Accepted Paper:

Strategic planning and the 'smartification' of the city  


Uri Ansenberg (University of Manchester)

Paper short abstract:

As smart cities are becoming a reality, urban strategic planning is greatly involved in the preparations and adjustments needed. Ethnographically following the planning processes of the Tel-Aviv strategic plan this paper portrays the relations between smart cities and urban strategy

Paper long abstract:

With relation to the growing perception of cities as 'smart' entities, a growing number of STS scholars have taken an interest in the meaning of such qualities. Drawing on findings from 15 months' ethnographic research held in Tel-Aviv, this paper contributes to the study of smart cities through a shifting of our attention towards the relations between strategic planning and what is being portrayed as the 'smartification' of the city. This is done through concentrating on the findings gathered by the researcher as he was following the new Tel-Aviv strategic plan's consolidation processes inter alia public consultation sessions, 'inner' meetings of the strategic planners' teams, and 'ceremonial' presentations in which the plan was 'exposed'.

Focusing on the relations between strategic planning and real-estate valuations while presenting how these, so called, separated activities co-shape urban realities, this study aims to analyze the ways in which the formerly 'planned' and 'controlled' city is being transformed into a 'flat' financial surface organized by mere digits and algorithms. These processes are not as smooth and simple as it might initially seem, as they involve (and withstand) a long and complicated process of planning. Following these proceedings, the 'smart-city' emerges from the strategic planning as an automatic creature controlled by the liquidation of 'real-estate' (previously known as homes and houses) while doing its best to adjust to it. As part of this atmosphere the future appearance of self-driving cars, local digital currencies, shred-accommodation clean environment and etc., is being introduced into the new urban regime.

Panel C10
Technology, infrastructure, and the smartification of cities