Smart Mobility as a new way of knowing the city - Different perspectives and drivers of institutional work in four European cities

Authors: Laura Oers*, Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development - Utrecht University, Philipp Spath, University of Freiburg, Rob Raven, Monash Sustainable Development Institute, Eric Jolivet, Toulouse 1 University Capitole, Simon Marvin, Urban Institute - The University of Sheffield
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Transportation Geography
Keywords: Smart mobility, knowledge politics, institutional work
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


Mobility is one of the crucial activities performed in the urban context. Scaling of such activities typically causes negative externalities including traffic congestions, pollution, accidents, noise, and productivity loss. Smart interventions in the mobility system (e.g. digital sensors and apps) are considered to solve these issues as new practices of knowledge production and use allegedly result in better infrastructure management. Concurrently, there is a burgeoning interest as to how such digitisation and related technological possibilities may transform current ways of knowing and governing the city.

The notion of institutional work encapsulates this novel perspective on smart urban experimentation nicely by considering the forces that contribute to the renewing and shaping of actor constellations and institutional arrangements. Here, we are interested in the political implications of institutional work in terms of its potential to (re)configure urban governance. Specifically, we explore how the role of actors engaged in knowledge practices, their legitimacy and power may change in view of the new possibilities that smart mobility initiatives (SMIs) provide and promise. Additionally, we hone in on the institutional work observed in our selected SMIs and the resulting institutional changes in the urban context. We include cases from four European cities, in which high ambitions to pioneer in the build-up of a digitally enabled transportation system are articulated. While our cases differ strongly in the positioning and respective logic of actors that drive the SMI, this paper underlines the overall importance of understanding the knowledge politics of SMIs as resting in urban institutional arrangements.

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