Accepted Paper:

Emerging computational forms of knowing urban environments: Digital citizenship and municipal sensing  


Simon Marvin (University of Sheffield)
Andres Luque (Durham University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper looks at the use of digital environmental sensors within smart city configurations, examining transformations on how we interact with resource flows, novel urban subjectivities associated to sensing capacities and implications for how ‘smart’ citizenship is constituted and experienced.

Paper long abstract:

This paper focuses on the rise of novel computational forms of knowing within the smart city, particularly through the use of digital sensors owned by local authorities as well as citizens. It examines the emergence of new urban subjectivities associated to such sensing capacities, and the resulting implications for how citizenship is constituted and experienced. Urban sensors are transforming how we interact with environmental and resource flows (e.g. water, waste, energy, air) and with the networked infrastructures that sustain them. Using a case study of Barcelona, where sensing is an important and distinctive dimension in its smart city initiative, the paper illustrates how urban ecologies are selectively and carefully incorporated into monitoring and control capabilities. It looks in detail at two processes. First, the Sentilo platform, an open source sensor and actuator platform that is part of Barcelona's smart city architecture. Sentilo agglomerates the data generated by a variety of municipally owned sensors, from parking to waste and air quality, opening possibilities for the recombination of ecological data towards the generation of new urban knowledge. Second, the SmartCitizen Kit, a micro-sensor developed at Barcelona's FabLab and marketed to individuals for the purpose of personalised air quality and noise readings. Drawing upon recent debates about the importance of the bioeconomy as a new focus for economic growth and a vehicle to transcend ecological constraints (Cooper, 2008), we illustrate the way in which the ecologies of the city become subject to micro-spatial monitoring via sensors and its assembly into specialist eco-systems.

Panel T008
Smart eco-cities: experimenting with new urban futures