Whose Right to the Smart City
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This chapter works with Lefebvre’s ‘Right to the City’ (1996b) to understand how a Smart City initiative was being implemented and as a consequence who benefitted. Whilst a model of citizenship is offered in smart cities, the ‘actually existing’ smart city in fact reconfigures models of citizenship in ways that instrumentalise technology and data that can reinforce patterns of exclusion for marginalised groups. Therefore, this chapter aims to understand how citizens participate in smart city projects and whether they can in fact they lead to the exacerbation of existing urban historical, material and social inequalities. The chapter focuses on some of those excluded by smart city projects; the urban poor, street traders and those who live in informal settlements and explores the way in which they access and participate in the city. In the Global South context, India is a key actor in implementing a national level smart city programme, and research was undertaken in the city of Chennai to investigate the way that the India Smart Cities Mission was being planned and implemented and the corresponding implications for marginalized communities. The chapter argues that there is a need to recognize the value of a range of everyday, small-scale ways in which citizens employ technologies and data that meet their needs in a social and spatially embedded context. In this way marginalized people may be empowered to have what Lefebvre describes as ‘the right to the oeuvre, to participation and appropriation’ (1996, p.173) in urban space.
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