The ideological alignment of smart urbanism in Singapore

18th Jan 2018

The ideological alignment of smart urbanism in Singapore: Critical reflections on a political paradox

A new annual lecture paper by Lily Kong and Orlando Woods is now available online.



Over the past decade, much has been written about the potential of smart urbanism to bring about various and lasting forms of betterment. The embedding of digital technologies within urban infrastructures has been well documented, and the efficiencies of smart models of urban governance and management have been lauded. More recently, however, the discourse has been labelled ‘hegemonic’, and accused of developing a view of smart technology that is blinkered by its failure to critique its socio-political effects. By focusing on the case of Singapore’s ‘Smart Nation’ initiative, this paper embraces the paradoxes at the heart of smart urbanism and, in doing so, interrogates the tension between ideology and praxis, efficiency and control, access and choice, and smart governance and smart citizenship. It also demonstrates how such tensions are (re)produced through ‘fourthspace’ – the digitally enabled spaces of urbanism that are co-created, and that contribute to an expansion and diffusion of social and political responsibility. It ends by suggesting how such spaces have the potential to radically transform not just the urban environment, but also the role of government and citizens in designing urban futures.


You can access and read the full paper here


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