Navigating platform urbanism

Shenja van der Graaf*, Pieter Ballon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


The smart city imaginary has become a recurring theme within critical urban geography and entails a distinct set of rationalities. Here, we are interested in grappling with the current ‘place’ of smart cities in the context of what seems to be an emerging platform urbanism, thereby highlighting a complex platform-based ecosystem encompassing private and public organisations and citizens. Our point of departure is the operationalization of three intertwined trends associated with the conceptualizations of participation, mediatisation and (multi-sided) platformisation. Through the examination of (social) traffic and navigation application, Waze, we explore manifestations of (contested) dynamics in mobility practices occurring between commerce and community in the public space of the city. The preliminary findings point to the emergence of new socio-spatial constructs which afford a better frame of ‘what is going on’, challenging the smart city framework as a planning and development paradigm. In putting forward the notion of public value and ownership, it is our aim to prompt a critical debate about platform urbanism made explicit by a driving politics that offers a window to a future driving world, urging cities and governments to anticipate and mitigate (un)intended consequences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)364-372
Number of pages9
JournalTechnological forecasting and social change
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • (Social) navigation applications
  • Participation
  • Platformisation
  • Mediatisation
  • Urban planning
  • Smart city


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