Beyond Smart Cities - Towards Humane, Sociable and Cooperative Hybrid Cities

Short thesis

A critical reflection of the "Smart City" and more general "Smart Everything" paradigm is necessary. Thus, I present a citizen-centered design approach for smart hybrid cities, which allows transforming them into Humane, Sociable and Cooperative Cities. This design approach aims at reconciling humans and technology and keeping the human in the loop and in control. Privacy issues are a major focus as they become more important now with cities developing into smart, hybrid cities.


Starting out with the context of living in the Urban Age, I introduce different concepts for developing the “city of the future” with a focus on so called “transient cities”. This is followed by a critical reflection of different manifestations of the “Smart Everything” paradigm (e.g., smart cities, smart cars) and then complemented by the concept of “hybrid” cities, i.e., integrating the virtual, digital world with the real, physical world. While there is a big hype about the opportunities of smart cities based on the availability of information about people as well as states of urban objects, I will take a critical look at the implications of smart services exploiting infrastructures and matching people’s profiles and interests with service options available at specific locations (location-based services). I also address the implications of “smart mobility” concepts based on autonomous driving. The major focus will be on the risks resulting from smart city installations and smart connected cars, especially the serious infringements of privacy rights, i.e., usage of personal data without consent of the people concerned. These issues call for a citizen-centered design approach based on the “keep-the-human-in-the-loop” principle as a requirement for developing humane, sociable and cooperative smart hybrid cities.  The design is based on re-defining the “Smart Everything” paradigm towards reconciling humans and technology. The goal is to design and implement a humane sociable and cooperative city enabling people to exploit their creative, social and economic potential and lead a self-determined life. More information at http://www.smart-future.net