‘Smart cities’ is a term that has gained traction in academia, business and government to describe cities that, on the one hand, are increasingly composed of and monitored by pervasive and ubiquitous computing and, on the other, whose economy and governance is being driven by innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship, enacted by smart people. This paper focuses on the former and, drawing on a number of examples, details how cities are being instrumented with digital devices and infrastructure that produce ‘big data’. Such data, smart city advocates argue enables real-time analysis of city life, new modes of urban governance, and provides the raw material for envisioning and enacting more efficient, sustainable, competitive, productive, open and transparent cities. The final section of the paper provides a critical reflection on the implications of big data and smart urbanism, examining five emerging concerns: the politics of big urban data, technocratic governance and city development, corporatisation of city governance and technological lock-ins, buggy, brittle and hackable cities, and the panoptic city.
Twitter hashtag: #oiibellwether
This lecture will be followed by a short drinks reception.
About the speakers
Rob Kitchin is a professor and ERC Advanced Investigator in the National Institute of Regional and Spatial Analysis at the National University of Ireland Maynooth. He has published widely across the social sciences, including 21 books and over 130 articles and book chapters. He is editor of the international journals, Progress in Human Geography and Dialogues in Human Geography, and for eleven years was the editor of Social and Cultural Geography. He was the editor-in-chief of the 12 volume, International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, and edits two book series, Irish Society and Key Concepts in Geography. He has successfully written or been a principal investigator on forty grants, totalling c.€34m, including funding from PRTLI 2, 4, 5, IRC, ERC, SFI, ESRC, NSF, Interreg and RIA. He is currently a PI on the Programmable City project, the Digitial Repository of Ireland, and the All-Island Research Observatory. He has delivered over 100 invited talks at conferences and universities in over a dozen countries and his research has been widely covered in national and international media. His book ‘Code/Space’ (with Martin Dodge) won the Association of American Geographers ‘Meridian Book Award’ for the outstanding book in the discipline in 2011 and a ‘CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title 2011′ award from the American Library Association.