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Sensors and Civics: Toward a Community-centered Smart City

The Right to the Smart City

ISBN: 978-1-78769-140-7, eISBN: 978-1-78769-139-1

Publication date: 7 June 2019


The ability to gather, store, and make meaning from large amounts of sensor data is becoming a technological and financial reality for cities. Many of these initiatives are happening through deals brokered between vendors, developers, and cities. They are made manifest in the environment as infrastructure – invisible to citizens and communities. We assert that in order to have community-centered smart cities, we need to transform sensor data collection and usage from invisible infrastructure into visible and legible interface. In this chapter, we compare two different urban sensing initiatives and examine the methods used for feedback between sensors and people. We question how value gets produced and communicated to citizens in urban sensing projects and what kind of oversight and ethical considerations are necessary. Finally, we make a case for “seamful” interfaces between communities, sensors, and cities that reveal their inner workings for the purposes of civic pedagogy and dialogue.




Parts of this chapter will be published as “Seamful Interfaces for a Community-centered Smart City” in the Leonardo Electronic Almanac in their forthcoming special issue on “Urban Interfaces.”


D’Ignazio, C., Gordon, E. and Christoforetti, E. (2019), "Sensors and Civics: Toward a Community-centered Smart City", Cardullo, P., Di Feliciantonio, C. and Kitchin, R. (Ed.) The Right to the Smart City, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 113-124.



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