The Sustainable City Becomes Climate-Smart : How Smart City Ideas Reshape Urban Environmental Governance
Abstract: The idea of smart cities has become enormously popular during the past decade. Environmental governance is one issue in which smart city ideas seem to hold potential. However, there is an incredible variety in what it means for a city to be ‘smart’. For some, it involves the use of information and communication technology (ICT) to solve problems; for others, it has more to do with economic growth and city branding. Many social science researchers have criticised the idea of smart cities. They worry that it might allow multinational corporations to take control of municipal governance and lead to an undue focus on technological solutions to societal issues. However, only a few previous studies have examined the influence on urban environmental governance in practice. This thesis investigates the influence of smart city ideas on urban environmental governance through a study of Hyllie, a climate-smart city district in Malmö, Sweden. It applies a theoretical perspective based on science and technology studies and the concept of assemblage. It combines participant-observation of inter-organisational meetings, interviews with professionals and document analysis. This thesis contributes a more comprehensive picture of which actors influence the direction of the climate-smart city—beyond the usual suspects of municipal governments and multinational companies. Still, it shows how ICT-based smart city solutions have taken precedence in urban environmental governance at the expense of energy efficiency and renewable energy.
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