Accepted paper:

'Smart-wise cities' in India: mapping the collective intelligence in urban transformation


Joe Ravetz (University of Manchester)
Jessica Symons (University of Manchester)
Mayank Dubey (Xavier University Bhubaneswar )
Tathagata Chatterji (Xavier University Bhubaneswar)
Souvanic Roy (Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology (IIEST))

Paper short abstract:

Smart city technologies are powerful drivers in urban transformation, with positive & negative effects. Mapping these shows pathways for 'Smart-Wise Cities' to steer towards societal goals. This paper reports on a pilot project in India, with implications for global urban studies.

Paper long abstract:

Smart city technologies can be powerful and innovative forces in urban transformation. They can also disrupt economies and societies, with risks of power grabs, land grabs, data grabs, and new patterns of inequality and exclusion. Smart technologies also bring opportunities: framed here as a 'smart-wise' model, which aims to steer new technologies towards societal goals.

This paper reports on an ESPRC-funded pilot project on 'Smart Cities in the Global South', working in Bhubaneswar (Odisha) and Kolkata (West Bengal) in eastern India. Here, collaborative fieldwork is building an online library of 'use-cases' and 'value-models' in a range of public services. This is part of a global program on urban transformation 'from smart to wise': this explores the pathways, from evolutionary-competitive systems (i.e. 'smart'), towards co-evolutionary collaborative systems ('wise'), based on a 'collective urban intelligence'.

The Indian context is the National Smart Cities Mission, and the policy goal for a much needed urban transformation. However there is growing critique on smart cities and their role in exclusion and inequality: e.g. informal sectors can benefit greatly, but also most vulnerable to disruption of livelihoods and communities. So the proposition to national policy is then framed as 'Smart-Wise Inclusive Cities', and the paper contributes evidence and analysis to that case.

There is also a comparative strand, which contrasts urban change and technology disruption in India with the developed world. Building on the EU Green Digital Charter, and many smart initiatives in Manchester, this explores the global dimensions of urban transformation.

panel K04
From inclusive cities via vibrant public spaces to sustainable development: A leap of faith or a leap too far? (Hybrid combining: paper + policy and practice panel)