Constructing a European market for smart cities: A “common” framework?

Authors: Rachel Macrorie*, University of Sheffield
Topics: Urban Geography, Urban and Regional Planning, Sustainability Science
Keywords: smart cities, automation, housing, knowledge, politics
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: 8222, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The last decade has seen an explosion in global efforts to accelerate development of ‘smart’ cities. This infrastructural intervention is heralded as the solution to provide a flexible and responsive means of addressing urban growth, reduce carbon emissions and ensure an inclusive society. This paper demonstrates how the smart city agenda can be understood as an attempt to implement a standardised regime of computational governance and enable political decisions to be made about smart infrastructures and services as products of calculated market value within the neoliberal economy. We examined the contested processes making up the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities Six-Nations Forum (EIP-SCC 6N). This group aimed to develop a collective knowledge base and “common” smart governance approach that would improve livelihoods and environmental sustainability and boost the economic productivity of participating European cities. We critique four techniques advocated by the Forum to develop a European smart cities agenda: customisation, simplification, standardisation and calculation. Highlighting forms of negotiation, disagreement and hybridity arising through these political processes, we demonstrate how gestures of smart urbanism as a universal, objective and transportable market product are inherently problematic. Calls are made to pay attention to the multiple ways smart cities are imagined and realised in different urban contexts, involve broad coalitions of actors in urban governance, and recognise how smart interventions are only incorporated into everyday life through ongoing socio-political interactions.

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