Friday 9/10/2015, 17:30, Beursschouwburg

A lecture by Tassilo Herrschel (University of Westminster, United Kingdom)
Invited by the Brussels Centre for Urban Studies

‘Smart’ has become an adjective de rigueur, so it seems, in urban policy making and beyond, appearing on a multitude of websites of ‘smart cities’, as well as policy documents – not at least the EU’s Horizon 2020 strategic programme. The meaning of this quoted ‘smartness’ is, however, far from clear. It reaches from a technological focus on managing public services more effectively, via controlling energy consumption, to strategic plans for some new forms of policies and agendas. Could it therefore be that ‘smart’ has become merely a trendy label, which one is deemed to have to use in order not to appear ‘dumb’ and left behind?

This lecture will explore these questions, drawing on a number of examples of using ‘smartness’ as an agenda, a product, and a technological challenge and opportunity, as well as vehicle for policy making. Why has this ‘fuzzy’ term attracted so much attention and also, so it seems, copycatting? Does it signal consideration of some genuinely intelligent, clever, shrewd, innovative, enterprising – or whatever other adjectives one might want to use to capture ‘smartness’ – ways of ‘running’ and shaping city-regions in their complex, and often conflictual, interests and agendas? The focus here is not so much on offering ready-made answers and blueprints to follow, but rather on an attempt to discuss and illustrate the nature of ‘smartness’ between becoming a new ‘modern’ normative paradigm, and encouraging a more experimental, perhaps ad hoc, ‘post-modern’ way of framing and making policies, and shaping governance, in a city-region.