بخشی از مقاله (انگلیسی)
Cities across the world are increasingly labelling themselves as smart in one way or another. At the same time, this smartness appears amorphous or invisible in its built urban environment. Critical researchers writing on the smart city regularly express confusion or exasperation about precisely the difficulty to locate the smart in the city. Visibility of the smart city is not a given. This article argues that visibility in the case of the smart city is instead strategically produced, and that the strategy opted for tells us something about the kind of urban imaginary put forward. The article introduces a provisional and non-exhaustive taxonomy of strategies of visibility based on analyses of three different cases of smart city projects (in Brazil, Sweden and Canada) and identifies the ways in which the smart city is made visible (or not)—symbolic presence of smart, modelling smart and ubiquitous invisible smart—and discusses what kind of city is envisioned based on each strategy.
The following article investigates the visibility of the smart city. The main argument is that smart city visibility is strategic rather than given, and the article presents three different strategies of visibility inferred from urban examples: the control room of Rio de Janeiro’s smart city operations (the COR), a proposed smart model city in Sweden (Plusstaden) and visualizations of the proposed and later discontinued project Sidewalk Toronto. These three cases represent three different strategies of making the smart city visible: symbolic presence of smart (manifestation through a representation of a smart object or space), modelling smart (constructing exemplary environments), and ubiquitous invisible smart (a strategic invisibility). The article, furthermore, argues that the way in which the smart city is made visible outlines different future imaginaries that produce different relationships between state, smart system, and inhabitants. Smart city visibility will therefore ultimately constitute a political question, not least with regards to transparency, and deserves more scholarly attention than has been the case up to now.
The principal contribution of the article is to the under researched field of the smart city’s medial and material manifestations. While smart city visibility is touched on in a range of critical research into the following areas: material manifestations of the smart city (Halpern 2015; Picon 2015; Halegoua 2020), visualizations of smart city (Rose 2017, 2018a, b) and narratives of the smart city (Söderström et al. 2014), there is very little research concerning itself with its visibility as such, and even less on the strategic aspects of this visibility. In this sense, the article contributes to the field of smart city visibility through differentiating between different approaches to visibility of smart cities. The article provides a preliminary framework for further analysis of smart city visibility and offers a set of analytical concepts for future research and policymaking.
A politics of visibility
Sometimes, the smart city is presented as a uniform corporate vision, at times juxtaposed with ‘civic hackers’ (Townsend 2013) or the ‘social city’ (Halegoua 2020), offering community-based non-corporate alternatives to the corporate smart city vision. The smart visions here discussed through their strategies of visibility cannot be neatly divided in this sense. Instead, the material suggests a bigger variation of smart city dreams—the municipal government (with IBM in Rio de Janeiro) vs the national Swedish platform proposed by Plusstaden and the corporate smart city of Sidewalk Toronto.
I am not arguing that one smart city strategy of visibility is necessarily preferable to others, it would seem to be too early to decide, nor that all models are good or bad. Rather, they present different problems to its inhabitants, not only through the different subjectivities encouraged but also in terms of experience and transparency. These problems need to be addressed through other measures, through policy and laws. The strategies of visibility themselves require different societal responses and the strategies’ political effects will depend on these responses.