More-than-Human Futures: Connected Urbanism and Cohabitation in the Smart City

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


The “smart city” agenda is about installing ubiquitous computing infrastructure and IoT devices to drive efficiency and productivity through big data analytics, automation, and optimisation. Yet, what evidence is there to suggest that the smart city can provide genuine answers to the climate emergency and the prospect of a planetary ecocide?

While the smart city agenda has started to move beyond the technology and data hype and come to terms with social and environmental issues, the challenges are vast. Climate change already has a great impact on cities with a notable increase in adverse weather events and insurance and rebuilding costs, and some thought leaders actively seek to reconcile the smart city with the resilient city. This talk ponders the question whether the human-centric focus is in fact worth rethinking in order to imagine the post-anthropocentric city in ‘more-than-human futures.’ 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 climate-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.

Recommended readings:

Clarke, R., Heitlinger, S., Light, A., Forlano, L., Foth, M., & DiSalvo, C. (2019). More-Than-Human Participation: Design for Sustainable Smart City Futures. ACM interactions, 26(3), 60-63.

Fieuw, W., Foth, M., & Caldwell, G. A. (2022). Towards a more-than-human approach to smart and sustainable urban development: Designing for multispecies justice. Sustainability, 14(2), 948.

About this Lecture

Number of Slides:  58
Duration:  45 - 90 minutes
Languages Available:  English
Last Updated: 

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