TRAI-IIITB
Talk by Dr. Katharine S. Willis, Associate Professor (Reader), Plymouth University was held on January 11, 2018
Jan 11, 2018

Title of the talk: Whose right to the Smart City?

About the Talk: The smart city approach tends to focus on solutions to be applied top-down, and therefore, fails to address particular issues related to different types of marginalised communities. In examples where it does foster citizen engagement the projects fail to provide the appropriate tools for communities informed decisions and can in fact reinforce marginalisation rather than challenge it. Therefore, in this talk she focused on some of those excluded by smart city projects; the urban poor, street traders and those who live in informal settlements and explore the way in which they access and participate in the city. She draws on empirical work undertaken in India and Brazil where we have investigated the way in which smart city projects (such as the India Smart Cities Mission (2017)) are being planned and implemented and the corresponding implications for marginalized communities. She argued that there is a need to recognize the value of a range of everyday, small-scale ways in which citizens employ technologies and data that meet their needs in a social and spatially embedded context. In this way we outline how marginalized people may be empowered to have what Lefebvre describes as ‘the right to the oeuvre, to participation and appropriation’ (1996, p.173) in urban space.

The research outlined in the talk is supported by the AHRC International Research network ‘Whose Right to the Smart City? (whosesmartcity.net) and partnered with Citizen consumer and civic Action Group (CAG) (https://www.cag.org.in/), Chennai, India.  

About the Speaker: Katharine S. Willis is Associate Professor (Reader), School of Art, Design and Architecture at Plymouth University, where she has been based since 2011. She is part of the Digital Cities research cluster at the university, which investigates augmented urbanism, smart cities and ICTs for placemaking. Her research examines the impact of ICTs on place-based settings and communities. She has worked extensively with participatory research within a range of spatial settings, and recent projects explore the implications of ICT projects for marginalized communities both in UK and the developing world. She is the co-author of Digital and Smart Cities (Routledge 2017), author of Netspaces: Space and Place in a Networked World(Routledge 2016), co-editor of Locative Media (Transcript), Shared Encounters (Springer) and Media City (Franke and Timme). Katharine Willis attained a doctorate (magna cum laude) from the Bauhaus University Weimar, Germany, and a Masters (commendation) in Architecture from University College London, UK.