Smart eco-cities: experimenting with new urban futures
Rob Raven (Utrecht University)
Matthijs Kouw (Maastricht University)
Simon Marvin (University of Sheffield)
Philipp Sp├Ąth (Freiburg University)
Andres Luque (Durham University)
Rob Raven (Eindhoven University of Technology, 1), Simon Marvin (University of Sheffield, 2)
Thursday 1 September, 14:00-15:45, 16:00-17:45 (UTC+0)

Short abstract:

Smart eco-cities' are increasingly part of urban discourse. Urban scholars highlight new risks and social and political implications and criticize its techno-optimism. We invite empirical and conceptual papers building upon perspectives in STS, socio-technical transition studies and urban studies.

Long abstract:

Smart cities' are increasingly part of urban discourses. Driven by an optimistic belief that 'smart' technologies enable efficient and sustainable governance of urban public spaces, energy flows, mobility patterns and so on, city officials and industrial actors around the world collaborate to build the cities of tomorrow. Implementing smart technologies, it is argued, leads to more sustainable and innovative cities, and dramatically improves urban life through better health, greener living spaces, and more democratic modes of governance. Technological solutions are believed to be simply plugged into existing urban settings.

This techno-optimism is criticized by urban scholars, who highlight risks such as increased private control over public spaces, or the neglect of participation and engagement of civil society in formal decision making processes. Some argue for a shift focus from smart cities towards smart urbanism - highlighting social, entrepreneurial and communal aspects of livable and resilient cities. Others question relations between 'smartness' and 'eco'. Generally, there is utter disagreement about what a smart city is or should be, which mystifies public debates and obscures interests at play. Although well-developed in normative sense, academic work on smart cities often dwells on the same examples and has yet to deliver thorough empirical and conceptual analyses of smart eco-cities. This is of great importance, since little is known about the 'actually existing smart city'.

We invite both empirical and conceptual papers building upon and extending perspectives in e.g. STS, socio-technical transition studies and urban studies.