Urbanizing the Ambient: Why People Matter So Much in Smart Cities

Urbanizing the Ambient: Why People Matter So Much in Smart Cities

H. Patricia McKenna (AmbientEase, Canada)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2589-9.ch024
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The purpose of this chapter is to develop and explore the ambient urbanizing concept as a way to shed light on what happens at the urban level when people become more aware and attuned to smartness and ambience in everyday city spaces. The research design for this work includes a case study approach and multiple methods of quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis. In parallel with this study, anecdotal evidence gathered from individuals across the city through informal individual and group discussions enabled further analysis, comparison, and triangulation of data. This chapter makes a contribution to the research literature across multiple domains; sheds light on the emerging relationships of awareness in the people – technologies – cities dynamic, highlighting the critical role of people, in their everyday urban activities, interactions, and experiences; and offers a proposed ambient urbanizing framework for enriching spaces, things, and designs in smart cities.
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2. Background And Context

This chapter is motivated by the need for engaging people in more meaningful discussions about smart city phenomena. In response to the unprecedented challenges associated with rapid urban growth in the 21st century (Charoubi et al., 2012), Nam and Pardo (2011) articulate the smart cities concept as a way for cities to innovate themselves using information and communications technologies (ICTs). Gil-Garcia, Pardo, and Nam (2016) advance smarter as the new urban agenda while Ojo, Dzhusupova, and Curry (2016) identify current gaps in the smart cities research literature. Relevant to this chapter are the research gaps (Ojo et al, 2016) pertaining to the dimensions of education and of people and the research approach of living lab, as in real world everyday life. The smart city topic is present on the agenda of policy-makers, technology companies, and academics, yet city inhabitants do not seem to be involved in meaningful discussion about the concept and its implications for surveillance, privacy, inclusion and many other issues (Craglia & Granell, 2014). Further, the smart cities concept is said to be unfamiliar to more than 61% of the 1000 surveyed by Frost & Sullivan (Gamble, 2014). The concept has emerged as contested and controversial in the smart cities research literature (Greenfield, 2013) with utopian and dystopian visions (Townsend, 2014; Marvin, Luque-Ayala, and McFarlane, 2016, Hollands, 2016) and is articulated in terms of tensions and implications by futures researchers (IFTF, 2011). Smart cities have been evolving over the last decade (Scholl, 2016) yet Brandt (2015) notes a kind of obliviousness in the United Kingdom where “nearly 100 percent do not notice smart cities growing around them.”

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