• Camilla Rosendahl Therkildsen
4. term, Sustaianable Cities, Master (Master Programme)
This thesis explores the practices and potentials for strengthening public empowerment in Smart Urbanism projects. Smart Urbanism is fundamentally about deploying digital technologies in the urban fabric, management and operation, with the aim of increasing efficiency. The concept is often praised for engaging the public and cultivating public empowerment. Simultaneously, it is critiqued for being technocratic and for public empowerment to remain empty words. This thesis looks at Smart Urbanism projects in the organization Gate 21. Through case studies, the organization is positioned within the Smart Urbanism paradigm including elements of both Dashboard, Platform and Empowerment Urbanism. An intervention with project managers in the organization suggests that the organization and their existing practices holds potential for strengthening the public dimension and cultivate public empowerment. However, they remain hesitant to deploy strong public empowerment strategies. The reasons for the hesitation can be contributed to two main points. First Strong public involvement in technically complex projects is challenging, and outcomes of for example demonstration projects or workshop do not necessarily benefit from extensive public involvement. Second, Gate 21 works as a partner organization with the demands from the municipalities as a driving factor for project development. There is a strong culture of triple helix innovation, including municipalities, private corporations and knowledge institutions. The responsibility for public involvement and empowerment is thought to reside with the municipalities, as they represent the public in our representative democracy. Finally, public empowerment in Smart Urbanism projects is discussed in relation to idealism, understandings and deepening of democracy, and to sustainability. There can be challenges of finding a balance where public empowerment is at the core of smart urban development, while sufficiently reaching for sustainable cities.
Publication date2021
Number of pages57
External collaboratorGate 21
No Name vbn@aub.aau.dk
Information group
ID: 398790563