Keystone Practices to Enable Smart Cities to Flourish

  • Theresa Dirndorfer Anderson School of Information Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL., USA
Keywords: Data ethics, trust-building, codesign, creative ecology, community building, resilience, urban ecology


This paper draws on the notion of creative urban ecologies as a way to characterize a thriving ‘smart’ city both in terms of the technology and data in use and also in terms of the city’s capacity to learn and adapt. What does it take for a city and her inhabitants to remain resilient in the face of challenges like climate change or disease outbreaks? How does a global city use data effectively to deal with situations where information will inevitably remain incomplete, uncertain and dynamic? How can and should data serve the ultimate end goal of urban well-being? Drawing on the author’s own engagements with creative information practices, data ethics and trust-building strategies, the paper presents a human-centred approach to ‘smart city’ initiatives. Creating smarter cities calls upon us to work with a complex and ever-evolving mix of people within a built environment constructed upon an existing ecosystem using ever ‘smarter’ technologies. Thriving in and adapting to change in such contexts involves a capacity for imaginative problem solving and problem finding as much as it involves technical know-how. The paper offers a framework for building resilience into the fabric of an urban ecology, introducing four critical operating principles, and closes by speculating how supporting five keystone practices can create a city that is ‘smart’, sustainable and compassionate.



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