Smart Cities and the Internet: From Mode 2 to Triple Helix Accounts of their Evolution

Smart Cities and the Internet: From Mode 2 to Triple Helix Accounts of their Evolution

Mark Deakin (Edinburgh Napier University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8282-5.ch002
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This chapter challenges recent mode 2 accounts of smart cities and in particular, the idea they are an index of the future internet. Adopting the triple helix model of knowledge production, it studies smart cities, not as the emergent technologies of economic transactions, but in terms of civil society's support for the integration of Web2.0-based information and communication platforms into their regional innovation systems. This reveals that no matter how technologically advanced such an internet-driven reinvention of cities may appear, being smart is something which reaches beyond this. Beyond this and towards policies, leadership qualities and corporate strategies that not only serve the knowledge economy, but which are also smart in allowing cities to cultivate the creativity of the internet as the information and communication technologies of regional innovation systems.
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Over the past decade, cities have increasingly become the object of academic interest, scientific and technical study. Examples of this appear in the work of Landry (2008), Komninos (2008) and Hollands (2008) on the innovation of creative, intelligent and smart cities. Collectively they serve to highlight some of the most pressing socio-demographic issues currently facing the scientific and technical community: the need for cities to be(come) innovative hubs and creative milieus and requirement for their institutions to not only be intelligent, but smart. Together they also do much to map out the institutional setting for the scientific and technical community to begin learning about the knowledge base of smart city developments. Separately they also offer a series of critical insights into how little the scientific and technical community currently knows about either the innovation, or creativity underpinning such developments, let alone the basis of any intelligence supporting this transition to smart cities (Deakin & Al Waer, 2011).

What follows proposes that nowhere are these limitations better illustrated than in the notion of smart cities recently advanced by Schaffers et al. (2011), Komninos et al. (2012) and Komninos and Tsarchopoulos (2012). In particular, the idea advanced that smart cities are an index of the future internet and digital technologies which they draw upon to service such developments. What the chapter shall argue runs contrary to this. For it shall propose: smart cities are not an index of the future internet, but instead developments whose full significance can only be understood by challenging the scientific and technical basis of the “mode 2” accounts such statements currently stand on. That is to say, by challenging the basis such future internet statements stand on and replacing them with triple helix accounts of smart city developments able to account for their evolution (Leydesdorff & Deakin, 2011; Deakin & Leydesdorff, 2013).

Against this backdrop, the second part of this chapter examines the shift from the so-called “mode-2” to triple helix accounts of the relationship between smart city developments and the internet. Drawing upon the critical insights this offers, the third part of the chapter examines the ongoing reconstruction of Montreal and Edinburgh as smart cities and reflects on the critical role the internet plays in their development. The fourth part of the chapter draws upon all of these insights and offers an alternative account of the evolving relationship between smart cities and the internet.

Structured in this way, the chapter avoids the current temptation there is to try and define smart cities by reference to either some pre-defined metrics, or the performance related assessment such developments are associated with. Here any such definitions are set aside because they relate to the very mode 2 thinking this chapter aims to challenge, expose the limitations of and replace with a triple helix inspired account of smart city developments. The definition this chapter aligns with is that offered by Caragliu et al. (2011, p. 70) which suggests a city may only claim to be smart:

… when investments in human and social capital and traditional (transport) and modern (ICT) communication infrastructure fuel sustainable economic growth and a high quality of life, with a wise management of natural resources, through participatory government.

This definition is particularly valuable for the simple reason its holistic nature nicely balances the different social, cultural and economic components of smart city developments, without pre-judging either the weight or significance of one relative to the other. Perhaps more significantly, the definition also serves to emphasise the role ICT-related developments play in sustaining economic recovery, underpinning social welfare and supporting cultural health and well-being, by highlighting the internet as an enabler of participatory government.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Knowledge Transfer: The practical problem of transferring knowledge from one part of the organization to another (or all other) parts of the organization. It seeks to organize, create, capture or distribute knowledge and ensure its availability for future users. It is more than just a communication problem and more complex because: knowledge resides in organizational members, tools, tasks, and their sub-networks and much of the knowledge organizations have is tacit or hard to articulate in direct communication.

Triple Helix: In this model, three spheres are defined institutionally (university, industry, and government) as interactions, mediated across otherwise defended boundaries, both by way of communication systems and through the technological innovations, they generate. The interfaces among these different functions operate in a distributed mode that produce knowledge of these communication systems and technical innovations. While communication and technical innovation are fundamental to this process of knowledge production, in a scientific based knowledge economy, growth serves to intensify the environmental and cultural complexity of these interactions and act as a means for civil society to capitalize on the intelligence such an institutionalization of wealth creation generates.

Digital inclusion: Encompasses activities related to the achievement of an inclusive information society. In this vein, new developments in technology turns the risk of a digital divide into “digital cohesion” and opportunity, bringing the benefit of the internet and related technology into all segments of the population, including people who are disadvantaged due to education, disabilities, gender, ethnicity, or those living in remote regions. Digital inclusion covers mainly the development of appropriate policies, maintenance of a knowledge base, research and technology development and deployment and best practices dissemination.

Co-Design: Here there is an understanding that all human artifacts are designed and with a purpose. In the process of co-design, communities try to include the views and opinions of others when designing products, because it is recognized the quality of the goods and services developed increases if the stakeholder’s collective interests are accounted for.

Open Source Software: Computer software for which the human-readable source code is available under a copyright license, or arrangement. This permits users to use, change, and improve the software, and to redistribute it in modified or unmodified form. It is developed in a collaborative manner.

Community: The term is derived from the word communité , which is derived from the Latin communitas ( cum , “with/together” + munus , “gift”), a broad term for fellowship or organized society. In biological terms, a community is a group of interacting species sharing an environment. In human communities, intent, belief, resources, preferences, needs, risks, and a number of other conditions may be present and common, affecting the identity of the participants and their degree of cohesiveness. In sociology, the concept of community has led to significant debate, and sociologists are yet to reach agreement on a definition of the term. Traditionally a “community” is defined as a group of interacting people, living in a common location. The word is often used to refer to a group organized around common values and is attributed with social cohesion within a shared geographical location, generally in social units larger than a household. The word can also refer to the national community or global community. Since the advent of the Internet, the concept of community no longer has geographical limitations, as people can now virtually gather in an online community and share common interests as citizens regardless of physical location.

Capacity Building: Refers to assistance, provided to organisations, which have a need to develop a certain skill or competence, or a general upgrading of performance ability. Most capacity is built by society, sometimes in the public, on other occasions in the non-governmental and independent sectors. They are activities, which strengthen the knowledge, abilities, skills and behaviour of individuals and improve institutional structures and processes, so organization can efficiently meet its mission and goals in a sustainable way.

E-Government Services: Are internet technologies that act as a platform for exchanging information, providing services and transacting with citizens, businesses, and other arms of government. Such e-Government services include: pushing information over the Internet, e.g. regulatory services, general holidays, public hearing schedules, issue briefs, notifications, etc; two-way communications between the agency and the citizen, a business, or another government agency. In this model, users can engage in dialogue with agencies and post problems, comments, or requests to the agency; conducting transactions, e.g. lodging tax returns, applying for services and grants; governance, e.g. online polling, voting, and campaigning. The most important anticipated benefits of e-government include improved efficiency, convenience, and better accessibility of public services.

Governance: Is the activity of governing. It relates to decisions that define expectations, grant power, or verify performance. In terms of distinguishing the term governance from government - “governance” is what a “government” does. It might be a geo-political government (nation-state), a corporate government (business entity), a socio-political government (tribe, family, etc.), or any number of different kinds of government. But, irrespective of this, governance is the kinetic exercise of managing power and administering policy.

E-Learning: A general term used to refer to a form of learning in which the instructor and student are separated by space or time where the gap between the two is bridged through the use of online technologies. The term is used interchangeably in a wide variety of contexts and can be used to define a specific mode to attend a course or programmes of study where learners rarely, if ever, attend face-to-face contact, or rely upon such direct support.

Community Of Practice: Groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they regularly interact with one another as knowing subjects.

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