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    Hi All,

    I'm writing a dissertation about 'Smart Cities, Smart Communities, Smart Citizens' as an MArch student in the UK and I am coming to you for help about areas to research/ thoughts about where this might lead (my dissertation tutor is very disengaged and disinterested in the field). It will be 8000 words on the topic of smart cities and how citizens can participate in their development, in order to mitigate authoritarian smart technology usage where the data of a heavily analysed city is used by a select few for capitalist and self-important manifestos.

    I feel there are a number of areas of smart cities that can be both positive (intelligent environmental technology and minimising waste, etc.) and also perceived as negative (heavy surveillance, 'police state', capitalist agendas around tailoring products, and the opportunity for developers to exploit human statistics to improve profit).

    My argument is that smart cities offer a fantastic opportunity for citizens to become involved in their cities - through participation and making transparent planning and development processes. A large aspect of this will be the use of social media and cell phones, and whether there could be apps such as tinder for cities. However, I also realise that there are obstacles in this in the form of citizen understanding and education/ background: how, when and to what extent this involvement is plausible.

    My question (very vague and I would massively appreciate any help in this) is how can architects/ urban designers develop and foster a population of smart citizens who can become involved in smart communities, in order to bring about an understanding of, and thus an engagement with, the future of smart cities?

    Thanks a whole bunch and I would really appreciate any references, views, opinions, and/or knowledge on the topic!!

    Kind regards,
    Chris
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    Sounds really interesting, the Luddite in me just thinks that smart cities would be controlled by whoever paid for / developed the tech and we'd have Facebook or the state taking greater control over the city. I guess you could link into the idea of opensource tech and creative commons licensing as a counter to that though, maybe looking at a kind of hacktivist movement...

    I guess it's important to define what a smart city is to you. It's often just a buzzword now, you could argue that the general idea of what a smart-city is can be pretty neolib. Often it seems to be a case of consumer-ification of the city, automating and detatching it further. And until you do, it might be hard to answer that question. There's a kinda question here too about the role of the architect in the smart city, and what, if any influence the architect has on making the city "smarter". Also, why would they want to? You could argue the opposite; that architects should protest against the control of smart cities by creating dumb cities, where everything is accessible and manageable by a citizen without training and education.

    I guess I'd be inclined to assert that architects / urban designers couldn't solve that problem. At least not alone. They'd need to collaborate with other fields, other people. This then sets you up on the participation kinda angle, because I guess you might have then demonstrated a need for it based on the architects position. You could look at Actor-Network-Theory, maybe a Marxist "Right to the City" angle as a political framework, maybe looking at Harvey for that. Spatial Agency is a good book for examples of "non-conventional" architecture practices.
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    Hi mattyh28,

    That's exactly where my thinking began! The hacktivist movement and the commons against a corporate-controlled city, to empower communities' abilities to make decisions on the running of their cities.

    I think that, as my study is architecture, I shall indeed link the back to the role of the architect in the creation of the city. I was considering that empowering the architect and the citizen would have to be a legislative movement - where terms in the smart city agendas would guarantee the rights of architects and citizens - however I hadn't considered the potential desire of architects to make cities 'dumb'. That's a really good point... architects have historically involved themselves in the future of cities, advocating certain potentials. Perhaps it would be good to try and ask some current architects what their take is on the city of the future and whether they would be in line with 'smart'.

    I've been looking at David Harvey, who also writes a lot about the commons, but I'll also give the Actor-Network-Theory a look, and Spatial Agency. I would be happy to link things through to the philosophies of Marx; I think, after all, that the basis of the discussion will end up being political!

    Thanks a whole lot! It's nice even to know that the area might be interesting - I'd been worrying it might skew completely, and become a boring planning policy document haha.

    Chris
 
 
 
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