Track 5: Smart Cities

Track Chairs: Dr. Francesco Pila, School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy, University College Dublin

Dr. Arturo Flores, National Autonomous University of Mexico and Anahuac University

Assoc. Professor Marco Santangelo

Smart city narratives have often been useful to deflect attention from broader changes brought by ICTs in our societies and cities by focusing on the practical impact that they have on daily activities (of citizens, institutions, economic actors,…). Certainly, cities are now embedded with multiple layers of sensors, which provide real time information to practitioners, industry, academia and citizens. At least for this reason, the smart city is a key theme in urban research over the past ten years; harnessing information and communications technology in the city offers opportunities to use technology in the struggle with various problems (e.g. pollution, transportation, vacant spaces, resilience to extreme weather events, etc.). Increasingly researchers are identifying limitations and challenges in the use of technology and technological solutions. But the relation between the city and technology constantly evolves over time, producing different urban forms, influencing lifestyles, promoting alternative ways of thinking on societal development and old and new inequalities. What is often analysed, in the smart city debate, as a software (ICT-related) problem is very much related to how hardware (the built environment) is challenged, to how humanware (citizens) reacts, to how orgware (governance-related) is structured, and – ultimately – to “cityware”.

This track wishes to promote further debate on alternative understandings of the smart city as well as alternative processes and imaginaries of relationship between cities, citizens and ICTs. Debates will profit from contributions that may include (but are not limited to) reflections on: winners and losers in the Smart City; features that may characterize the digital divide in different contexts; the issues of privacy and possession of data that are of concern in relation to ethics and social justice; benefits and flaws of big data and information; advantages and limitations of data driven urbanism guided by machine learning algorithms compared to traditional planning approaches; the global circulation of smart city imaginaries; the role of multinational enterprises in shaping technological imaginaries as well as city policies; theoretical and methodological perspectives on the exploration of the relation between technologies and the urban.