The purpose of this paper is to trace how the relationship between city governments and citizens has developed over time with the introduction of urban informatics and smart city technology.
The argument presented in the paper is backed up by a critical review approach based on a transdisciplinary assessment of social, spatial and technical research domains.
Smart cities using urban informatics can be categorised into four classes of maturity or development phases depending on the qualities of their relationship with their citizenry. The paper discusses the evolution of this maturity scale from people as residents, consumers, participants, to co-creators.
The paper’s contribution has practical implications for cities wanting to take advantage of urban informatics and smart city technology. First, recognising that technology is a means to an end requires cities to avoid technocratic solutions and employ participatory methodologies of urban informatics. Second, the most challenging part of unpacking city complexities is not about urban data but about a cultural shift in policy and governance style towards collaborative citymaking. The paper suggests reframing the design notion of usability towards “citizen-ability”.
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