Urenio Watch Watch: Intelligent Cities / Smart Cities

Interview: “The current discussion on ‘˜smart cities’ is based on a too limited idea of what a city is”

Martijn de Waal, Director of The Public Matters, talks about how current ‘˜smart city’ research conceptualizes the city mainly as a bunch of infrastructure to be managed as efficiently as possible, understimating the complexity of urban life and public spaces.

Martijn de Waal explains that mobile media have created a new social condition, changing the way we exist and socialize in public spaces. The notion of ‘˜presence’ is changing and is being re-determined in terms of connectivity, especially when it comes to newer generations; someone is considered to be present if he can be reached and connected to, rather than whether he is actually physically present. Governments need to take serious account of this new condition and adjust physical space to emcompass the behavior of   the users. Connectivity leads to new types of spatial practices, so governments don’t just need to equip public spaces with connectivity, but also adjust the design of these spaces to the new practices. For instance, what good does an urban park with Wi-Fi serve, if there is no bench to sit on and use your laptop?

The new reality is capable of turning a public space into a private experience, or the other way around. Can we then design urban publics, rather than public spaces?

The interview was given to Elizabeth Winkel of EUKN. The Public Matters (TPM) is an office for strategy and research on the role of new media in society. One of their main projects is the well-known The Mobile City, a think tank on the role of digital media in urban design that de Waal founded with Michiel de Lange in 2007.

Access the full interview here.

You may also like to visit:

The Mobile City

The Public Matters