Currently cities all over the world team up with technology companies to make the city 'smart'. Technologies help to optimize and control urban services, like supplying resources, managing mobility, and environmental quality. The hope is that this improves the quality of life. While that sounds promising, there are downsides. Many smart city initiatives propose technological fixes for relatively easy problems while ignoring collective issues without simple solutions. Citizens oftentimes come in late to these consortia of governments, knowledge institutions and tech industry, if at all. It is argued that our focus needs to shift away from deployment of technologies to explore how the strengths of digital media culture and urban culture can be combined in order to solve the most challenging urban issues.
The Mobile City is an initiative by Martijn de Waal and Michiel de Lange. It is an independent research group that investigates the influence of digital media technologies on urban life, and the implications for urban design.
Michiel de Lange is the founder of the Mobile City. He is trained as a cultural anthropologist, and holds a PhD in philosophy (2010) with a dissertation about mobile media technologies and urban identities. He works as a part-time Lecturer in New Media Studies at Utrecht University, and a researcher and adviser of new media and urbanism.