What happens when urban infrastructure becomes smart? Who will control what is sensed, what is screened, and how people are connected? Where do these devices fit in the history of your city? What are the benefits and risks of these new kinds of street smarts?
In this joint project, supported by a University of Sydney-University of Glasgow Partnership Collaboration Award, we will research how new devices, such as smart benches in London and InLinks in Glasgow, will fit into existing cityscapes. We will scope, research and historically contextualise smart street furniture to understand whether and how these depart from and challenge values, uses and governance frameworks of pre-existing urban forms, remaking publics and cities in the process.
Smart publics: the social, design and governance implications of repurposing street furniture and pay phones with smart benches and smart kiosks, builds on research on smart cities by the research collaborators including a study on smart wifi kiosks in New York City by Dr Justine Humphry.
The Smart Publics Research Report is now available - click here to download (pdf, 3.2MB).
This project will address real-world issues and contribute to two of the University's key research themes, the future of technology and society, in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and smart urbanism in the Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning.
Explore our previous activities.
This seminar introduces the Smart Publics research collaboration between the University of Sydney and the University of Glasgow on the social, design, and governance implications of smart street furniture, drawubg on fieldwork in Glasgow, London and New York. We situate this research in a critical account of the privatisation of public space in cities and the role of smart urbanism as a trend accelerator. We explore these issues in the context of smart upgrades to street furniture like kiosks and benches, which are hybrid urban media objects purportedly installed to address barriers of access to information-communication networks. Yet we argue that these emerging forms of street furniture raise serious risks related to surveillance, data harvesting, and targeted advertising – which are unevenly distributed among users.
Wednesday 3 July 2019, University of Glasgow
Smart cities are starting to materialise in urban environments, unevenly and in various forms. The placement of sensors, chargers, digital screens and wi-fi points in streetscapes and objects interacts with people’s relationships to the urban environment, to one another and to services accessed in daily life. These hybrids, including smart benches, data points and smart vehicles are thoroughly interconnected with the city itself. Drawing on research in Germany, Australia, the United States and the UK, this roundtable will explore some of the key issues around smart developments such as mobilities, algorithms, governance and citizenship.