Smart Cities and Digital Culture WK2

“Arthur C Clarke articulated a vision of the future where… new telecommunications technologies played a crucial role in London’s success” (Townsend, 2013. P6). The use of telecommunications and machines are everywhere they automatically engage in our lives as they blend into the background and we rarely give them a second thought. In essence this is the smart city. The development of the wireless network has seen its growth out strip that of fixed technology. Wireless technology seems to make our lives easier as cited by the catapult future cities website. Whether through communication or accessibility many of us have “at least two additional things connected to the internet” (Townsend, 2013. P3).

However, while we use the convenience of the wireless technology everyday we rarely think about the data gathering process that allows those who own the technology to gather information of our movements, from purchases to who we communicate with and how we move around the city. An immediate example I can think of is that in my place of work every staff member and student has to swipe in and out to enter the college premises. While this seems like a clear development of the clocking in and out machines mainly used in factory environments during the 20th century, technology has allowed the employer to go one step further. The college has just occupied a new building. While I joked with my peers last week about there being no hiding place in the new build made of nice shinny glass it also dawned on us that as staff members our location could also be tracked in the new build as we have to swipe in to every room we use. Yes it is a cool idea that I no longer have to carry a heavy bunch of keys with me to access a classroom or an office but how much of this design was put in place because of this convenience and how much of it had a big brother element to it? This data gathering activity has been a highlight of IBM’s Think Academy smart city on a smaller scale, gathering data of this kind will allow senior managers to monitor how often rooms are being used in the new build with a thermostat control in each room it could also let them know what temperature we like to work at and if we look further one has ask whether the computer network is connected to the system and how much monitoring of the system is connected to the swipe of a card and our computer login?

As technology develops the nature of our society changes as we grow into this new era of the smart city we need to ask, “what do we want a smart city to be?” (Townsend, 2013. P15).



Catapult, F.C. (2017) Home – future cities catapult. Available at: (Accessed: 13 February 2017).

Hight, C. (2012) ‘Book review: Understanding digital CultureMillerVincent, understanding digital culture, sage, London, 2011, ISBN 9 7818 4787 4979, 254 pp., £21.99. Distributor: Footprint’, Media International Australia, 145(1), pp. 171–172. doi: 10.1177/1329878×1214500133.

IBM Think Academy (2014) How it works: Smarter cities. Available at: (Accessed: 13 February 2017).

Townsend, A.M. (2013) Smart cities: Big data, civic hackers, and the quest for a new utopia. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company.






2 thoughts on “Smart Cities and Digital Culture WK2

  1. We live in a database culture. According to IBM’s Smarter Cities sensors are capturing data are integrated across city systems to provide “critical information on city activity and operations.” (IBM Think Academy, 2014). For example, traffic flow monitors. They also state that social channels are beneficial in allowing government and citizens to communicate (IBM Think Academy, 2014), linking to Townsend’s preference of digital technology being used in a grassroots approach involving citizens (Townsend, 2013: 9) and allowing them to develop and mould their own experience.
    Miller believes that a fundamental issue underneath digital culture is the fact that information is stored as 01 digital code, which makes it “programmable, alterable and subject to algorithmic manipulation.” (Miller, 2011: 15). As Natalie reinforces above, this can be problematic in terms of how much monitoring is occurring and what citizen’s data is being used for.

    Garner, N. 2017. ‘Smart Cities and Digital Culture W2.’ Edublogs. Available at: 16 February 2017).

    IBM Think Academy. 2014. How it works: Smarter cities. IBM. Available at: (Accessed: 16 February 2017).

    Miller, V. 2011. Key Elements of Digital Media. In Understanding Digital Culture. Sage: London. Pp.15.

    Townsend, A., M. 2013. Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers and the Quest for a New Utopia. New York: W.W. Norton and Company. Pp.9.

  2. According to Towsend (2013), the urban expansion is the biggest building boom humanity will ever undertake (pg 2). This process will be made possible with the increase use of wireless networks. According the Forester (quoted in Towsend 2013), the increase use of smartphones will cost billions of people around the world to re-organise their lives and communities to fit the mass mobile communication culture (pg. 2). Therefore, it will facilitate the process of data gathering. Towsend also state that nowadays the, computing is no longer in hands in the hands of big corporations. With a little knowledge in IT, most people can be build software and applications with their technology devices (2013, pg. 9). As a result, it is speeding up the process of development because there is diverse programs and software emerging everyday.


    IBM Think Academy. 2014. How it works: Smarter cities. IBM. Available at: (Accessed: 26 February 2017).

    Townsend, A., M. 2013. Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers and the Quest for a New Utopia. New York: W.W. Norton and Company. Pp. 2-10.

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