Accepted Paper:

University students' perspectives of a Smart City: integrating needs and aspirations  


Regine Sonderland Saga (Manchester Metropolitan University)
Paul O'Hare (Manchester Metropolitan University)
Rachel Dunk (Manchester Metropolitan University)

Paper short abstract:

The dominating interpretation of Smart Cities reflects a technocratic viewpoint. It has been broadly critiqued for limited inclusion of citizen's narratives to create a 'more just' Smart City. This paper explores university students' understandings and perceptions of the Smart City.

Paper long abstract:

There is consensus that the Smart City addresses the urgent need for sustainable urbanism through innovations and ICT systems designed to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions, and provide high-quality living for its citizens. However, this interpretation has been critiqued for reflecting a technocratic viewpoint with limited consideration of public understanding and aspirations. While recent initiatives claim to include citizens in Smart City developments through collaboration and co-creation, there is substantial debate regarding the extent to which this has stimulated a more inclusive approach. Thus, to create a 'more just' Smart City there remains a need to introduce citizens' narratives and perceptions. Here, we present results from a survey of students living in a Smart City district (n=1000). We found low awareness and understanding of the concept, where three-quarters of respondents had never heard of the Smart City. However, when asked what they thought made a technology smart, respondents identified a number of themes including: adaptable, advanced, connectable, easy and efficient. This suggests that a more inclusive and visible Smart City would help citizens to translate and extend their understandings of smart technologies to the city context, seeking to empower citizens in order to ensure that their needs and aspirations are met.

Panel A10
Commoning the smart city