Theses Master's

Sandbox: Evaluating Smart City Technologies

Alcazar, Regina Joy Duque

The social, political, and economic implications of technologies are extensions of the agendas set by the agencies that deploy them and the environments that shape them. The sandbox, whether managed by private or public agents, apply their ideologies, principles and convictions within the technology itself. When the sandbox scales to the city, region, or other areas, so do the intentions in ways that can perpetuate inclusivity and engagement or exclusion and invasion. This study will contribute to the developing discourse on urban planning and the development processes of smart city initiatives to understand how advancements and disservices of urban technologies are distributed in communities. Unlike the majority of research in this sphere that attempts to quantify innovation or the technology itself as a metric for success of a smart city program, this research examines the process of how the technology is instrumentalized—by whom and for whom.

To evaluate the effectiveness of smart city initiatives and to understand the social, political, and economic implications of the implementation process, two distinct case studies of smart city technologies implemented in the past decade are reviewed through a mixed-methods approach: (1) Las Vegas’ transportation networks technologies deployed within their Downtown Innovation District, and (2) Chicago’s environmental sensors project called the Array of Things, installed across the city. The two case studies represent differing approaches that are prevalent in current smart city endeavors, corresponding with intentions of economic development and civic empowerment. This critical analysis evaluates the context and intentions of smart city initiatives as a product design process and as a planning tool for allocating resources.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Meisterlin, Leah M.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
July 12, 2021