Beyond ‘smart-only’ cities: redefining the ‘smart-everything’ paradigm

  • Norbert StreitzEmail author
Original Research


This paper presents different manifestations and problems of the ‘smart-everything’ paradigm, provides a critical reflection of its implications and proposes a human-centered design approach resulting in the provision of ‘people-oriented, empowering smartness’. The approach is characterized by design goals like “keeping the human in the loop and in control” and the proposal that “smart spaces make people smarter”. The critical reflection implies to ‘redefine’ the ‘smart-everything’ paradigm. One could also say this is a proposal in the spirit of humanized computing. While the approach has general applicability, the examples are mainly taken from the domain of employing information technology in current and future urban environments, where one can observe an increasing hype indicated by the label ‘smart cities’. The paper argues that a citizen-centered design approach for future cities is needed for going beyond technology-driven ubiquitous instrumentations and installations of cities. To illustrate the situation, the paper addresses several general problem sets concerning artificial intelligence and algorithmic automation as well as privacy issues. There are two trade-offs to be considered: (a) between human control and automation, and (b) between privacy and smartness. People are not asked anymore beforehand for their permission to collect and process their personal data. People do not have the choice to decide and make the trade-off decision between smartness and privacy themselves but are confronted with serious privacy infringements. To remedy the situation, a ‘privacy by design’, respectively ‘privacy by default’ approach is proposed. The combination of redefining the ‘smart-everything’ paradigm in terms of empowering people, employing privacy by design and enforcing an overall citizen-centered design approach is guided by the goal of reconciling people and technology, creating and maintaining a balance of decision-making and control entities. It should convince and incite all stakeholders “to move beyond ‘smart-only’ cities” and transform them into Humane, Sociable and Cooperative Hybrid Cities.


Smart city Smart-only city Smart airport Smart ecosystem Hybrid city Humane city Cooperative city Self-aware city Transient city Urban age Urban spies Smart-everything paradigm Human in the loop Human in control Design trade-offs Smart spaces Empowering smartness Ambient Intelligence Artificial Intelligence Ubiquitous computing Disappearing computer Citizen-centered design Privacy Privacy by design Autonomous driving Non-transparent algorithms Transparent AI Opaque AI 



The author gratefully acknowledges feedback and advice from Shin’ichi Konomi, Irene Mavrommati, Christine Riedmann-Streitz, Ben Shneiderman, Constantine Stephanidis on earlier versions of this paper. Nevertheless, the author has the full responsibility for the content of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Smart Future InitiativeFrankfurt am MainGermany

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