Prof Simon Marvin was invited to talk about its work on Standardising the City: Constructing a Universal Platform as part of the SPRU lecture series on 2nd December 2016.  The International Standards Organisation (ISO) is currently coordinating the formulation of a new set of international standards on smart cities. Drawing on the sociology of standards  alongside critical literature on the development of standards rules and codes for urban development, the paper tracks the most recent attempt to create ‘the standard city’. The paper critically examined three issue:

First, we show that much of the effort to develop smart city standards is only partially focused on setting the “technical” standards of the interoperability of systems, hardware and software necessary for the implementation of smart cities.

Second, instead the focus of standard setting is on three other issues: – a. defining a data ontology for how urban authorities collect and manage data, b. establishing a framework for specifying how urban authorities develop priorities and purposes for smart technologies and c. formulating processes for the specification and purchasing of smart city software products.

Third, the paper shows how smart city standards are less concerned with technological standards and instead more focused on developing a standardised and mobile framework of urban governmental control that reconfigures the urban context to make it amenable to the specification, purchase and implementation of software products.

The talk concluded by arguing that the purposes of standards is to actually reconfigure urban contexts to match the technological and commercial presuppositions of software products and thereby establish a universal logic of urban control.  UI is working with Adrian Smith at SPRU on the Ora Knowing project, within the Urban Automation theme.