Tag Archives: citizenship

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.

New paper: Civil liberties or public health, or civil liberties and public health?

A new paper by Rob Kitchin has been published in Space and Polity examining the implications to civil liberties of using surveillance technologies to tackle the spread of COVID-19.

Civil liberties or public health, or civil liberties and public health? Using surveillance technologies to tackle the spread of COVID-19

PDF of paper

Abstract

To help tackle the spread of COVID-19 a range of surveillance technologies – smartphone apps, facial recognition and thermal cameras, biometric wearables, smart helmets, drones, and predictive analytics – have been rapidly developed and deployed. Used for contact tracing, quarantine enforcement, travel permission, social distancing/movement monitoring, and symptom tracking, their rushed rollout has been justified by the argument that they are vital to suppressing the virus, and civil liberties have to be sacrificed for public health. I challenge these contentions, questioning the technical and practical efficacy of surveillance technologies, and examining their implications for civil liberties, governmentality, surveillance capitalism, and public health.

Keywords: coronavirus; COVID-19; surveillance; civil liberties; governmentality; citizenship; contact tracing; quarantine; movement; technological solutionism; spatial sorting; social sorting; privacy; control creep; data minimization; surveillance capitalism; ethics; data justice.

 

Using digital technologies to tackle the spread of the coronavirus: Panacea or folly?

Update: a revised version of this working paper has now been published as open access in Space and Polity.

A new paper by Rob Kitchin (Programmable City Working Paper 44) examines whether digital technologies will be effective in tackling the spread of the coronavirus, considers their potential negative costs vis-a-vis civil liberties, citizenship, and surveillance capitalism (see table below), and details what needs to happen.

PDF of working paper          (PDF of revised version in Space and Polity)

Using digital technologies to tackle the spread of the coronavirus: Panacea or folly?

Abstract
Digital technology solutions for contact tracing, quarantine enforcement (digital fences) and movement permission (digital leashes), and social distancing/movement monitoring have been proposed and rolled-out to aid the containment and delay phases of the coronavirus and mitigate against second and third waves of infections. In this essay, I examine numerous examples of deployed and planned technology solutions from around the world, assess their technical and practical feasibility and potential to make an impact, and explore the dangers of tech-led approaches vis-a-vis civil liberties, citizenship, and surveillance capitalism. I make the case that the proffered solutions for contact tracing and quarantining and movement permissions are unlikely to be effective and pose a number of troubling consequences, wherein the supposed benefits will not outweigh potential negative costs. If these concerns are to be ignored and the technologies deployed, I argue that they need to be accompanied by mass testing and certification, and require careful and transparent use for public health only, utilizing a privacy-by-design approach with an expiration date, proper oversight, due processes, and data minimization that forbids data sharing, repurposing and monetization.

Keywords: coronavirus; COVID-19; surveillance; governmentality; citizenship; civil liberties; contact tracing; quarantine; movement; technological solutionism; spatial sorting; social sorting; privacy; control creep; data minimization; surveillance capitalism; ethics; data justice.

coronavirus tech issues

New book: The Right to the Smart City

Right to the smart city coverFriday was publication day for ‘The Right to the Smart City‘ book edited by Paolo Cardullo, Cesare Di Feliciantonio and Rob Kitchin published by Emerald. The book is the outcome of the fourth international workshop hosted by the Programmable City project and focuses on the interrelationship of smart cities, rights, citizenship, social justice, commons, civic tech, participation and ethics. It includes chapters by Katharine Willis, Jiska Engelbert, Alberto Vanolo, Michiel de Lange, Catherine D’Ignazio, Eric Gordon, Elizabeth Christoforetti, Andrew Schrock, Sung-Yueh Perng, Gabriele Schliwa, Nancy Odendaal, Ramon Ribera-Fumaz, and the three editors.

1.    Citizenship, Justice and the Right to the Smart City. Rob Kitchin, Paolo Cardullo, Cesare Di Feliciantonio

Part 1: Citizenship and the commons

2.    Whose right to the smart city?
Katharine Willis

3.    Reading the neoliberal smart city narrative: The political potential of everyday meaning making.
Jiska Engelbert

4.    Playable urban citizenship: Social justice and the gamification of civic life.
Alberto Vanolo

5.    The right to the datafied city: Interfacing the urban data commons.
Michiel de Lange

6.    Smart commons or a ‘smart approach’ to the commons?
Paolo Cardullo

7.    Against the romance of the smart community: The case of Milano 4 You.
Cesare Di Feliciantonio

Part 2: Civic engagement, participation and the right to the smart city

8.    Sensors and civics: Towards a community-centred smart city.
Catherine D’Ignazio, , Eric Gordon and Elizabeth Christoforetti

9.    What is civic tech? Defining a practice of technical pluralism.
Andrew Schrock

10.    Hackathons and the practices and possibilities of participation.
Sung-Yueh Perng

11.    Smart cities by design? Interrogating design thinking for citizen participation.
Gabriele Schliwa

12.    Appropriating ‘big data’: exploring the emancipatory potential of the data strategies of civil society organisations in Cape Town, South Africa.
Nancy Odendaal

13.    Moving from smart citizens to technological sovereignty?
Ramon Ribera-Fumaz

14.    Towards a genuinely humanizing smart urbanism.
Rob Kitchin

Smart spaces and smart citizens?

I attended the Smart Cities and Regions Summit in Croke Park, Dublin, today and took part in the ‘smart spaces and smart citizens?’ panel. We were asked to produce a short opening statement and thought I’d share it here.

I’m going to discuss smart citizens by considering Dublin as a smart city. To start, I want to ask you a set of questions which I’d like you to respond to by raising a hand. Don’t be shy; this requires participation.

How many of you have a good idea as to what Smart Dublin is and what it does?

How many of you feel you have a good sense of smart city developments taking place in Dublin?

Would you be able to tell me much about the 100+ smart city projects that are taking place in the city in conjunction with Smart Dublin and it four local authority partners?

Would you be able to tell me much about the extent to which these projects engage with citizens?

Or how the technologies used impact citizens, either in direct or implicit ways?

Or whether Smart Dublin and the four local authorities have a guiding set of principles or a programme for citizen engagement or smart citizens?

You’re all people interested in smart cities. You’re here because it relates to your work in some way. You have a vested interest in knowing about smart cities.

Do you think that citizens in Dublin know about these projects, which might be taking place in their locality?

Do you think that they have sufficient knowledge to be able judge, in an informed way, a project’s merits?

Do you think they have an active voice in these projects’ conception, their deployment, the work that they do? In how any data generated are processed, analysed, shared, stored, and value extracted, etc.?

Do local politicians – citizen representatives – know about them? And do they have an active voice in smart city development in Dublin?

This panel is titled ‘Smart spaces and smart citizens’.

What is difficult to see in most smart city initiatives is the ‘smart citizen’ element. It seems that what is implied by ‘smart citizen’ is simply being a person living in a city where smart city technology is deployed, or being a person that uses networked digital technology as part of everyday life.

To create a smart citizen, all a state body or company apparently needs to do is say people should be at the heart of things, or enact a form of stewardship (deliver a service on behalf of citizens) and civic paternalism (decide what’s best for citizens), rather than citizens being meaningfully involved in the vision and development of the smart city.

In our own research concerning networked urbanism and smart cities from a social sciences perspective we have been interested in exploring these kinds of questions, and how the citizen fits into the smart city. It’s a central concern in our latest book published next month, ‘The Right to the Smart City’, which explores the smart city in relation to notions of citizenship and social justice.

What our research shows is that citizens can be varyingly positioned, and perform very different roles, in the smart city depending on the type of initiative.

ladder

It is perhaps no surprise then that citizens in numerous jurisdictions have started to push back against the more technocratic, top-down, marketised versions of the smart city – the on-going protests in Toronto over the Sidewalk Labs waterfront development being a prominent example. Instead, they demand more inclusive, empowering and democratic visions, with Barcelona’s notion of technological sovereignty often providing inspiration (see my recent piece comparing Toronto and Barcelona and links to articles and organisation websites).

It is difficult to argue that we are enabling ‘smart citizens’ if they are not informed, consulted or involved in the development and roll-out of smart city initiatives. As such, if we are truly interested in creating smart citizens then we need to make a meaningful move beyond the dominant tropes of stewardship and civic paternalism to approach smart cities in a smarter way.

For a fuller discussion see the opening and closing chapters of The Right to the Smart City, which are available as open access versions.

Kitchin, R., Cardullo, P. and di Feliciantonio, C. (2018) Citizenship, Social Justice and the Right to the Smart City. Pre-print Chapter 1 in The Right to the Smart City edited by Cardullo, P., di Feliciantonio, C. and Kitchin, R. Emerald, Bingley.

Kitchin, R. (2018) Towards a genuinely humanizing smart urbanism. Pre-print Chapter 14  in The Right to the Smart City edited by Cardullo, P., di Feliciantonio, C. and Kitchin, R. Emerald, Bingley.

Rob Kitchin

New paper: Towards a genuinely humanizing smart urbanism

Rob Kitchin has published a new Programmable City working paper (No. 43) via OSF: Towards a genuinely humanizing smart urbanism. The paper is a modified, pre-print version of the closing chapter in the book ‘The Right to the Smart City’ edited by Paolo Cardullo, Cesare Di Feliciantonio and Rob Kitchin to be published by Emerald Publishing.

Abstract

This paper considers, following David Harvey (1973), how to produce a genuinely humanizing smart urbanism. It does so through utilising a future-orientated lens to sketch out the kinds of work required to reimagine, reframe and remake smart cities. I argue that, on the one hand, there is a need to produce an alternative ‘future present’ that shifts the anticipatory logics of smart cities to that of addressing persistent inequalities, prejudice, and discrimination, and is rooted in notions of fairness, equity, ethics and democracy. On the other hand, there is a need to disrupt the ‘present future’ of neoliberal smart urbanism, moving beyond minimal politics to enact sustained strategic, public-led interventions designed to create more-inclusive smart city initiatives. Both tactics require producing a deeply normative vision for smart cities that is rooted in ideas of citizenship, social justice, the public good, and the right to the city that needs to be developed in conjunction with citizens.
Keywords: smart cities, citizenship, social justice, right to the city, future

Download paper