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Putting citizens at the heart of the smart city

Mexico City

7 March 2019

The School for Policy Studies is delighted to receive funding from the first ever ESRC-CONACYT collaboration to lead a binational interdisciplinary project which aims to enhance our understanding of smart cities.

The project entitled Empowering Citizen-Oriented Smart City Innovation in Mexico (ECOSCIM) and led by Professor Alex Marsh of the Centre for Urban and Public Policy Research, aims to develop and test a new framework for facilitating more inclusive and equitable citizen-oriented Smart City innovation.

Working with colleagues at Universidad Anáhuac in Mexico, the project will also evaluate existing Smart City practices in Mexico City, with a particular focus on equity and social justice. It will examine the broader organisational and institutional context to understand better how to ensure Smart City innovation is genuinely oriented towards citizen’ priorities and interests. It will do this by working with citizens, community groups and policy makers in Mexico City.

Professor Marsh said:

“This exciting project is aiming to address the issue right at the heart of the current smart city debate – the role of citizens. We need to ensure we aren’t too focused on the technology – the ‘how?’ of smart cities – but also prioritize the ‘why?’ and ‘to whose benefit?’. We are keen to examine how to ensure smart city innovation is not only inclusive but also builds in genuine longer-term thinking and a deep understanding of the conditions for success. I am looking forward to working with the team in this new interdisciplinary and cross-national collaboration. We are bringing together diverse expertise in order to deliver a rounded and contextual understanding of smart city innovation practice.”

Dr Arturo Flores, who is leading the Mexican team, said:

“This project opens up a very interesting opportunity to develop new ways of international multi-disciplinary research cooperation on global matters. By exploring the perspectives of developers, implementers and users of a broad range of smart city solutions in two very different environments, we expect to bring a fresh look to the debate on smart cities. The relationship between citizens and technology will be an ongoing one, so we envisage this research enhancing balanced techniques with which this interaction can take place. I am certain that the conclusions of this research will be very useful to all those interested in developing more inclusive and efficient smart city tools.”

The project will run for 30 months from February 2019.

Further information

The UK team is an interdisciplinary collaboration with colleagues from the School for Policy Studies (David Sweeting), the Department of Management (Professor Richard Owen, Dr Mario Pansera), School of Education (Dr Helen Manchester) and Department of Civil Engineering (Dr Theo Tryfonas). Colleagues from Knowle West Media Centre will also play an integral role in the project.

The Mexico team are all based in the Facultad de Estudios Globales, Universidad Anáhuac, and the project will be managed by Dr Arturo Flores. He will be accompanied by MA Catherine Prati, Dr Jessica De Alba, MA Juan Arellanes, MA Ana Gabriela González, MA Mariana González, MBA Adolfo Arreola, and RA Jorelvy Calixto.

The project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Mexican Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT), with the support of the Newton Fund.

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