An excellent example of story-telling

The dominant image of the smart city is that of a place where state-of-the-art technology helps to overcome wicked urban problems. In my newest blog post I paraphrase a publication of Ola Söderström, Smart City as Corporate Stort Telling. This article is disclosing how IBM and other tech companies crafted the image of smart cities in a for them profitable way.


Herman van den Bosch's picture
Herman van den Bosch

Probably the biggest problem with IBM (and other tech companies) is its reductionism: Assuming that the 9 - 11 urban systems (from a large control center) will be the main step to solve a city's problems. Ola Söderström (and more in particular Robert Hollands) refer repeatedly to Harvey's work about the entrepreneurial city. Personally I would recommend studying cities from a complexity point of view. I agree totally with your last remark. In essence this viewpoint implies humility with reference to the possibility of any form of 'central' control and accepting that a smart city thrives with unpredictable, unexpected and even partly unwelcome initiatives from its citizens. That is what I meant bij Smart City 3.0. (see an earlier article). In my view Amsterdam is - probably without realising - developing into this direction and in this approach ASC's community is vital, but needs much more support to become a 'real' community (remember the platform approach, I have been writing about). That was the topic of the recent exchange of messages between you and me. We could elaborate this later....

Luc Baardman🏃☕️'s picture
Luc Baardman🏃☕️

What I found most strikingly in the Söderström article is that Ola argues that IBM positions itself as an Obligatory Passing Point (OPP), in which cities are almost forced to go to IBM when it comes to Smart City advise. It perhaps is what Harvey already said in 1989 this shift to the entrepreneurial city, where you won't have to be surprised to find a CEO in a mayor's office. The private sector is infiltrating the public sector, also in cities that adopt Smart strategies. Not that I'm totally against this change, I leave this aside, but I do hope that the alternatives you mention acknowledge that cities are one of the most complex things ever built by men, and that wicked urban problems can't solely be solved by technology.