There is no fully agreed upon definition of the buzzword ‘Smart Cities’, nevertheless there seem to be a wide agreement that it is a necessary constituent of the future of metropolis. One of the definitions describes the term as “the use of Smart Computing technologies to make the critical infrastructure components and services of a city – which include city administration, education, healthcare, public safety, real estate, transportation, and utilities – more intelligent, interconnected, and efficient”. Smartness of a city may be viewed as incorporation of the emerging technologies, such as the Internet of Things and/or (Big) Data Analysis to cities.
Big drivers of “smartness” are the city governments themselves, although right from the beginning there existed a bottom-up initiatives, bringing certain technological solutions to the citizens (such as the development of free WI-FI hotspots in New York).
The challenge lies both in defining the aims and executing them. The urban policy too often focused on deployment of smart solution in order to attract companies, thereby improving the economic condition of the city. Such focus sometimes lead to deepening inequalities, worsening rather than improving their quality of life. Only recently the bottom-up efforts have received the recognition by municipal governors and it remains to be shown that a balance between economic growth and sustainability may be reached.
I would like to combine the point of view of Urban Studies (including urban policy studies) and Sociology to see to which extent does the current Smart Cities development takes into account the co-constitution of society and technology and how could the approach be altered to focus the development on all people living in the cities. I am not sure whether choice of these two areas to approach the problem is the right one – perhaps choosing Economics or Policy Studies would be more appropriate?
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Nam, T., & Pardo, T. a. (2011). Conceptualizing smart city with dimensions of technology, people, and institutions. Proceedings of the 12th Annual International Digital Government Research Conference on Digital Government Innovation in Challenging Times – Dg.o ’11, 282. http://doi.org/10.1145/2037556.2037602
Caragliu, A., Del Bo, C., & Nijkamp, P. (2011). Smart Cities in Europe. Journal of Urban Technology, 18(2), 65–82. http://doi.org/10.1080/10630732.2011.601117
Tironi, M. (2013). Smart Cities: Urban laboratories and experiments. http://doi.org/10.1365/s40112-013-0252-8