Who Is the Assumed User in the Smart City?

  • Katherine HarrisonEmail author


This chapter starts with the premise that the design and development of an artefact (a system or tool) is a process that assumes certain users and usages Akrich (Managing technology in society: the approach of constructive technology assessment. Pinter, London, pp 167–185, 1995) [1]. The assumed user of an artefact shapes the affordances and limitations of the artefact; designers and developers strive to create a system that balances their understanding of the needs of the assumed user and the material limitations of the technology itself. Inspired by critical perspectives towards design, development and use of technological artefacts drawn from science and technology studies, this chapter will ask: who is the assumed user in the contemporary smart city? Illustrating this critical framework with examples from contemporary smart cities projects, this chapter will encourage the reader to reflect on the characteristics of the assumed user, and which users may have been unwittingly overlooked during design and development. It poses the question: which citizens’ needs are not adequately addressed because they do not constitute the assumed user(s)? Foley and Ferri (J Res Spec Educ Needs 12:192–200, 2012) [6], Strengers (Interactions 21:24–31, 2014 [19].


Smart city Big data Internet of things Artefact Assumed user 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.Lund UniversityLundSweden

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