Who are the end-use(r)s of smart cities? A synthesis of conversations in Amsterdam

Christine Richter, Linnet Taylor, Shazade Jameson, Carmen Pérez del Pulgar

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Today, withdrawing from digital space would mean giving up on countless pleasures and conveniences afforded by communication and navigation devices. Even if one wanted to withdraw, living offline has become rather difficult. Around the world urban life has become digitized and datafied to a degree that any attempt at living even for a few days without engagement with digital space would likely require a withdrawal from urban life altogether: from travel, work, and personal relations as we nowadays experience and live them. Many urbanites produce digital data through almost everything they do. We get up in the morning and use a mobile phone that is constantly emitting information to check our email, the news, and social media. We travel to work using an electronic travel card or in a car with various GPS and digital systems. We walk down streets where signals from our phones and other devices are captured and read by wifi beacons and MAC address sensors, and our images by CCTV. We use apps that emit details of our location, we tweet, we tag, we check in. We make phone calls through particular antennas set up by our mobile phone providers. We interact with the city digitally by paying our taxes, living in our houses, using city services, and offering feedback to the authorities. All day, digital signatures are embedded in the technologies we use, emitted as we communicate and move around, and signaled by most of our activities. The picture that builds up about us in the course of every day is both behavioral and spatial in ways that are often opaque to us. Actual and possible effects of digitalization and datafication of urban life are critically debated in scholarly and policy circles; and Liesbet Van Zoonen (2015) has observed that city governments today are faced with a super-wicked problem of data governance (Levin et al. 2012). In this context citizens are both contributors to the digitalization and datafication, as well as being affected by these processes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCreating smart cities
EditorsClaudio Coletta, Leighton Evans, Liam Heaphy, Rob Kitchin
Place of PublicationBoca Raton, FL
PublisherCRC Press (Taylor & Francis)
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781351182393
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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