Does formalization make a city smarter? Towards post-elitist and post-humanist smart cities
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AbstractThis paper brings together two bodies of research on development strategies that are rarely considered together: smart city strategies (SCS), and the formalization of informality. Both are common practices for cities that want to be seen to be at the cutting edge of urban fashion. Both strategies have also been criticized as top-down and corporate friendly initiatives that undermine local vernacular practices. Smart city proponents beg the question of what makes a city smart, and in doing so neglect forms of intelligence that do not involve sophisticated technology controlled by technical and corporate elites. I argue that argue that cities can be “smarter” (if by that we mean anything other than the quantity or density of information and communication technology) in a variety of ways, including (1) citizen engagement (Leontidou 2015), (2) low-tech but effective architectural and urban design, and (3) high-tech (currently emphasizing distributed cognition through studding cities with sensors monitored with big data analytics). The paper concludes with a research agenda towards non-elitist and non-humanist smart cities.
GrantingagencySocial Sciences and Humanities Research Council, City University of Hong Kong, Vice-President (Academic) U of Calgary
Presented at a workshop at City University of Hong Kong in June 2017. A revised version will be published in an edited volume from Palgrave Macmillan.