Smarter cities, less just destinations? Examining the relational agency of enabled tourism in Barcelona

Authors: Antonio Russo*, University Rovira I Virgili, Fiammetta Brandajs, University Rovira i Virgili
Topics: Urban Geography, Social Geography, Tourism Geography
Keywords: Smart cities; mobilities; digital inclusion; empowerment; negotiation
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 27
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper introduces a critical framework to analyse how ‘smart’ plays out in tourism places. Moving from a recognition of the strategies, expected impacts, and imageries of Smart City, we engage with the mobilities literature to identify pitfalls in the quest of ‘smartening up’ cities for tourists. Who wins, and who loses, in the negotiation over common goods and urban resources vis-à-vis the enabling power of technologies, and where does the interest to advance into ‘smart’ territory comes from, in tourist places? Drawing from early results of the SMARTDEST project, we focus on the case of Barcelona and its developments in the field of 'smart mobility', using data and qualitative evidence that may provide insights on the cause-effects relationships between ‘smart’ and ‘inclusive’, reconsidering tourism-driven gentrification in this light, and excavating on the role of policy in bringing about 'excluding' smart cities.

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