Transportation and Smart City Imaginaries: A Critical Analysis of Proposals for the USDOT Smart City Challenge

Oscar H. Gandy, Jr., Selena Nemorin


Scholarly attention to the development of “smart cities” around the globe has been focused on the nature of these cities, and visions of the futures that these developments would provide for individuals, communities, and institutions. Much of the research about these information-intensive projects has been focused on the description of these cities in terms of their primary socioeconomic goals and on the influential roles in their development being played by globally active information technology firms. An important, but underexplored, focus of this research has been an examination of how local and regional governments have envisioned these projects. This article responds to that challenge through a critical analysis of proposals submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Smart City Challenge. We associate the choice of population references used in these proposals with the socioeconomic characteristics of these cities and then examine the nature of changes made in the proposals by the seven finalists.


smart city, transportation planning, public–private partnerships, surveillance, privacy, inequality, sociotechnical paradigm, social media

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