What is an attractive euphemism for gamification

The national economy

Be attractive! Be competitive! Be sustainable! Be smart! Who wouldn't want to live in a “Smart City”? To understand the concept of Smart City, it helps to imagine what life would be like in a non-Smart City. This shows that Smart City is both a functioning overall system that redefines our future and a project that makes our city more viable. So some see it as the vision of a better urban life that lies ahead of us. Others see Smart City as an infrastructure and technology project that helps the city to become fit for the future.

Cities are the cradle of creative humanity. As economic and institutional drivers, they are indispensable for the further development of our societies. [1] “City” is a complex phenomenon of networks that can be defined by the performance of the technical infrastructure and the associated social interaction. [2] In the age of networked computers and big data, the boundaries can no longer be drawn purely geographically. [3] From the perspective of the actors, the focus is on what people do with their city: How do they want to be “smart” - more skilful, more considerate, more agreeable than before?

Technology is of central importance: through the use of more networked, digital technology and large databases, our cities should become more economically productive and efficient, with the result of a smaller ecological footprint. For these reasons, urban districts with smart buildings, smart homes and smart living are currently being built up out of the ground in Asia and the Arabian Peninsula.

However, the hope for a more ecological future has not been redeemed so far, everyday use tells a different story: quality of life is not only created through technological networking and economic well-being, but through identification with one's own activity, interaction with one's personal environment and with one's way how the built environment «welcomes» people. These processes of appropriation are mostly forgotten in the Smart City debate.

Industrial policy in disguise

The aim of the EU Commission is to promote the development and implementation of intelligent urban technologies. To this end, in 2012 it established the “European Innovation Partnership for Smart Cities and Communities” [4] initiative, which uses funds from the EU research program Horizon 2020 to support flagship projects in urban areas.

These so-called lighthouse projects in the fields of energy, transport and IT all aim to improve the quality of life. The hope rests on a reduction in energy costs for all actors, on accelerated, environmentally friendly transport, on improved mobility, on new jobs, on improved resilience to climate change - such as the reduction of heat islands - and on better air quality.

A strong driver in the background is industrial policy. In the EU, Smart City seems to offer a magical combination of important goals: The international commitments to CO2-Reduction combines it with overdue renovations of the previous technical infrastructures, the challenge of digitizing all living environments, i.e. the Internet of Things, and the competitive position of European technology companies.

The enthusiasm for Smart City can also be explained by the subordinate role that research, technology and innovation policy plays - in contrast to agricultural policy and structural aid for weaker regions. It is also hoped that it will keep pace with emerging regions in Asia.

The still young history of Smart City offers three interpretations, which are explained below.

Smart City 1.0 as a strategy of institutions

Smart City started as an elite project. The actors come primarily from centralized administration, from high-performance industry and from interest groups: big government, big business, big advocacy. The central economic interests become particularly clear when one understands that the creation of a digital single market is one of ten priorities of the Commission, Council and Parliament in Brussels.

Against this background, Smart City 1.0 reads as a “breakthrough strategy” by large institutions that are on the one hand able to use their control and regulation competence and on the other hand have the experience to bundle their competencies in technology development, system integration as well as financing and operator models for cities . A new round of public-private partnerships is heralded, which bring together the capable - technology and regulation providers - with the willing - urban municipalities in Europe, which are marked by structural budget weaknesses.

As ordinary citizens, we could sit back and relax and say sarcastically that Smart City is just another supply-oriented infrastructure project planned from “above” that hardly arrives “below” with any noteworthy effects. But we all have reason to take a closer look, because the digital penetration of our everyday life already offers sufficient illustrative material (see box).

An exclusively technology-related focus, however, obstructs the view of the challenges and opportunities of urban transformation. Because «the city» has many faces and is ultimately made through interaction. Depending on the disciplinary background, we read the urban differently: morphological-settlement-structural, functional-economic, social-demographic, institutional-political, relational-networked or transformation-oriented.

As a basic concept, Smart City 1.0 is geared towards the physics of city functions. Large technology companies in the hardware and software sector such as ABB, Siemens, IBM or Cisco promise significant economies of scale and leaps in effectiveness with their system solutions. Cities like Vienna bundle their urban technologies in service agencies. [5] This shows that the 24-hour city can only function with a high-performance, highly networked infrastructural backbone - overall, “city making” becomes an adventure of the 21st century.

Google & Co. dominate in Smart City 2.0

Smart City 2.0 adds the “system manager” whose core competence lies in collecting data and processing it into information: Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and others give us an idea that they can be the “Master of Ceremony” and the Internet of things will ultimately determine the city of the future. These internet companies are gradually linking the increasingly differentiating parts of the internet of things to form new, spatially effective value chains.

For the users of Smart City 2.0, these new offer systems initially appear attractive because they pay low marginal costs for network services. At the same time, however, they are the central individual suppliers of movement and attribute data and are euphemistically referred to as “data donors”.

Smart City 3.0: Knowledge is created through interaction

There are chances that Smart City 3.0 could develop from this. New types of user cooperation are developing as public-private partnerships, where the giving and taking of data and services is more balanced than it is today. Smart City 3.0 requires that we understand the city as a phenomenon of social interaction.

The city, understood as relational, has always been transformed through exchange between actors and locations. [6] The result is knowledge. It is the capital of the knowledge economy, which we define as that growing part of the economy that strategically combines highly specialized knowledge and skills from different segments of the value chain in order to enable innovation and maintain competitive advantages. [7]

Doing business is a constant process of innovation, which is summarized in the term innovation. As a strategic competitive factor, knowledge plays a decisive role here - for example in managing corporate value chains. The production of knowledge is a key driver of the spatial transformation of cities today. In the words of the US urban economist Ed Malecki: "If knowledge is not found everywhere, then where it is located becomes a particularly significant issue." [8]

Information and communication technologies are responsible for the increased possibilities for the creation and use of knowledge. However, distance-independent technologies by no means mean the end of local qualities. Rather, empirical work clarifies the apparent paradox of the complementarity of spatial and relational proximity for knowledge generation. Knowledge is only created in the exchange between people who are close and familiar both spatially and in networks and who are at the same time ready and capable of this exchange. The systematic use of knowledge in the sense of a combination of scientific and experience-based knowledge in the entrepreneurial value creation process contributes significantly to the transformation of space today. [9]

Self-reflection of the city dwellers is crucial

The human need to exchange, meet and be recognized can be seen as a constant in the use of space: That is my hypothesis. The smart city will only bring us the hoped-for effects if smart not only means the characteristics of people or institutions, but above all the arrangement and organization of built and non-built-up environments. The aim should be to understand Smart City 3.0 as an instrument for managing urban transformation.

The concept has two readings: First, the implementation leads to better performance of the cities. Second, it must be possible for users to reflect this and lead to new knowledge about spatial development dynamics themselves, for example about the spatial consequences of their own user behavior. Such knowledge, in turn, is the basis for more effective control of cities.

If political action ultimately aims at impact-oriented urban transformation [10] - that is, at deliberate knowledge of cause-and-effect relationships - then Smart City serves the social understanding of knowledge. Smart City 3.0 could represent the ideal solution and offer the chance to bring the city dweller back to city-making as a Master of Ceremony. We have to see ourselves as producers and users of our own control-relevant information at the same time. By making control knowledge public, the development of cities can be discussed more effectively.

  1. Glaeser 2011, Storper 2013. []
  2. Bettencourt 2013, Batty 2013. []
  3. Kitchin 2014. []
  4. European Commission n.d. []
  5. See Tinavienna.at []
  6. Taylor 2013. []
  7. Bentlage, Thierstein and Lüthi 2014. []
  8. Malecki 2000.:110 []
  9. Bentlage, Thierstein and Lüthi 2014. []
  10. Forester 2014. []