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Social Justice and the Smart City

Building on interdisciplinary partnerships already nurtured through a SSHRC Connection grant, this working group will be established to advance research on what has been termed the “smart city.” Twinned patterns of urbanization and technology growth have converged into a digitallymediated, data-driven mode of urbanism that many have called “smart” (cf Albino, Berardi, & Dangelico, 2015; Allwinkle & Cruickshank, 2011; Angelidou, 2014; Batty, 2013). The smart city typically refers to urban environments instrumented with sensors, communication technologies, displays and other technologies that collect data on urban processes enabling informed decision making and control (Kitchin, 2013, 2015). Technologies in the smart city range from ride-sharing to smart grid infrastructure to air quality sensors to open data platforms. This broad topic area has quickly gained attention amongst scholars across disciplines, bringing new forms of expertise to questions of the city. Within this arena, this group is primarily concerned with social and environmental justice in the smart city, an area needing further research and development to answer critical questions related to political economy, sustainability, resilience, participation, democracy, discrimination and justice as they get wound up and embedded in cities and technologies. The complex nature of smart cities demands combining humanistic and social science frameworks and methods. To this end, the group seeks to bring together an interdisciplinary group of scholars (faculty and graduate students) from geography, history, sociology, communications, anthropology, political science, and environmental design interested in issues and developments in smart urbanism. The group plans to facilitate a weekly seminar, host guest speakers and visiting scholars, and apply for funding for future research.Themes will range from big data, urban technology, resilience, sustainability, digital humanities, digital cultures and ethnography, history of technology, software studies, and more.


Dr. Anthony M Levenda, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Geography
Dr. Ryan Burns, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography

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