Smart commons or a smart approach to the commons?

Authors: Paolo Cardullo*, , Rob Kitchin, Maynooth University of Ireland
Topics: Urban Geography, Cultural Geography, Social Geography
Keywords: urban commons, smart commons, smart city, communal city
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


Technological innovation in urban environments is said to enrich cities with the production of new commons, such as the “intelligence of the crowd” (crowdsourcing, open data, innovation hubs, etc.). However, techno-economic changes on a large scale (e.g., Carlota Perez) situate the Smart City as the latest drive for “accumulation by dispossession” and further polarization of wealth in cities (e.g., David Harvey). The paper engages with this rich critical tradition and maintains that this socially accrued value can be referred to, at its best, as a ‘smart commons’.
The second part of paper draws on the author’s empirical work around maintenance and defence of the commons in some smart city initiatives – data capitalism, ethical distributed ledger, and sharing economy. It suggests a ‘smart approach’ to the commons which evaluates smart technologies around a modulation of social and political capitals, trust and community-building, maintenance and defence of the accrued common value.
Thus, the paper asks whether a “communal city” might re-imagine the exchange of value and utilities between the Smart City and citizens. This city, it is here suggested, can develop only by protecting the urban commons with expanding collective rights and entitlements.

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