Skip to main content

Actually Existing Smart Cities: Alphabet Inc. (Google) In TorontoCommoning the "Smart City" in Barcelona

Tuesday 23 March 2021 08:15-10:00,

Open guest lecture.

Publisert: Endret:

Alphabet Inc. (Google) in Toronto

Constance Carr
Constance Carr

The arrival of large digital corporations (LDCs) on the urban development scene is a relatively recent phenomenon, which has sparked concerns around data privacy, surveillance, and the implications of new technologies shaping supposedly smart urbanity.  In this entry, I will present research that examined what happens when an LDC entered the field of urban development. Specifically, the empirical focus was on Alphabet Inc.'s failed digital city plans for Toronto’s waterfront. It is clear that the arrival of LDCs hardly signifies the sole and simple arrival of new palates of technologies. Rather, LDCs are new players in the field endorsing post-political modes of urban development. 

Speaker: Dr. Constance Carr

Dr. Constance Carr is a Senior Research Scientist at the University of Luxembourg and a Visiting Scholar at the CITY Institute, York University. She is currently the PI for "Digital Urban Development - How large digital corporations shape the field of urban governance (DIGI-GOV)” (2021-2025) funded by the Luxembourg National Research Fund. She has published widely, including entries in Regional Studies, Planning Theory & Practice, European Planning Studies, Journal of Transport Geography, Urban Planning, Environment and Planning C. You can also follow her work on Twitter (@urban_unbound) or at

Register here.

Commoning the ‘Smart City’ in Barcelona

Ramon Ribera Fumaz
Ramon Ribera Fumaz

There is a well-established consensus amongst critical scholars, activists, and, increasingly by the general public, that the Smart City practices are generating a new spatial fix for (tech) capital and depoliticise urban redevelopment and environmental management. Against this backdrop, Barcelona has attempted in the last years to harness digital platform technologies to enhance participative democracy and its agenda to secure technological sovereignty and digital rights for its citizens. In doing so, it has aimed to build a tech ecosystem that does not respond to corporate digital capitalism needs. This strategy's central tool has been the multi-purpose platform Decidim, built on FOSS and transparent and inclusive ethical principles. This paper explores the Decidim ecosystem – the network of developers, research centres, maintainers, advocates and activists, and city administrators – in Barcelona and beyond to establish the long term connections, the affordance and limitations of such initiative concerning its replication and scalability elsewhere. Thus, reflecting on its potential in challenging mainstream strategies.

Speaker: Dr. Ramon Ribera Fumaz

Ramon obtained a MA in Economy, Society and Space, and a PhD in Geography from The University of Manchester. After a couple of years at the Institute for Advanced Studies of Lancaster University, he came back to Barcelona in 2007 as an Associate Professor at the Economics and Business Department and the Internet Interdisciplinary Insititute at Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. He is the founding director of the Urban Transformation and Global Change Laboratory (TURBA) in 2015.

Register here.