Modes of making smart cities: or, practices of variegated smart urbanism

Jathan Sadowski, Sophia Maalsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


The ‘actually existing’ smart city is not a monolith. It is not directed by a universal logic, nor does it develop in a standardised way. As recent research has argued, the spatial, material, and political contexts of cities have major influence over what smart urbanism looks like in practice. This paper adds analytical depth to, and broadens the geographical scope of, research on the variegated modes of making smart cities. Based on empirical research in multiple Australian cities we use three case studies to explore three different modes of smart urbanism, each one centred on the interests of a different key actor: corporate-centric, citizen-centric, and planner-centric. These different modes can, and do, co-exist in the same city. At times, they are competing logics that fight to pull the city in different directions. Yet, they can also work together to shape smart city initiatives. In describing these different modes, we pay particular attention to the ways that these projects and strategies must contend with the already existing spatial, cultural, and political contexts of each place.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101449
Number of pages9
JournalTelematics and Informatics
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Australia
  • Digital technology
  • Smart cities
  • Urban planning
  • Variegated urbanism

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