The well-informed city: A decentralized, bottom-up model for a smart city service using information and self-organization

December 07, 2016 by Eyal Feder-Levy, Efrat Blumenfeld-Liebertal, Juval Portugali

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Smart Cities, a concept widely growing in popularity, describes cities that use digital technology, data analysis and connectivity to create value. The basic abstraction of a Smart City service includes collecting data about an urban issue, transmitting it to a central decision making process and “improving” the city with the insights generated. This model has spurred much critique, claiming Smart Cities are undemocratic, discriminatory and cannot significantly improve citizen's quality of life. But what if the citizens were active in the process? It was Jane Jacobs who said “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” In this paper we lay a conceptual groundwork to envision “The Well-Informed City” - a decentralized, self-organizing Smart City service, where the value is created by everybody. The agents, who are the citizens of the city, are the ones who use the data to create value. We base the model on the cities' feature of Self-Organization as described in the domain of Complexity Theory of Cities. We demonstrate its theoretical possibility, describe a short case study and finish with suggestions for future empirical research. This work is highly significant due to the ubiquitous nature of contemporary mobile based information services and growing open data sets.