Augmented Smartness: Harnessing Tacit Urban Intelligence

Gretchen Wilkins: RMIT University, Vietnam

Andrew Stiff: RMIT University, Vietnam


KEYWORDS: Tacit Intelligent Cities, Urban Developing

Smart technologies are, or will soon become, a ubiquitous part of the fabric of cities, most rapidly in cities that are still emerging. Indeed, the leapfrogging of advanced technologies in developing cities starkly contrasts the physical nature of them, closing the gap between the painfully slow, expensive infrastructural development and rapid, rampant cultural change. These smart, urban technologies are typically employed in service of efficient, bureaucratic systems – at odds, in other words, with their most productive capacity: informality, ad hocism, spontaneity, lightness. These latter traits are of course also essentially human traits – begging the question, what role to people play in manifesting the ‘smart city’?

Further, what role does the physical city in general play in manifesting the smart city? Material properties are often seen as fixed, concrete realities that enable the dynamic metropolis. In developing cities however, the physical city is morphing almost as fast as the digital systems enlivening it. The digital city is shaped by physical smartness, and vice versa. There is a tacit intelligence in the material of a city, a haptic system which begets and augments digital and social systems of exchange.

Can ‘tacit intelligence’ be used to augment physical urban space and ‘digital smartness,’ for more empowered communities? How can tangible interactions within society challenge digitally-led, top-down approaches toward smart cities’? Newer technologies like ‘mixed reality’ environments offer an audio-visual medium to negotiate between digital smart tools and localised knowledge of urban spaces. Can mixed reality tools transcend the ‘smartness’ divide?

This panel will embrace innovative projects that explore the power of tacit, material intelligence, explored through a range of media including drawing, audio/visual documentations, mixed realities, archives, performances. Presentations focusing on specific dynamics of ephemeral and physical knowledge as critical and tangible forms of the ‘smart city’ are welcomed.