Smart cities in the making: learning from Milton Keynes
Nick Bingham (Open University)
Gillian Rose (University of Oxford)
Alan-Miguel Valdez (Open University)
Matthew Cook (Open University)
Paper short abstract:
This paper reports on our initial attempts to think through the results of an extended empirical exploration of Milton Keynes as a smart city in the making in order to offer insights into how the urban is composed in the age of austerity, and to whose benefit.
Paper long abstract:
This paper reports on our initial attempts to think through the results of an extended empirical exploration of Milton Keynes as a smart city in the making. Focused on how Smart initiatives are making a difference to the social fabric of this large, rapidly growing town in the East of England, our fieldwork has followed the making of Smart in Milton Keynes and the making of Milton Keynes through Smart via a series of data, policy, labour, citizenship, and visual practices. In stark contrast to the promises of urban transformation based on digital-led integration, what we have encountered in Milton Keynes is a fragile, patchy, and highly variegated assemblage of Smart initiatives each enacting quite different, only partially connected versions of Milton Keynes and its inhabitants. Seeking to take this complex present of Smart seriously, we draw on recent work on urban technologies in Geography and STS to develop a way of thinking about Smart Cities that takes both the constitution of 'Smart' and the social fabric of 'Cities' as by no means all of a piece but instead multiple, tattered, and continually woven and rewoven in particular power-saturated sociotechnical practices and situations. We propose that in doing so we might offer some insights into how the urban is composed in the age of austerity, and to whose benefit.
Assembling the smart city: exploring the contours of social difference