Smart cities: moving beyond urban cybernetics to tackle wicked problems

December 06, 2016 by Robert Goodspeed

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This article makes three related arguments. First, that although many definitions of the smart city have been proposed, corporate promoters say a smart city uses information technology to pursue efficient systems through real-time monitoring and control. Second, this definition is not new and equivalent to the idea of urban cybernetics debated in the 1970s. Third, drawing on a discussion of Rio de Janeiro’s Operations Center, I argue that viewing urban problems as wicked problems allows for more fundamental solutions than urban cybernetics, but requires local innovation and stakeholder participation. Therefore the last section describes institutions for municipal innovation and IT-enabled collaborative planning.