Platform urbanism, smartphone applications and valuing data in a smart city

Rose, Gillian; Raghuram, Parvati; Watson, Sophie and Wigley, Edward (2021). Platform urbanism, smartphone applications and valuing data in a smart city. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 46(1) pp. 59–72.



Recent scholarship on smart cities and platform urbanism has explored the very wide range of data harvested from urban environments by digital devices of many kinds, analysing how not only efficiencies but also profits are sought through the extraction, circulation, transformation, commodification, integration, and re‐use of data. Much of that data is generated by smartphone applications. This paper looks at the design of a group of eight smartphone apps by a range of different actors in Milton Keynes, a small UK city with a large number of smart city initiatives. The apps are understood as a co‐constitutive interface between data circulations and embodied users. The paper focuses specifically on the data that the apps generated and shared and on how the app designers anticipated that the data would create different kinds of value for embodied app users. While some data circulations were understood as ways of generating financial value, the paper argues that a number of other forms of value were assumed in the app design. The paper identifies two of these, which it terms normative values and interactive values. It examines how the data mobilised by the smart city apps enacts particular versions of these values, and how those values co‐constitute specific kinds of bodies, agencies, and geographies in digitally mediated cities.

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