Where's Wally? In Search of Citizen Perspectives on the Smart City
Published: 08 June 2015 by MDPI AG in 8th Conference of the International Forum on Urbanism (IFoU) session True Smart & Green Urban Society
Abstract: Academics, technology companies, public administrators, journalists and marketing agents have celebrated, critiqued, bought, sold, reimagined and redefined the smart city concept. Despite the rise in research and news articles regarding the smart city, perspectives of smart city citizen have been noticeably absent from this growing discourse. The authors' recent systematic literature review, a forthcoming publication, highlighted that citizen perspectives on what a smart city should and could be are largely absent from peer-reviewed publications. In the few exceptions found by the review, the incorporation of citizen perspectives was superficial at best. The primary purpose of this paper is to address that absence of citizen voices. This paper details a research project that explored how citizens in London, Manchester, and Glasgow responded to the smart city concept. Participants were asked questions regarding their prior knowledge of the phrase 'smart city', their thoughts relating to what it means for a city to be smart and what a 'true' smart city might mean to them. The paper compares and contrasts the findings from the research with the dominant rhetoric about smart cities, as identified through the systematic literature review. Furthermore the paper offers a critical assessment of the values underlying the phrase 'the smart city'. It aims to deconstruct some of the expectations that citizens hold for their cities' politicians, policy makers, planners, academics, and technology companies. We argue that these perspectives from citizens can be used to inform responsible development, spatially and socially inclusive technologies, and ultimately more resilient cities.
Keywords: smart cities, participation, community based development, local knowledge