Group 1 – Smart cities: democratic and regulatory challenges

  Group under guidance from University of Zurich and Yonsei University

This panel aims to discuss the democratic and regulatory challenges posed by the inrush of information and communication technologies in local governance processes. While the term “Smart city” has now become the new buzzword in urban development, social and political issues related to Smart cities have not yet really been taken up in the scientific debate. Existing approaches tend to consider technology as the defining feature of smart cities.

But technology by itself does not make a city smarter.

A political insight into Smart cities is crucial to analyze which role ICTs may play for the future of democracies. Understanding Smart cities is therefore not simply analyzing technological tools but also the complex socio-political structures in which technological artifacts are embodied. Bringing politics back to smart city approaches is essential for practitioners to be able to foresee how ICTs can (or do already) produce chances or challenges for democracy and how to adapt to these changing environments. Such a perspective raises, for instance, the following questions:

• How do traditional decision-making stakeholders see and cope with digital issues? What consequences do ICTs have on local administrative structures?

• How to manage the inrush of new private actors in local governing processes? How to deal with conflicting/differing objectives and expectations between private and public actors?

• Does smart/e-participation necessarily result in more democratic decision-making processes?