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Accepted Paper:

Faces of smart cities in Cambodia: anticipation and negotiation  
Justin Lau (The Australian National University)

Paper short abstract:

The paper explores two visions of smart city in Cambodia: one is imposed from above by the state who aims to expand its power over the city, while the other one is engineered by some local people who aim to improve the environment. I show how citizenship is contested around the making of smart city.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores how the seductive image of ‘smart city’ is perceived by some locals as the key to solve environmental problems and the growing waste generation in Cambodia. The post-war Cambodia has witnessed a rapid but turbulent economic development fuelled by the expansion of private sector. Luxury hotels and skyscrapers are burgeoning across cities, making inroads into the natural reserve of the country, and generating an increasing amount of construction waste. Yet, the urban development does not just go ‘vertically’ but it also expands ‘horizontally’ (Jensen 2017). Recently, the Cambodia government, in partnership with private investors, aims to remake key urban areas into smart cities by building a network of electronic Internet of Things (IoT) where sensors are created to collect personal data in an attempt to improve traffic conditions and control crime rates. This move is widely viewed as the expansion of state control and the creation of ‘financialized infrastructure’ (Bear 2017). However, ‘smart city’ is not just imposed by the state. A growing number of community-based organisations founded by young Cambodian intellectuals have sought to develop smart technology to improve environmental situation in particular the poorly-managed waste situation. This paper thus examines how another version of ‘smart city’ is emerged and engineered on the ground by Cambodian young adults. Tracing various graphic visual representations and reports of the alternative ‘smart city’ that stresses environmental care and conservation, I consider how young Cambodians seek to (re)-claim citizenship through the promise of ‘smart city’.

Panel Urb06
Living, reinterpreting and transgressing smart cities
  Session 1 Thursday 24 June, 2021, -