Smart Urban Futures: Outlining the Smart City Planning Project

  • Jenni Partanen Academy of Architecture and Urban Studies, Tõnismägi 14, Tallinn, Estonia, 10119
Keywords: Smart city, Models, Spatial Analytics, Urban Planning, Complexity, Uncertainty


Cities are constantly evolving complex systems, and ongoing digitalization is making them even more complex. The toolkit for urban scientists is expanding with computational methods from AI to machine learning, data mining and advanced spatial analyses. Together with vast amount of data of urban phenomena and new lifestyles emerging from virtuality and cybernetic systems, this ‘smartification’ makes the planning and analyses more challenging while providing new tools to respond to them. In this article I propose a project for better understanding and guiding the future smart city based on dynamic urban theories such as those studying complex adaptive systems, urban morphology, urban economy and mobility systems. I argue that we need to carry out empirical research on ongoing change to learn about novel, becoming spatial and functional patterns in the city, and apply both theories and imaginary visions to be able to grasp the likely qualitative transition in human’s life following the ubiquitous use of technology. The project is built around three coupled modules, urban space, mobility and urban economics, and it will be carried out in the city of Tallinn, Estonia.  The expected results would help planners, decision makers, urban scientists and developers to better understand the transition we are facing, to be able to support the change and steer it towards better social and economic outcomes.


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