(Re)Prioritizing Citizens in Smart Cities Governance: Examples of Smart Citizenship from Urban India

David Sadoway, Satyarupa Shekhar


By examining the community-focused informatics work of Transparent Chennai (TC) (India) we seek to contrast the Smart Cities agenda — with its focus on the consumption and commercialization of digital technologies and infrastructure — to citizen-driven approaches, what we term, Smart Citizenship. A Smart Citizenship approach engages citizens in complementary digitally mediated and face-to-face processes that respect local knowledge systems. We devise a framework for understanding Smart Citizenship and link this to our case study of Transparent Chennai. Our research identifies how information and communication technologies (ICTs) can serve to spotlight overlooked or undervalued urban infrastructural, planning and environmental issues — such as the need for access to safe and clean public toilets; road safety and pro-pedestrian planning. We conclude by suggesting that a locally grounded Smart Citizenship agenda can reprioritize the needs and interests of local communities and neighbourhoods in urban governance, rather than those of exclusivist private commercial interests.

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The Journal of Community Informatics. ISSN: 1712-4441