Billboards, Smartness, and Nightlife Atmospheres in Old Cairo

Billboards, Smartness, and Nightlife Atmospheres in Old Cairo

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7004-3.ch014
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This chapter explores the random configurations of lighting elements of billboards and outdoor screens in historical public spaces. This chapter built a theoretical base on a systematic review of research indexed in Web of Science (WOS) as hot topics and highly cited in the field published in the last five years. Reflecting on the case of Old Cairo, the argument distinguishes between the three concepts of smartness—smart city, smart community, and smart places—and identifies the differences between conventional places and smart technology. The change in urban nightlife atmospheres and the loss of belonging are the main findings of systematic research for how to reconstruct nightlife atmospheres to enhance belonging in public spaces in Cairo's old districts. A critique of the transformation of nightlife atmospheres in public spaces of historic significance is offered due to the random use of technological elements, whether implemented by local authorities or residents. Findings also have implications for urban planning and design guidelines.
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One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug. He lay on his armour-hard back and saw, as he lifted his head up a little, his brown, arched abdomen divided up into rigid bow-like sections. From this height the blanket, just about ready to slide off completely, could hardly stay in place. His numerous legs, pitifully thin in comparison to the rest of his circumference, flickered helplessly before his eyes (Franz Kafka, 1915).

Kafka’s (2015) apocalyptic alteration of the main character in The Metamorphosis is similar to what has occurred in the transformations of some historical cities in the Global South. In some of these public places, the chaos of illuminated billboards and outdoor screens, whether traditional or digital, and their contrast with the characteristics of urban environments is a noteworthy issue (Chmielewski et al., 2016). Research has documented the chaos that has a noticeable effect on changing the atmosphere of urban nightlife (Eldridge, 2019; van Liempt, 2015). This change reflects on the residents’ and visitors’ sense of belonging to the place or their reluctance to visit (Shaw, 2014). However, there is still much work to be done in this area.

Hence, the apparent problem is this mishmash can often appear compounded twofold. The first aspect is the worsening of harmful factors during and after the completion of some development projects due to the lack of proper application of urban planning and design guidelines. The second is that these random interventions from the new development projects may occur later by the citizens, themselves, many of whom are residents or owners of commercial and entertainment establishments there. Meanwhile, local authorities and citizens’ interventions are also critical in creating diverse urban nightlife atmospheres in public places and avoiding the impacts of change on the unstudied interventions of the illuminated billboards and outdoor screens (Begg, 1999; Kresl, 2013; Li, Hu, Huang, & Duan, 2017; Walters, 2011; Yigitcanlar, et al., 2018).

This chapter focuses on the side effects of the elements of contemporary technology that might change cities’ images and, consequently, the sense of belonging. Urban nightlife atmospheres emerge here as a setting with two implications. The first is how the illuminated billboards and outdoor screens in public places spread. The second concerns how citizens and local municipal authorities might take part in the random intervention for these intrusions. The chapter also explores more precise approaches for developing shapes, sizes, and organizations of illuminated billboards and outdoor screens in public places in historic cities. A more concise understanding of this approach is required to develop the urban nightlife atmospheres in a way that enhances the sense of belonging. Accordingly, our objective is to present new insights into restricting the random interventions related to these conventional places to configure the illuminated billboards and outdoor screens, whether this is done by citizens or local authorities. Moreover, this intent may lead to reconstructing urban nightlife atmospheres to enhance the sense of belonging in the historic public places in Cairo.

This chapter is a systematic review of past scholarship with a few current sources with one section of direct observation. The selection of literature was from journals indexed in Web of Science (WOS). Scanning English literature included in 2020 Journal Citation Report (JCR) yielded 214 articles in 8 journals. Then, data mining focused on words 'Smart' OR 'Billboard' OR 'Nightlife' AND 'Atmospheres' OR 'Nocturnal.' Refine process also selected the highly cited and hot papers in the field. The results yielded 20 articles in the last five years. The field inclusion was limited to 'Urban and Regional Planning' AND 'Environmental Studies' AND 'Urban Studies' AND 'Geography.' The exclusion was for the articles that out of the scope of listed categories like marketing science, business and cleaner production. Going beyond the selection of literature published in last five years, this chapter also go back to other pieces of research and myographs that document the same issue of investigation.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Place Attachment: This term is concerned with the affective and positive emotional links and bond that might emerged between a person and place he lives, work or exist in it. This link is highly affected by persons themselves and their personal experiences. The bond also aspects like behavior, affect, and cognition that effect having the sense of place attachment.

Spatial Encroachment: This term was used in this chapter to refer to the misusage constructions of elements or city services that happen because of unplanned activities by users

Smart Cities: A smart city is an urban area that uses various kinds of electrical means and sensors to assemble data. Insights gained from that data are used to manage assets, resources and services efficiently; in return, that data is used to improve the operations across the city and facilitate users’ daily life.

Sense of Belonging: Is the psychological feeling of belonging or connectedness to a social, spatial, cultural, professional, or other type of group or a community. Here the sense of belonging is much close to the bond to ethnographic groups or/and people of the same interest.

Smart Growth: Is an urban planning and transportation-focused approach that concentrates growth in compact, walkable urban centers to avoid unplanned sprawl. In creating smart growth, ten principles should be considered. These principles are mixed land uses, compact design, various housing opportunities, walkable neighborhoods, beautiful community with a sense of place, eco-friendly dimension, oriented development toward the local communities, variety of transportation choices, the make of predictable, fair, and cost-effective development decisions and finally the trans-disciplinary decisions by scholars, community and stakeholders.

Quasi-Smart Places: This chapter uses this concept term in referring to places that were planned and designed to be smart with smart technology. However, the implementation of these places ends with equipment of smartness, but users’ basics could not be simplified or eased in their daily life.

Smart Places: Use technology and data driven solutions to improve the quality of life for communities. These paces should have the customers at the centre and deliver benefits for citizens, businesses and communities.

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