Urenio Watch Watch: Publications on Intelligent Cities / Smart Cities

How the smart city could transform citizenship

Martijn de Waal and Marloes Dignum have recently published an article entitled “The citizen in the smart city. How the smart city could transform citizenship” in the journal of it – Information Technology. The article explores the relation between smart cities and citizenship through the introduction of an heuristic sheme that includes (1) the Control Room, (2) the Creative City and (3) the Smart Citizens.


Smart city-policy makers and technology vendors are increasingly stating they want to bring about citizen-centered smart cities. Yet, it often remains unclear what exactly that means, and how citizens are envisaged as actors in smart cities. This article wants to contribute to this discussion by exploring the relation between smart cities and citizenship. It aims to do this by introducing a heuristic scheme that brings out the implied notions of citizenship in three distinct sets of smart city visions and practices:

  • The Control Room envisages the city as a collection of infrastructures and services;
  • The Creative City views the city from the perspective of (economic) geography and ponders on local and regional systems of innovation;
  • The Smart Citizens discourse addresses the city as a political and civic community.

These smart city discourses are mapped against two visions on citizenship and governance taken from political philosophy. A `republican’ perspective with strong presence in social-democratic countries is contrasted with a libertarian one, most prominent in Silicon Valley approaches to smart city technologies. This provides a scheme to reflect on potential benefits and downsides if a specific smart city discourse would develop. Instances of smart cities may promote notions of citizenship that are based on consumer choice and individual responsibility, alternatively they could also reinforce collective responsibilities towards the common good of society.

  • For access to the full paper click here.