How smart cities are made: a priori, ad hoc and post hoc drivers of smart city implementation in Sydney, Australia

Robyn Dowling, Pauline McGuirk, Sophia Maalsen, Jathan Sadowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Recent geographical attention to smart places has underlined the key point that smart places are made: crafted incrementally over time and woven through existing sites and contexts. Work on analysing the crafting of ‘actually existing’ smart cities has turned to describing and characterising the processes through which smart cities are made and, within this, the interplay and relative significance of accidental versus purposeful smart cities has come to the fore. Drawing on the concept of dispositif to capture the simultaneity of piecemeal and opportunistic change with deliberate strategy, this paper furthers these debates using examples of two places within the Sydney Metropolitan Region, Australia: Newcastle and Parramatta. Through their analysis we identify the evolving interplay of a priori drivers, ad hoc initiatives and post hoc strategies evident in the crafting of smart cities. Understanding the emergence of actually existing smart cities, we conclude, is sharpened and strengthened by the concept of dispositif, through its attention to processes characterised by non-linear, overlapping and recursively combined drivers that are not without purposeful, strategic intent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3299-3315
Number of pages17
JournalUrban Studies
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • governance
  • local government
  • planning
  • policy
  • technology/smart cities

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