Stephen Graham: The Politics of Urban Digital Infrastructures

Säälchen – Holzmarkt, Holzmarktstraße 25, 10243 Berlin

Already more than half of the world’s population lives in cities – and this number is growing. Modern cities depend largely on invisible infrastructures that usually only become noticeable when they cease functioning. Similarly, the internet is also a material infrastructure, although it is often portrayed as immaterial. The much-hyped ‘Smart Cities’ promise to digitise the urban merging of these two infrastructural layers. But what happens when they fail? Can cities be smart – and should they be in the first place? What are the interests and values embodied in these infrastructures? How do we make sure that cities in the digital society remain public spaces? How can they be designed to foster social benefits and not just commercial interests?

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