Connected Urbanism and Cohabitation in the Smart City

Speaker:  Marcus Foth – Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Topic(s):  Human Computer Interaction


Ubiquitous computing, mobile devices, and big data come together to give rise to a new urban paradigm being celebrated by many technology corporations and municipalities alike: the smart city. Yet, the general tenor of the current hype around smart cities is mainly about efficiency and productivity gains through automation, algorithmic analysis of big data, and growth.

What evidence is there to suggest that the smart city can provide genuine answers to a number of wicked problems humanity faces?

The smart city agenda is only now starting to slowly move beyond the technology and data hype and come to terms with issues of housing affordability, digital inclusion, social justice. However, the list of challenges does not end here. Climate change already has a great impact on cities with a notable increase in adverse weather events, and some thought leaders actively seek to reconcile the smart city with the resilient city. A pertinent question to ask is whether the people-centric focus is in fact worth rethinking in order to imagine a new economy that embraces the post-anthropocentric city in ‘more-than-human worlds.’ With society’s current limited perspective that centres around humans, we risk to forget how we are entangled with and connected to other living beings, the environment, and the wider ecosystem that keeps us alive. Can we reconceptualise the smart city as a place where people and place meet to make a net positive contribution to the world?

This presentation will dissect components that make up smart cities from cradle to grave and focus on questions of sustainability and a connected urbanism. It offers a critical review of examples and case studies with a view to widen the scope of the debate. Concluding remarks around citizen co-creation, cohabitation and participatory governance beg further questions about not just the future of cities, but the future of the economy and democracy.

Professor Foth founded the Urban Informatics Research Lab at QUT in 2006. Ahead of their time and before the term “smart cities” became popular, the lab pioneered a new field of study and practice: Urban informatics, which examines how people create, apply and use information and communication technology and data in cities and urban environments. QUT Urban Informatics has been one of the leading research groups in the world conducting transdisciplinary research that addresses a number of critical challenges facing our cities. 

About this Lecture

Number of Slides:  112
Duration:  60 - 90 minutes
Languages Available:  English
Last Updated: 

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