Trying to pave the way for Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) – The knowledge politics of Smart City experiments in Hamburg

Authors: Philipp Spaeth*, Freiburg University, Joerg Knieling, Hafen-City University Hamburg
Topics: Urban Geography, Social Theory, Political Geography
Keywords: Smart City, Digitization, Knowledge Politics, Intelligent Transportation Systems
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: 8222, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The Intelligent Transportation Strategy for Hamburg (ITS-HH) is a political initiative to strategize and coordinate the build-up of top-of-the-range infrastructure and standards for data management and exchange across the city state of Hamburg, Germany. The strategy relates to the internationally used term ITS and defines it as “transportation infrastructure, ICT and vehicle systems that – by interconnecting vehicles, infrastructure and people (e.g. via mobile phones) and by an exchange of real-time data – contribute to making mobility more reliable, safe, efficient and environmentally sound”. (BWVI 2016) The ITS strategy is implemented in the form of a set of experiments and demonstrator projects. Each project features different challenges to entrenched knowledge practices and involves a different set of actors.
Based on an analysis of published material (policy documents, working papers, speech manuscripts, websites, brochures etc.) and grey literature as well as more than a dozen interviews that were conducted in 2015–2018 with knowledgeable people of different backgrounds (various departments of the city administration, publically and privately owned companies, the port authority, civic organizations, academia and journalism), this contribution explores how a Smart City agenda and related experiments have influenced how knowledge on traffic situations in Hamburg is created and used today. We focus our analysis on such emerging changes that appear to have implications with regard to who is and who will be positioned as a knowledgeable actor: Subtle shifts of responsibility for “data governance” seem to have become a key source of power for particular parts of the state administration.

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