Accepted paper:

From smart cities to Inclusive cities: Looking for deeper conceptual dimensions


PB Anand (University of Bradford)

Paper short abstract:

This paper emerges from the British Academy funded research on situating infrastructure governance with inclusive, smart and sustainable cities paradigms. Smart city proposals focus on utilitarian frames but they often lack deeper institutional or conceptual frames. This paper aims to address this.

Paper long abstract:

Smart cities are coming to a town near you. From an initial fordist approach, smart cities have appropriated the language and vocabulary of sustainable cities without corresponding change in the conceptual thinking. Though agent based modelling is employed in digital representations, the concept of agency of citizens is almost non-existent in smart city discussions. Where the language of freedom is used, it is predominantly situated within a broadly neoliberal and financially independent person than one who is a politically engaged citizen seeking voice and accountability. Based on the author's field work and qualitative interviews in several cities in Asia, this paper aims to identify some of the key challenges to developing appropriate frameworks to understand smart city proposals and the theoretical, methodological and practical shortcomings in framing the narrative of smart cities as though they are neutral constructs without implications for exclusion and who is being excluded. In fact in one of the smart city proposals, even Elinor Ostrom's idea of common pool resources is invoked though none of the actual interventions that follow do not include any mechanisms for rule setting by the communities or ordinary citizens. The paper argues that within the context of institutional evolution, smart city ideas are often used as easy packaging to present technological fixes to complex urban problems and thus eliminate the need to discuss many important challenges as those belonging to previous technological paradigms and hence no longer relevant.

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)