SMART CITIES & MIGRATION

navigating issues and challenges through ICT-enhanced tools and approaches

The concept of smart cities is firmly established as a key subject of contemporary academic and political debates. This is no less true for the seemingly unconnected topic of migration. In spite of the attention devoted to both issues in contemporary research and debates, the smart cities-migration nexus has not acquired the attention it is due. This expert seminar aims to explore this relationship from a variety of inter- and multidisciplinary perspectives.

Smart cities research is maturing. Increasingly, the so far distinct and distant communities examining smart cities through the lens of, e.g., computer science, engineering, urban geography, politics, sociology, communication studies and many more, are engaging in dialogue. Smart cities research is driven by the recognition that advances in information and communication technology (ICT) may be effectively employed in city/urban spaces to pre-empt, address, and/or mitigate nascent risks, threats, challenges, and thereby to contribute to the well-being of cities’ inhabitants. In this view, smart cities research locates itself in an area defined by issues as diverse as governance, mobility, economy, energy, living conditions/architecture, and environment. What brings these issues together is the recognition that – if used in socially and ethically sensitive ways – ICT-enhanced tools and approaches may allow addressing challenges cities face effectively.

Migration, following the surge in arrivals to Europe recorded in 2015 and 2016, has reconfirmed its centrality in social and political debates as well as its relevance for the policy-making process. As new generations of researchers started adding to the existing body of work, new avenues of research have been opened. As a result, our understanding of the features and implications of contemporary migration and the challenges it triggers at national, regional and global levels has been substantially enhanced. Relatively little research has been done to consider in which ways advances in ICT might be used to mitigate the challenges and reap the opportunities that migration triggers in cities/urban spaces. The same is true for (smart) villages, an emerging research agenda and policy-making focus.

Central in the debate on smart cities is the concept of broadly understood sustainability. Migration is part of that debate. By upholding sustainability in Goal 11, ‘sustainable cities and communities’, of the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda, a momentum was created for new stakeholders to join the discussion. A tacit expectation has arisen that smart cities and migration research will infuse the policy-making process with a very much needed empirical focus, conceptual zeal, methodological discipline and evidence of multiple causal relations that unfold in the ecosystem of a (smart) city. The objective of this seminar is to address this expectation.

TARGET AUDIENCE

Researchers, academics, practitioners interested in exploring the connection between smart cities & migration. Professionals and decision-makers interested in an intensive seminar designed to exchange knowledge and receive new input to produce policy recommendations.