UBC Graduate Research

Programming Place : The Question of the Smart City Scott, Alex


The Internet of Things and the lure of smart cities are poised to revolutionize the urban areas of North America. Digital technology has introduced ubiquitous communication and influenced the organization of urban areas in North America, and together this has changed the ways in which people use urban public spaces. Now, the possibilities of the integration of digital technology into the physical infrastructure of the city has technology companies eager to partner with municipalities to realize the economic and managerial benefits of big data. The realities of the implementation of the smart city concept, however, has raised myriad concern around the role of private interests in public life with regards to privacy, ownership, control, and inequality. Many of these concerns play out in public spaces, as they are integral to the enactment of public life in cities while also increasingly funded, and therefore influenced, by private interests. What, then, are future programmatic and technological possibilities for urban public space that seize the opportunities while addressing the concerns? This project proposal first seeks to understand the historical and contemporary roles and functions of urban public space and real estate development, as well as big data. Then, it explores the influence of technology on the human understanding and organization of space to unpack the influence of the Internet of Things. Finally, a design project is proposed for the public space in Sidewalk Toronto’s Quayside development that seeks to address these phenomena through the thinking of the philosopher Hannah Arendt.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International