Toward a Smart Urban Planning. The Co-production of Contemporary Citizenship in the Era of Digitalization

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This paper investigates mediated negotiations in ‘smart city’ experimentalism. As often claimed, data can open pathways for innovative planning processes. However, the idea of planning underpinned by the interplay between citizens and data too often remains unquestioned. How might we move the idea of planning from data to provide (technical solutions) to data to transform (urban societal realities)? How can data empower citizens as true drivers of a transformative urban change? This paper argues for a planning perspective to enhance a new sense of citizenship in a future technology-driven urban democracy. The framework combines planning theory with theories of societal change under a critical pragmatism. The empirical research derives from Mobility Urban Values (MUV2020), a Horizon 2020 innovation and research project (2017–2020), with the ambition to change mobility endeavors toward a more participatory and sustainable urban policy. The paper synthesizes analysis of the ‘practice stories’ of professionals dealing with and facilitating the interplay between data and citizens in six European cities. It then discusses MUV’s deliberative planning process in which citizens generate data (co-creation of values), interpret data (co-design of facts) and perform utterances to call for new urban policy (co-production of actions). The conclusions draw a possible pathway to enhance smart urban planning as a perspective to empower citizens with data for a progressive democracy in the era of digitalization. Change-oriented practitioners can potentially facilitate smart urban planning through: 1) technological devices that engage individual citizens (choices) with data practices in everyday life; 2) frames for the interpretation of data with citizens’ and communities (practice) and 3) public conversations between citizens with other publics (system) for new street-level practices of urban democracy.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSmart and Sustainable Planning for Cities and Regions : Results of SSPCR 2019
EditorsAdriano Bisello, Daniele Vettorato, Håvard Haarstad, Judith Borsboom-van Beurden
Number of pages14
PublisherSpringer Publishing Company
Publication date23 Mar 2021
ISBN (Print)9783030573317
ISBN (Electronic)ISBN: 978-3-030-57332-4
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2021
EventEURAC - 3rd international conference “Smart and Sustainable Planning for Cities and Regions” - Bolzano, Bolzano, Italy
Duration: 9 Dec 201912 Mar 2021


ConferenceEURAC - 3rd international conference “Smart and Sustainable Planning for Cities and Regions”
SeriesGreen Energy and Technology

Bibliographical note

This book offers a selection of research papers and case studies presented at the 3rd international conference “Smart and Sustainable Planning for Cities and Regions”, held in December 2019 in Bolzano, Italy, and explores the concept of smart and sustainable planning, including top contributions from academics, policy makers, consultants and other professionals.

Innovation processes such as co-design and co-creation help establish collaborations that engage with stakeholders in a trustworthy and transparent environment while answering the need for new value propositions.
The importance of an integrated, holistic approach is widely recognized to break down silos in local government, in particular, when aimed at achieving a better integration of climate-energy planning. Despite the ongoing urbanization and polarization processes, new synergies between urban and rural areas emerge, linking development opportunities to intrinsic cultural, natural and man-made landscape values. The increasing availability of big, real-time urban data and advanced ICT facilitates frequent assessment and continuous monitoring of performances, while allowing fine-tuning as needed. This is valid not only for individual projects but also on a wider scale. In addition, and circling back to the first point, (big) urban data and ICT can be of enormous help in facilitating engagement and co-creation by raising awareness and by providing insight into the local consequences of specific plans. However, this potential is not yet fully exploited in standard processes and procedures, which can therefore lack the agility and flexibility to keep up with the pulse of the city and dynamics of society.
The book provides a multi-disciplinary outlook based on experience to orient the reader in the giant galaxy of smart and sustainable planning, support the transposition of research into practice, scale up visionary approaches and design groundbreaking planning policies and tools.


  • Planning theory
  • Data
  • Theories of change
  • Deliberative democracy
  • Critical pragmatism


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