mischief: An attempt to demystify the Smart Cities craze in India. Environment and Urbanization 31(1): 193–208.
  • Das D.K., Sonar S.G. (2020) Exploring Dimensions and Elements for Smart City Development in India. In: Bandyopadhyay S., Pathak C., Dentinho T. (eds) Urbanization and Regional Sustainability in South Asia. Contemporary South Asian Studies. Springer, Cham. pp. 245-259
  • Datta, A. (2015) ‘New urban utopias of postcolonial India: ‘Entrepreneurial urbanization’ in Dholera smart city, Gujarat’, Dialogues in Human Geography, 5(1), pp. 3–22.
  • Datta, A. (2019) Postcolonial urban futures: Imagining and governing India’s smart urban age. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 37(3): 393-410.
  • Datta, A. (2020) The “Smart Safe City”: Gendered Time, Speed, and Violence in the Margins of India’s Urban Age, Annals of the American Association of Geographers
  • Hoelscher, K. (2016) ‘The evolution of the smart cities agenda in India’, International Area Studies Review, 19(1), pp. 28–44.
  • Parida, D. (2021, online first) Fantasy visions, informal urbanization, and local conflict: an evolutionary perspective on smart city governance in India. GeoJournal
  • Praharaj, S. and Han, H. (2019) Building a typology of the 100 smart cities in India. Smart and Sustainable Built Environment 8(5): 400-414.
  • Prasad, D., Alizadeh, T. and Dowling, R. (2021) Multiscalar Smart City Governance in India, Geoforum, 121: 173-180.
  • Prasad, D., Alizadeh, T. and Dowling, R. (2021, online first) Smart city place-based outcomes in India: bubble urbanism and socio-spatial fragmentation. Journal of Urban Design
  • Prasad, D., Alizadeh, T. (2020) What Makes Indian Cities Smart? A Policy Analysis of Smart Cities Mission. Telematics and Informatics 55
  • Willis, K.S. (2019), “Whose Right to the Smart City?”, Cardullo, P., Di Feliciantonio, C. and Kitchin, R. (Ed.) The Right to the Smart City, Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 27-41.

Latin American smart cities

  • Amar Flórez, D. (2016) International Case Studies of Smart Cities: Medellin, Colombia. Inter-American Development Bank.
  • Gaffney, C. and Robertson, C. (2018) Smarter than Smart: Rio de Janeiro’s Flawed Emergence as a Smart City. Journal of Urban Technology 25(3): 47-64.
  • Irazábal, C. and Jirón, P. (2021) Latin American smart cities: Between worlding infatuation and crawling provincializing. Urban Studies, 58(3), pp. 507–534.
  • Jirón, P., Imilan, W.A., Lange, C. and Mansilla, P. (2021) Placebo urban interventions: Observing Smart City narratives in Santiago de Chile. Urban Studies 58(3): 601–620.
  • Marchetti, D., Oliveira, R. and Figueira, A.R. (2019) Are global north smart city models capable to assess Latin American cities? A model and indicators for a new context. Cities 92: 197-207.
  • Przeybilovicz, E., Cunha, M.A., Macaya, J.F.M. and Porto De Albuquerque, J. (2018) A Tale of two ‘Smart Cities’: Investigating the Echoes of New Public Management and Governance Discourses in Smart City Projects in Brazil. 51st Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences.
  • Schreiner, C. (2016) International Case Studies of Smart Cities: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Inter-American Development Bank.
  • Smith, H., Medero, G., Crane De Narváez, S. and Castro Mera, W. (2022, online first) Exploring the relevance of ‘smart city’ approaches to low-income communities in Medellín, Colombia. GeoJournal
  • Talvard, F. (2019) Can urban “miracles” be engineered in laboratories? Turning Medellín into a model city for the Global South. In Coletta, C., Evans, L., Heaphy, L., and Kitchin, R. (eds) Creating Smart Cities. Oxon and New York: Routledge. pp. 62-75.
  • Tironi, M. and Valderrama, M. (2022, online first) Worth-making in a datafied world: Urban cycling, smart urbanism, and technologies of justification in Santiago de Chile. The Information Society

Chinese smart cities

  • Atha, K., Callahan, J., Chen, J., Drun, J., Green, K., Lafferty, B., McReynolds, J., Mulvenon, J., Rosen, B., Walz, E. (2020) China’s Smart Cities Development. SOSi.
  • Caprotti, F., Liu, D. Platform urbanism and the Chinese smart city: the co-production and territorialisation of Hangzhou City Brain. GeoJournal (2020).
  • Cowley, R., Caprotti, F., Ferretti, M. and Zhong, C. (2018) Ordinary Chinese smart cities. In Karvonen, A., Cugurullo, F. and Caprotti, F. (eds) Inside Smart Cities: Place, Politics and Urban Innovation. Routledge, London. pp.
  • Curran, D. and Smart, A. (2021) Data-driven governance, smart urbanism and risk-class inequalities: Security and social credit in China. Urban Studies 58(3): 487-506.
  • Große-Bley, J. and Kostka, G. (2021) Big Data Dreams and Reality in Shenzhen: An Investigation of Smart City Implementation in China. Big Data & Society 8(2): 1-14.
  • Guo, M., Liu, Y., Yu, H., Hu, B. and Sang, Z. (2016) An overview of smart city in China. China Communications 13(5): 203-211.
  • Hu, R. (2019) The State of Smart Cities in China: The Case of Shenzhen. Energies 12(22): 4375.
  • Qin, B. and Qi, S. (2021) Digital transformation of urban governance in China: The emergence and evolution of smart cities. Digital Law Journal 2(1).
  • Shepard, W. (2015) Ghost Cities of China: The Story of Cities without People in the World’s Most Populated Country. Zed Books, London.
  • Wang, B., Loo, B.P.Y. and Huang, G. (2021, online first) Becoming Smarter through Smart City Pilot Projects: Experiences and Lessons from China since 2013. Journal of Urban Technology
  • Wang, Y., Ren, H., Dong, L., Park, H-P., Zhang, Y. and Xu, Y. (2019) Smart solutions shape for sustainable low-carbon future: A review on smart cities and industrial parks in China, Technological Forecasting and Social Change 144 (July): 103-117.Technological Forecasting and Social Change 144 (July): 103-117.

African smart cities

  • Guma, P. (2021) Rethinking Smart Urbanism: City-Making and the Spread of Digital Infrastructures in Nairobi. Eburon Academic Publishers.
  • Herbert, C. W. and Murray, M. J. (2015) Building from scratch: new cities, privatized urbanism and the spatial restructuring of Johannesburg after Apartheid. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 39(3): 471-494.
  • Murray, M.H. (2017) Frictionless utopias for the contemporary urban age: large-scale, master-planned redevelopment projects in urbanizing Africa. In Datta, A. and Shaban, A. (eds) Mega-urbanization in the Global South: Fast cities and new urban utopias of the postcolonial state. London: Routledge. pp. 31–53.
  • Odendaal, N. (2016) Getting Smart about Smart Cities in Cape Town: Beyond the Rhetoric. In Marvin, S., Luque-Ayala, A. and McFarlane, C. (eds.) Smart Urbanism: Utopian Vision or False dawn? London: Routledge.
  • Watson, V. (2014) African urban fantasies: dreams or nightmares? Environment and Urbanization 26: 215–231.
  • Watson, V. (2017) New African city plans: local urban form and the escalation of urban inequalities. In Datta, A. and Shaban, A. (eds) Mega-urbanization in the Global South: Fast cities and new urban utopias of the postcolonial state. London: Routledge. pp. 54–65.

Rob Kitchin


New commentary: For or Against ‘The Business of Benchmarking’

A new commentary by Jim Merricks White and Rob Kitchin, ‘For or Against ‘The Business of Benchmarking’,’ has been published in the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. It is a response to a paper by Michele Acuto, Daniel Pejic and Jessie Briggs.

This short response does two things. First, it argues that urban benchmarks have
specific and structural limits not identified in the principal essay in this intervention, which
curtail the kinds of constructive and critical work such benchmarks might be expected to
perform. ISO 37120 is discussed as an example. Second, it proposes a pluralistic approach
to engagement and offers six suggestions for how academics might take urban benchmarks
and their makers seriously without becoming fully embedded in their business. These
are: ethnography, discourse analysis, self-reflexive critique, critical urban benchmarking,
alternative publication channels and scholarly debate.


New WP: Decentring the smart city

A new Programmable City Working Paper (No. 45) has been published. PDF

Decentering the smart city

This short working paper provides a critique of the smart city and the alternative visions of its detractors, who seek a more just and equitable city. Drawing parallels with data activism and data justice, it is argued that two main approaches to recasting the smart city are being adopted: inverting the ethos and use of smart city technologies; and discontinuing and blocking their deployment. The case is made for decentring the smart city, moving away from the reification of technologies to frame and consider their work within the wider (re)production of social relations.

Key words: smart city, technological solutionism, decentring, equality, justice, citizenship

It is a pre-print of Kitchin, R. (in press) Afterword: Decentering the smart city. In Flynn, S. (ed) Equality in the City: Imaginaries of the Smart Future. Intellect, Bristol.

The core argument is captured in this passage.

We need to stop casting ‘smartness’ and digital technologies in a privileged, significant independent role and recognize them as the agents of wider structural forces. This requires us to focus on and imagine the future city in a more holistic sense, and how smartness might or might not be a means of realising a fairer, more open and tolerant city. Rather than trying to work out how to insert equality into smartness, instead the focus is squarely on equality and reconfiguring structural relations and figuring out how smart technologies can be used to create equality and equity in conjunction with other kinds of interventions, such as social, economic and environmental policy, collaborative planning, community development, investment packages, multi-stakeholder engagement, and so on.

The issues facing cities are not going to be fixed through technological solutionism, but a multifaceted approach in which technology is one just one component (Morozov and Bria 2018). Homelessness is not going to be fixed with an app; it requires a complex set of interventions of which technology might be one part, along with health care and welfare reform, tackling domestic abuse, and a shift in the underlying logics of the political economy (Eubanks 2017). Congestion is not going to be fixed with intelligent transport systems that seek to optimize traffic flow, but by shifting people from car-based travel to public transit, cycling and walking. Similarly, institutionalized racism channelled and reproduced through predictive policing will not be fixed solely by tinkering with the data and algorithms to make them more robust, transparent and fairer, but by addressing institutionalized racism more generally and the conditions that enable it (Benjamin 2019).

In such a decentred perspective, platform and surveillance capitalism are not framed as separate and distinct forms of capitalism, and racism expressed through smart urbanism is not cut adrift from the structural logics and operations of institutionalized racism (understood in purely technical and legal terms). Rather, smart city technologies and their operations are framed with respect to capitalism and racism per se, and the solutions are anti-capitalist alternatives and anti-racism in which smart city technologies might or might not play some part.

Read more Paper PDF

Rob Kitchin

Living well with data: Practicing slow computing

I had the pleasure of being a panellist for the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) plenary session yesterday, along with Helen Kennedy and Seeta Peña Gangadharan. I thought I’d share the text of my short presentation here.

In my time I want to focus on one part of the session descriptor, namely ‘how can we live well with data, rather than just survive.’ This is an issue that I’ve been giving some thought to and discuss at length in a recent book, Slow Computing: Why We Need Balanced Digital Lives, written with Alistair Fraser (available for the duration of the conference for £7 using the code SC20 at BUP website). Rather than simply critique how digital society is unfolding, we wanted to set out practical and political interventions which can be performed individually or collectively that push back against the negative aspects of living digital lives; that allow people to claim and assert some level of control and advocate for a different kind of digital world. In short, how can people live a ‘digital good life’, or as we put it in the book, ‘experience the joy and benefits of computing, but in a way that asserts individual and collective autonomy?’

In the book, we focus our attention on how our everyday lives have been transformed by digital technologies in two key respects.

The first is with respect to time and how networked devices have ushered in an era of network or instantaneous time, where people are always and everywhere available, encounters are organized on-the-fly, tasks become interleaved and multiply, there is working-time drift, and individuals can feel they are tied to a digital leash that leaves them harried and anxious. Technologies are altering the pace, tempo and temporal organization of digital life in ways that are not always to our benefit or well-being.

Our second concern is with respect to data and how increased datafication and dataveillance is enabling companies and states to profile, socially sort, target, nudge and manage us. How excessive data extraction is fuelling the growth of data capitalism and reshaping governance, governmentality and citizenship in ways that erode civil liberties. It is these issues, and living well with data, that I concentrate on here.

There is no doubt that the era of ubiquitous computing and big data has resulted in excessive data extraction. Many digital technologies and services practise ‘over-privileging’; that is, seeking permission to access more data and device functions than they need for their operation alone. This has eroded privacy, created new predictive privacy harms, expanded data markets and the ways in which companies can accumulation profit by leveraging value from personal data, and underpins new forms of technocratic, algorithmic, predictive and anticipatory governance. There is significant data power – expressed through data capitalism and the state’s use of data – that reproduce structural inequalities unevenly across people (related to class, gender, race, ethnicity, disability, etc.) and places (well-off and poorer neighbourhoods, regions, global north/south).

The question is what to do about this? Our answer is what we term ‘slow computing’, a term that draws on notions at the heart of the slow living movement – well-being, enjoyment, patience, quality, sovereignty, authenticity, responsibility, and sustainability. Slowness is about enacting a different kind of society, in our case both in relation to time and data. It is about using devices and apps without feeling harassed, stressed, coerced, or exploited; and it is about challenging and transforming iniquitous and exploitative structural relations.

Conceptually, our argument is underpinned by the concepts of an ethics of digital care, data justice, and time and data sovereignty. Rooted in the ideas and ideals of feminism, an ethics of digital care promotes moral action at the individual and collective level to ensure personal wellbeing and aid for others. It recognizes that we are bound within webs of responsibility, obligations and duties and advocates acting reciprocally and non-reciprocally to tackle data injustices. Data justice draws much of its moral argument from the ideas of social justice, seeks fair treatment of people through data-driven processes, and challenges data power in various ways, including data activism. Data sovereignty, rooted in the work of indigenous scholars, is the idea that we should retain some degree of authority, power and control over the data that relates to us, that we should also have a say in the mechanisms by which those data are extracted, and that other entities, such as companies and states, should recognize that sovereignty as legitimate.

Using these ideas we set out individual and collective tactics – both practical and political – for asserting data sovereignty and expressing an ethics of digital care. At an individual level, this includes various means to curate digital lives, use open source alternatives, step away from technologies, and obfuscate. At a collective level, it includes political campaigning and lobbying, placing pressure on companies, creating data commons, undertaking counter-data actions, producing open source, privacy enhancement tech and civic tech.

At the same time, we recognize that different groups of people have varying opportunities to practice slow computing; to live well with data. The ability to exert data sovereignty varies by class, gender, race, ethnicity, etc. Poorer and more marginalized populations are more often the focus of data power and are least able to resist and pushback. This is why a collective ethics of digital care is vital; to seek data justice for all.

Of course, we’re not the only folks thinking about this, with much of the work concerning data ethics, data justice and data activism seeking to envisage a different kind of digital society and push back against the worst excesses of dataveillance and data capitalism. However, there is much more theoretic, empirical, advocacy and activist work needed within and beyond the academy if we are to live well with data

New Book: Citizens in the ‘Smart City’: Participation, Co-production, Governance

Citizens in the ‘Smart City’: Participation, Co-Production, Governance

By Paolo Cardullo

Published by Routledge; ISBN 9780429438806

This book critically examines ‘smart city’ discourse in terms of governance initiatives, citizen participation and policies which place emphasis on the ‘citizen’ as an active recipient and co-producer of technological solutions to urban problems.

The current hype around smart cities and digital technologies has sparked debates in the fields of citizenship, urban studies and planning surrounding the rights and ethics of participation. It also sparked debates around the forms of governance these technologies actively foster. This book presents new socio-technological systems of governance that monitor citizen power, trust-building strategies, and social capital. It calls for new data economics and digital rights for a city founded on normative ideals rather than neoliberal ones. It adopts a normative approach arguing that a ‘reloaded’ smart city should foster citizenship as a new set of civil and social rights and the ‘citizen’ as a subject vested with active and meaningful forms of participation and political power. Ultimately, the book questions the utility of the ‘smart city’ project for radical municipalism, proposing a technological enough but more democratic city, an ‘intelligent city’ in fact.

Offering useful contribution to smart city initiatives for the protection of emerging digital citizenship rights and socially accrued benefits, this book will draw the interest of researchers, policymakers, and professionals in the fields of urban studies, urban planning, urban geography, computing and technology studies, urban politics and urban economics.