CALL TO URBANIZE TECHNOLOGY
For years, the Smart City has been the ultimate form of urban progress. This concept can be defined as the use of information technologies to improve the quality of life of citizens while reducing the operating costs for cities and urban stakeholders. The ongoing digital transformation, the abundance of urban data and the emergence of Artificial Intelligence technologies supported this vision as cities around the world became “smarter”.
Despite this hype, a growing opposition began to surface. In both Europe and North America, citizens increasingly distrust urban monitoring and claim more digital rights . In Asia, from the Middle East to South East, several Smart Cities such as Masdar and Songdo struggle to attract residents.
We believe that this global failure highlights a conceptual deficiency.
In the Smart City paradigm, quality of life is mainly quantified via the consumption of urban services and goods. Therefore, technology is used to optimize the city.
This approach has its benefits. Optimization of urban services such as water management, urban logistics and infrastructure maintenance can contribute to safer and more efficient cities. To some extent, smart grids make cheaper and greener energy possible while digital tools can foster civic engagement.
However, on its own, this paradigm is incomplete . Cities are more than an optimized platform offering a frictionless user experience. Civic participation cannot be reduced to data transmission and human beings are not machines. In contrast, we believe that:
1. Cities are owned by people. Streets and parks are shaped by the desire to share a destiny. Places embody our social instincts and our need to gather. In that way, cities materialize our social contract. They are the common ground for generations.
2. Cities are incomplete. They evolve and transform over time. Exactly as if urban materiality was malleable. This plasticity allows us to dwell a city, to extend it and to reconfigure spaces. People do not only own the city, they constantly make it.
3. Cities are complex systems . Complexity is order in heterogeneity. Likewise, cities are balanced by a bottom-up dynamic: urban density and social interactions contribute to distribute rationality and spread information. These welcoming collisions of singularities and cultures make cosmopolitanism possible. That is why cities are where diversity can flourish and thrive.
4. Cities are lands of liberty and opportunities. They are places of encounters and exploration. Encounter with other singularities and exploration of new cultures. These frictions give rise to freedom. It allows self-accomplishment through the interaction with otherness. It gives us the possibility to become who we are.
5. Cities are full of meaning. They host the daily story of people, communities and civilisations. This urban narrative reminds us that, “poetically, humans dwell upon the earth” .
6. Cities are not artificial bubbles. They are part of the biosphere and must echo this fundamental truth. Urbanity depends on our ability to live in a sustainable way and to fulfil our biophilia.
Each time a technology atrophies one of these qualities, it de-urbanizes the city.
We believe that in addition to optimize cities, we must urbanize technology . That is, designing and developing technologies that promote urbanity and cityness.
Considering our six urban principles, urbanized technologies are:
1. Situated. They emanate from a social contract, a culture and a geography.
2. Open. They are accessible for all and evolutive.
3. Decentralized. They empower communities and are equally distributed.
4. Frictional. They encourage exploration through interactions.
5. Meaningful. They amplify human speech.
6. Ecological. They are frugal and low carbon.
None of these features are incompatible with contemporary technologies. Sensors can turn into interfaces. Data and codes can become transparent and understandable to all.
Algorithms can ease exploration and wandering. Social Media can be decentralized and frictional. Digital can serve the urban narrative.
The only limitation to reinvent urban technologies is our imagination.
We are convinced it is time to complete the Smart City paradigm and to urbanize technology. It is high time to dwell again upon the earth.
 This citizen resistance has even led to the abandonment of smart city projects, for example in Toronto and Los Angeles.
 There is now an extensive literature on this conceptual deficiency. Among others: The Smart Enough City by Ben Green, Building and Dwelling : Ethics for the City by Richard Senett and Undoing Optimization by Alison B. Powell.
 To be accurate, they are open complex systems interacting with the outside. It also means that their modelization is always incomplete.
 Hölderlin, The Ister.
 Saskia Sassen, Open Source Urbanism in Domus (2011) and Urbanized Technology in URBAN AI (H. Beroche et al., 2020).
Call to Urbanize Technology by Urban AI is made available under the terms of the licence Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International.
Based on a work at https://urbanai.fr/call/
If you agree with the Call and want to sign it, you can fill in this Google Form:
|Saskia Sassen||Professor at Columbia University|
|Carlos Moreno||Co-Founder & Scientific Director ETI Chair – Pantheon Sorbonne University|
|Cédric Villani||Fields Medal Laureate and French Deputy|
|Luc Julia||Chief Scientific Officer at Renault|
|Alex Pentland||Professor MIT Connection Science, Sloan IDE and Media Laboratory|
|Jean Rottner||President of the Regional Council of Grand Est|
|Nigel Jacob||Co-Founder - Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics (City of Boston)|
|Hélène Chartier||Head of Zero Carbon Development at C40|
|Frédéric Mazzella||Founder and President of BlaBlaCar and Co-President of France Digitale|
|Thomas Cottinet||Head of ECOLAB – French Ministry of the Ecological Transition|
|Hubert Beroche||Founder of Urban AI|
|Akim Oural||Deputy Mayor - City of Lille|
|Marius Hartmann||Chief Advisor at the Danish Business Authority|
|Nuria Oliver||Chief Scientific Advisor at the Vodafone Institute and Chief Scientific Advisor of ELLIS Alicante Foundation|
|Olivier Sichel||President of Digital New Deal Foundation|
|Dr. Nadina Galle||Ecological Engineer & Technologist|
|Eric Costa||Président Citynove - Directeur Immobilier Groupe Galeries Lafayette|
|Pascal Bornet||Chief Data Officer at Area Technology|
|Elise Buckle||President of Climate & Sustainability|
|Olivier Corradi||CEO of Tomorrow|
|Sasha Luccioni||Postdoctoral Researcher at Université de Montréal and Computational Social Scientist at UN Global Pulse|
|Francky Trichet||Vice-President of Nantes Métropoles|
|Julien Villalongue||Managing Director Leonard (VINCI group)|
|Carolina Pan||Director of Research, Power for All|
|Philippe Beaudoin||CEO of Waverly|
|Stefaan G. Verhulst||Co-Founder and Chief of R&D, The GovLab|
|Tom Benson||Research Fellow + Project Lead @ MIT Senseable City Lab|
|Albane Godard||Consultant in Innovation and Urban Development|
|Suzanne Fritelli||Co-Founder of BuildrZ|
|Jose Carpio-Pinedo||Researcher - Universidad Complutense de Madrid|
|Robert Heinecke||Founder & CEO, Breeze Technologies|
|Ariela Valverde||Architect and Urban Planner|
|Aurelien COTTET||International Sales Director|
|Marc Oppenheim||CEO CREDIT AGRICOLE IMMOBILIER|
|Florent Orsoni||Directeur du city design lab - L'Ecole de design Nantes Atlantique|
|Charles-Edouard Delpierre||General Manager Urban at Tractebel|
|JEAN-GABRIEL GANASCIA||Professeur des universités (Sorbonne Université)|
|Adrienne Schmoeker||Former Director of Civic Engagement and Strategy, Deputy Chief Analytics Officer for the City of New York|
|Steve Grimes||Assistant Director of Data Analytics|
|Caroline Lébrard||Créatrice du podcast Felicity|
|Arthur Lapeyrère||Architect, VDC Expert & Data Analyst|
|Emmanuel LEGER||CEO of Cyclope.ai|
|Laurence Liew||Director AI Singapore|
|Laura Narvaez Zertuche||Associate Partner, Urban Designer|
|Antoine Martin||Deputy Mayor, responsible for Open Data, and Digital Public Service - City of Tours|
|Diana Filippova||Author of Technopouvoir, dépolitiser pour mieux régner|
|Emmanuelle Ripert||Bordeaux Metropolis|
|Iacopo Testi||Data scientist & Urban Technologist|
|Stephan van Dijk||Director of Innovation at AMS Institute|
|Yann Ferguson||Expert - Global Partnership on AI|
|Rafael Luna||Co-Founder of PRAUD|
|Fabienne Billat||Digital and Communications Consultant|
|DELPIERRE Charles-Edouard||General Manager Urban at Tractebel|
|Khalid Boudrari||Founder & CEO @KlickyX|
|Didier Chabaud||Director of ETI Chair - IAE Sorbonne Business School|
|Guillaume Loizeaud||Construction division Director / Batimat & Mondial du Batiment Director and Président and Founder of Habitatscopie.fr|
|TG Sitharam||DIRECTOR, IIT Guwahati|
|Anne Speicher||Managing Partner Baumschlager Eberle Architekten|
|Aurel von Richthofen||Urban Researcher|
|Shany Barath||Assistant Professor at Technion Israel Institute of Technology, Co-Founder of ShaGa Architects|
|Beatriz Botero Arcila||Co-founder Edgelands Institute|
|SAYON PRAMANIK||Assistant Professor- National Institute of Technology Raipur, India|
|DUGROSPREZ Teddy||Étudiant dans le génie climatique, l'efficacité énergétique et le développement durable|
|Ariel Noyman||MIT City Science|
|Stéphane Roche||University professor|
|Margaux de Montaigne||Sales|
|Alain Renk||Co-Founder of Open Urbanism Foundation Geneva and 7 Billion Urbanists Network|
|Aurelie Paulet||Asset Manager|
|Clarisse Barré||Asset manager|
|Étienne Tabareau||Directeur Général|
|Jacques PRIOL||CEO CIVITEO|
|Nikola Milojevic-Dupont||PhD candidate at MCC Berlin|
|Flawizky Nicolas||Architecte DPLG cyberneticien|
|Terpant charlotte||Asset manager|
|Clara Mosconi||Asset manager|
|Dan Saattrup Nielsen||Research Associate in Machine Learning|
|Kris Libunao||Executive Director, SmartCT|
|Boisnel ludivine||Directeur d’opérations|
|Kevin Webb||Director, SharedStreets|
|Eric Cassar||ARKHENSPACES principal architect|
|Andres Gomez-Lievano||Scientist and Consultant|
|Antonio Caloro||Ceo-Environ Governance The Ultimate Multishape Urban Batteries|
|Dilip Guna||Manager - Smart Sustainable Cities|
|Juan Murillo Arias||Urban Planner and Engineer|
|Carine Bachmann||Director, Département of culture and digital transition, City of Geneva|
|Cedric Renzi||Scientific Software Development Engineer - Modelling & Simulation for design and systems Engineering|
|Stephane Franiatte||Director of analytical software r&d|
|Ajay Kumar Sinha||Professor in Civil Engineering, NIT Patna|
|Kee Moon Jang||PhD candidate|
|Laurent Bouillot||Ceo of Siradel|
|Laura Brown||Research professor in architecture and sociology|
|Naira Hovakimyan||Professor UIUC|
|Megan Sobczyk||Architect | BIM Manager|
|Tania papasotiriou||Industry educator|
|Claire Flurin||Head of R&D|
|Benoît Kieffer||Bike activist & digital sobriety thinker|
|Dominique.diouf||Head of Exploration|
|Hussein Orekoya||Sustainability Consultant|
|Vasseur Cédric||AI, Robotic Expert|
|Lucas Fradin||Responsable financier|
|Anna Craciun||Partnership Manager|
|Nelly Cornejo||President & Founder - Taal Project|
|Sid Rahman||Head of Global Sales|
|Vincent Tourre||Associate Professor at Centrale Nantes|
|Wendy W Fok||Creative Technologist, Architectural Designer, Futurist|
|Sergio Dos Santos||CSO ARtools|
|Gustavo Maldonado||Spatial Data Scientist|
|yves daccord||executive chairman Edgelands Institute|
|Alejandro Cantera||Urban Data Scientist and Architect|
|Benoit Bergeret||Executive director, METALAB for data, technology and society, ESSEC Business School|
|Remy Bourganel||Chief Startegist|
|Antoine Verhulst||Data Analyst|
|Adriel Alvarez-Perez||Business Developer - Bluspark|
|Charles Kantor||Founder & CEO at KLASS Labs￨Stanford University|
|Michel Mathieu||Directeur Général de LCL et Directeur Général Adjoint de Crédit Agricole S.A.|
|Alexander Jachnow||Urban Strategist and Researcher at IHS, Erasmus University Rotterdam|
|David Hick||Architect / Researcher / Consultant Intelligent City Systems|
|Nayla Saniour||Urban consultant|
|Philippe BOYER||Directeur innovation|
|ANJALI GUPTA||Assistant Professor|
|Mennatullah Hendawy||Research associate|
|Ernest Kwan||Head of Data and Analytics, Water and Waste, City of Winnipeg|
|Surjyatapa Ray||Architect/ Urbanist|
|Raymond Chetti||Co-founder & CEO at XAI Land|
|Mennatullah Hendawy||Researcher and lecturer assistant|
|Shuva Chowdhury||Lecturer in Architectural Technology|
|Jens Ulrik Jørgensen||PhD fellow|
|George Tchanturia||Associate Professor at AlterBridge University|