From smart cities to smart social urbanism: A framework for shaping the socio-technological ecosystems in cities

Tali Hatuka*, Hadas Zur

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Advocated mostly by technology companies, the smart city concept promises participation, democratization and innovative urbanism. Tracking these promises and ideas, this paper explores “smart urbanism” in ten cities from all over Israel. Based on interviews with leading figures in municipalities, smart city consultants and key figures in technological companies (n = 40), the aims of this paper are to assess the efforts of cities to become smart by responding to the following questions: 1. What is guiding the decision-making process in developing technological initiatives? 2. Does context play a role in implementing technological initiatives? 3. How are the residents perceived, and what tools are being used to address residents' digital differences? The key argument of this paper is threefold: first, in the process of becoming a smart city, the roles of public and private actors are blurred, influencing the process of decision making. Second, despite contextual differences, cities adopt similar digital initiatives. Third, technological initiatives that focus on social needs and address inequality in the digital age are still at the margins. The final discussion suggests that most municipalities are still at an early stage of digitization implementation and have the ability to shape and form a vision for the cities as socio-technological ecosystems in a way that will serve their publics as a whole. The paper ends with a call for shifting the focus from the city to society in developing digital initiatives and cultivating smart social urbanism.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101430
JournalTelematics and Informatics
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Digitalization
  • Private companies
  • Public sector
  • Smart governance
  • Strategic planning


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