Nightlife in Smart Public Spaces

Nightlife in Smart Public Spaces

Hisham Abusaada (Housing and Building National Research Centre (HBRC), Egypt) and Abeer Elshater (Ain Shams University, Egypt)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7004-3.ch001
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Every smart city has digital technology, but not every city has a digital technology called ‘smart'. This chapter focuses on the impact of digital technologies on nightlife in public spaces. The literature describes the third place as a dramatic zone of situations that articulate current events, referring to the urban nightlife atmosphere as a type of transformation of daily life. The conclusion reveals the importance of understanding cognitive and environmental adaptations to describe daily social life at night. The main finding is that smart city elements differ in terms of technological and digital components. The right description of smart cities and nightlife design will help to plan and develop public spaces in cities.
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In the lively public square of Fatimid Cairo’s Mosque of Al-Hussein, we sat with our colleagues in a quiet place amidst the crowds gathered at the tables for Iftar’s Ramadan. Moments passed, and we noticed that the urban nightlife that characterises this public space had become a problem worth considering. That evening, we discussed two phenomena: the transformations of urban nightlife in some public spaces, which turned into a search for the most important causes of these profound changes in urban nightlife and their effects on people and place levels, and use of conventional technology elements, which some people refer to as ‘digital’ or ‘smart’.

In the modern era, many approaches in the field of urban studies deal with everyday life based on sustainability and liveability, such as ‘new urbanism’, ‘everyday urbanism’, and ‘post-urbanism’ (Elshater & Abusaada, 2016; Crawford & Speaks, 2004; Kelbaugh, 2000). In addition, several research groups have been working on the design of smart cities (Cocchia, 2014), smart and digital cities (Gargiulo & Tremiterra, 2015), smart citizens (Hill, 2013), and smart technologies (Zhang & He, 2020), and much research has shown the impact of digital or smart technology on the atmospheres of public spaces. Sumartojo and Edensor, in research conducted between 2014 and 2017, discussed the impact of digital technology on the changes in everyday life experience in the city (Edensor & Sumartojo, 2018). In addition, they conducted several studies on festive and commemorative atmospheres (Edensor & Sumartojo, 2015; Sumartojo, 2016). The atmosphere of a city’s nightlife has been a topic of a number of studies (Kalinauskaite, Haans, Kort, & Ijsselsteijn, 2018; Shaw, 2014).

A city is smart when it invests in human and social capital, traditional infrastructure, disruptive technologies, and prudent management of natural resources through public participation (Deloitte, 2015). It becomes smartly sustainable when it uses big data, such as instrumentation, datafication, computerisation, and related applications (Bibri, 2019). Boucher et al. (2020) advocate a rapid turnover of disruptive technologies in smart cities. Disruptive digital technologies aim to invent an entirely new way of getting something done, including e-commerce, online news sites, ride-sharing apps, and Geographical Information System (GPS) (Radu, 2020). In this way, a smart society can benefit from available, contemporary, or scalable technologies (Boucher, Bentzen, Lațici, & Madiega, 2020). Abusaada and Elshater (2021) added to the previously mentioned issues the principles of placemaking to create smart cities to foster city singularity. At this point in the debate, we felt that urban nightlife atmospheres are linked with and affected by these technologies. Moreover, the technology that appears smart in these public spaces is little more than ‘quasi-smart’, which is nothing more than the authors’ suggested description of cities and places that people believe are smart. This belief is due to the widespread use of traditional or digital technology elements; despite lacking the requirements of smart components, they are similar to and not synonymous with smart cities. Quasi-smart a term is sometimes used to distinguish between smart cities and other cities that are described as smart (O'Hea, 2019).

We see that every smart city has digital technology, but not every city has digital technology called ‘smart’. Let us illustrate the problem with a simple example taken from a visual image produced by artificial lighting in public urban spaces. Billboards on building walls and shop rooftops with colour-changing lighting are not connected to smart technologies. However, as digital technologies spread in many developing countries, some people think that cities have become smart, but this is incorrect, as these technologies are not related to smartness. Therefore, this chapter supports the idea that quasi-smart transitions influence nightlife in public spaces.

Here, we see a problem synonymous with the common problem of urban nightlife atmospheres in public places that are not adapted to socio-morphological changes. However, the crucial issue was the difference between smart and non-smart technologies, especially in some public spaces. In this chapter, we address urban studies aimed at improving public spaces on the basis of three concepts: smart cities, everyday life transformations, and nightlife atmospheres. Daily changes in everyday life are due to the deterioration of atmospheres in urban nightlife and the unpredictability of urban planning and design outcomes. The purpose of this study is to provide community-focused analytical tools, particularly in public spaces.

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