We need to carefully evaluate and consider whether digital technologies are needed at all. And thinking intentionally about what technologies are needed, not just which ones are available

Germaine Halegoua is John D. Evans Development Professor & Associate Professor of Communication and Media department at the University of Michigan. Her research interests focus on the relationships between people, place, and digital media. In particular, she’s interested in how visions of digital media by public officials and urban planners often conflict with popular imaginations and everyday experiences of digital technologies and infrastructures. Her book, Smart Cities (MIT Press Essential Knowledge Series, 2020), is an excellent tool to learn more about concepts, definitions, examples, and the history behind the smart cities project. 



“Smart Cities are industry-driven projects. So, they are simply not meant to mitigate inequalities, they are meant to capitalize on them”.

Jennifer Clark is Professor and Head of the City and Regional Planning Section at the Knowlton School of Architecture in the College of Engineering at The Ohio State University. She specializes in urban and regional economic development planning. In her book Uneven Innovation: The Work of Smart Cities (Columbia University Press, 2020), Dr. Clark provides a new framework to understand the emergence of the smart city project, and underlines how it continues and reinforce patterns of social and spatial inequalities.



“The vast majority of smart city projects are down at the non-participation and consumerism level. And although they’re branded as citizen-centric, it is within the constraints of  civic paternalism and stewardship.” 

Rob Kitchin is a professor in the Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute and the Department of Geography. He was a principal investigator on the Programmable City project (2013-18), the Building City Dashboards project (2016-21), the Digital Repository of Ireland (2009-2017) and the All-Island Research Observatory (2005-2017). In the book, The Right to the Smart City. Kitchin and co-authors provide a critical reflection on whether another smart city is possible and what such a city might look like, exploring themes such as how citizens are framed within it, the ethical implications of smart city systems, and whether injustices are embedded in city systems, infrastructures, services, and their calculative practices.


oxford university

I’ve  been  quite  interested  in  work  around  notions  of  data  feminism  in  terms  of  thinking about  data  itself.  And  trying  to  think  of  ways  of  embedding  in  data  the  partialities,  the selectivity, the messiness, the unreliability of data itself.” 

Gillian Rose, Professor in Human geography, is Head of School of Geography and the Environment in Oxford University. She is concerned with the politics of knowledge production: who creates what kinds of knowledges, how those knowledges circulate and transform, and what kinds of worlds are thus constituted. Over 2017 and 2018, she led the ESRC-funded project called ‘Smart cities in the making: learning from Milton Keynes’, with a particular interest in the wide range of ways in which images are put to work as part of making cities ‘smart’. Amongst other outcomes, Professor Rose and co-authors developed a “Toolkit for avoiding the inadvertent exclusion of communities from smart city projects”.



It takes a radical shift both in thinking and actions in order to be able to look at regions, cities, towns, communities and families from a gender perspective

Linda Gustafsson is Gender Equality Officer and coordinator of the Commission for Social Sustainability in Umeå, Sweden. Her role is to ensure that a gender perspective is integrated into the city policymaking, especially in urban planning and development. She leads Umeå’s URBACT policy challenge: Gender equality, urban innovation & smart cities: In what way could gendered power structures systematically be made visible and challenged in the processes of finding new, innovative solutions to urban challenges?



Knowledge differs from data and technologies, and contrary to what some artificial intelligence or deep learning specialists and enthusiasts say, data don’t speak by themselves

Ola Söderström is Professor of Social and Cultural Geographyat at the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland. His work involves analyzing society as material and spatialized culture. In other words, studying the reciprocal relationships between ideas, social relationships and practices, on the one hand, and material forms on the other. He is currently leading the project Smart Cities – Provincialising the global urban age in India & South Africa, aiming at capturing the local historical, political and alternative forms of data-driven urbanism from the grassroots.



kth royal institute of technology

“When you change a technological system, you’re also changing a social system in cities 

Andrew Karvonen is an associate professor and Director of Doctoral Studies in the Division of Urban and Regional Studies at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology. He conducts research on the politics and practice of sustainable urban development with a particular focus on the cultural and social dimensions of urban technologies. His current research examines the emergence of smart cities as an emergent mode of sustainable urban development. Among many other contributions, Professor Karvonen edited a book titled Inside Smart Cities, presenting twenty-three empirically detailed case studies from the Global North and South, that provide real-world evidence on how local authorities, small and medium enterprises, corporations, utility providers and civil society groups are creating smart cities at the neighbourhood, city and regional scale.



We need to rethink what does security really mean, and where does privacy  fit into the broader set of issues that governments need to be held responsible for” 

Bianca Wylie is a writer and an open government advocate with a dual background in technology and public engagement.  She is the co-founder of Digital Public, a co-founder of Tech Reset Canada and is a Senior Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation. She worked for several years in the tech sector in operations, infrastructure, corporate training, and product management. Then, as a professional facilitator, she spent several years co-designing, delivering and supporting public consultation processes for various governments and government agencies. She founded the Open Data Institute Toronto in 2014 and co-founded Civic Tech Toronto in 2015. Bianca Wylie’s writing has been featured in several media outlets.