How we know where we are in the smart city: Excerpts from conversations in Amsterdam (Netherlands)

C. Richter, Shazade Jameson, Linnet Taylor, Carmen Pérez del Pulgar

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In smart cities data from and about residents is captured in high volumes and through a
variety of channels and devices. Some of these devices are part of the built environment, such
as CCTV cameras or wireless sensors, capturing data as we pass by them. Other data flows
within the digital sphere through our use of social media or text messages, for instance. How
these data become combined and used, and by whom, is mostly unknown to the individuals
who are both producers and users of digital data. This raises many questions about the social
and spatial ordering of the city and its people. Spatial references of our past or current
locations, places of residence and work, our movements through the city are deeply
embedded into the data streams and databases of the smart city. Through integration of data
from various sources, much can be known about our movements as well as social associations
within physical space. At the same time, the spaces that we experience and live in
increasingly take their shape across the digital and physical realms of life. In focus groups in
2015 in Amsterdam we discussed with citizen groups how they perceive of, enact and
articulate the types of spaces and spatial references that emerge through diverse digital data
flows. Through the analysis we are especially interested to understand how these articulations
of digital and physical spaces interlink; and how the notions of public and private space may
shift or intertwine in the processes that characterize smart urbanism from the perspective of
citizens. The research represents some of the first empirical work exploring the emotionalconnections of residents to their digital city.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017
Event7th Nordic Geographers Meeting, NGM 2017: Geographies of Inequality - Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: 18 Jun 201721 Jun 2017
Conference number: 7


Conference7th Nordic Geographers Meeting, NGM 2017
Abbreviated titleNGM 2017


  • Smart City
  • citizen
  • governance
  • surveillance
  • privacy
  • digital space


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