Global Markets, Local Networks. Exploring the Amsterdam Smart City

Authors: Gernot Grabher, HafenCity University Hamburg, Filipe Mello Rose*, HafenCity University Hamburg, Joachim Thiel, HafenCity University Hamburg
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Economic Geography
Keywords: Smart City, Network Analysis, Amsterdam, Puplic Participation, Technology Corporations
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: 8222, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The massively growing influence of large technology corporations on the provision and control of digitalized urban infrastructures establishes a major point of critique in the relevant literature on smart cities (e.g. Hollands, 2015). Smart city policies, it is argued, open the provision of public goods for private capital and sustain the mainstreaming of private sector profit-driven neoliberal urban development strategies. In a recent contribution McNeill (2015: 563) challenges this position, claiming “[…] that the power of ‘smart cities’ corporations to influence urban life is analytically over-determined.”
This contribution sides with those voices that foreground the opportunities afforded by a co-constructed smart city in with alternative forms of technological forms are practiced in a variety of contexts (e.g. Farías and Widmer 2018; Zegras et al. 2014). The realization of a smart city thus also is shaped by the acceptance and appropriation of technology by city administrators and citizens.
We elucidate the unfolding tensions between global, top-down, privately-owned technology corporations and local political networks and associations by mobilizing preliminary evidence from a case study of Amsterdam. We find that the direct influence of large technology providers is limited, since it is met with resistance by the civil society who demands to be involved in the development of a smart city. In particular, we investigate the interdependencies between market-driven networks of state actors and private companies, and the civil society-based networks of alternative innovation projects. Our findings are based on quantitative and qualitative analysis network analysis of Amsterdam’s diverse smart city project ecology.

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