18 May 2015 12:30pm - 2:00pm CRASSH Meeting Room, Alison Richard Building


Part of the CRASSH Fellows Work in Progress seminar series. All welcome, but please email Michelle Maciejewska if you wish to attend and to request readings.   Sandwich lunch and refreshments provided.

Dr Francesca Menichelli

This paper outlines the theoretical framework of my research on smart cities in the UK. Initiatives where sensors and devices are embedded into urban space and networked together are still few, scattered around in a piecemeal fashion and largely in their infancy. Rather than smart cities, what we have now are smart projects, where technological devices are adopted to improve the efficiency of closed systems (e.g. transport routes, parking spaces). Consequently, most research focuses on specific devices (urban dashboards being a case in point), with the goal of highlighting the affordances and limitations these offer in terms of the management of people, space and flows. However, I think there are three potential pitfalls to such an approach. First, by stressing the innovative character of these applications, the claims on the innovative character of smart cities are reinforced; in turn, this makes it easier to overlook the continuities between smart and neoliberal modes of urban governance; finally, there is also a risk that the political nature of the technology being implemented is overlooked. In contrast, my research wants to explore if and to what extent smart urbanism amounts to a new mode of governance and what, if any, the specific configurations for the distribution of authority and decision-making power are that smart cities enable at different scales of government. This will make it possible to frame the spread of smart cities initiatives in light of two distinct, yet related processes: the rescaling of national state space and the emergence of cities as self-standing units that have to fend for themselves in a globally-competitive capitalist economy.

For administrative enquiries please contact Michelle Maciejewska.


Dr. Francesca Menichelli is a Research Associate on the Technology and Democracy project, part of the Cambridge Centre for Digital Knowledge at CRASSH. Previously, Dr. Menichelli was a postdoctoral researcher in the faculty of law and criminology at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, where she worked on the EU-funded FP7 project PRISMS. She received her PhD in urban studies from the University of Milano-Bicocca, for a work that analysed the diffusion of CCTV in Italy in light of wider processes of state reconfiguration taking place in the country in the last two decades and detailed how cameras are not used for crime control, but as a device for the circulation of resources between different institutions and levels of government. She has articles published in the European Journal of Criminology, Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management and the International Journal of E-Planning Research.


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