Actualizing the Smart City: Two Urban Developments in Sydney

Authors: Jathan Sadowski*, The University of Sydney
Topics: Urban Geography
Keywords: smart city, urban governance, digital technology, actualizing
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Studio 5, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Much of the existing scholarship on smart cities has focused on analyzing and critiquing the smart city discourses propagated largely by multinational technology corporations. Such work is useful for understanding the visions and strategies driving smart urbanism. However, there’s a need for smart cities research to shift focus from the conceptual to the material and from the speculative to the actual. This talk will, therefore, describe an empirical study of two sites in Sydney, Australia, where smart urbanism is being actualized differently. The first site is a $2bn redevelopment project in a suburb called Parramatta, where the local government is building a smart-from-scratch precinct in its CBD with the goals of spurring economic growth and enhancing Parramatta’s image as “Australia’s next great city.” The second site is the controversial redevelopment of a public housing estate in an inner-city suburb called Waterloo, where the state government is building denser, mixed housing. Blocks away from the estate is Australian Technology Park, a buzzing center that houses companies, like Cisco’s Innovation Central Sydney, working on smart city initiatives. This juxtaposition illustrates the differences in how smart urbanism is actualized—by who, for whom. In Parramatta, booming businesses and young professionals are the ideal residents of the smart city. In Waterloo, companies at ATP are busy creating the future, while citizens of the public housing estate are busy fighting to have their voices heard. These two redevelopments are 25 minutes apart by train, but worlds apart in their politics and planning, design and development.

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