Citizens resisting Smart Cities’
The case of Concepción (Chile) and the R+D PACYT project
Natalia Sandoval Quezada
Master's Programme (Two-Year)
Degree of Master of Science with a Major in Urban Studies US660E Master’s Thesis (30 Credits)
Department of Urban Studies, Faculty of Culture and Society, Malmö University Spring semester / 2021
Supervisor: Professor of Urban Studies Guy Baeten
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Table of contents
Acknowledgment ... 3
Summary (Abstract) ... 3
1 Introduction ... 4
1.1 Purpose of the research ... 4
1.2 Research questions ... 5
1.3 Previous research regarding Smart Cities ... 5
1.4 Knowledge claim ... 9
1.5 Research layout ... 9
2 Methodological framework ... 10
2.1 Methods ... 10
Table 1 ... 13
2.2 Limitations ... 14
3 Theoretical and conceptual framework ... 15
3.1 Understandings regarding Critical Smart Urbanism: From theory to Corporate Storytelling and Flagship Projects ... 15
3.2 The local Smart City: Interpretation and application in the Global South and the Latin American context ... 18
3.3 Urban (social) conflicts and the Right to the (Smart or not) City ... 22
4 The PACYT project case ... 24
4.1 Smartness from the Global South to the southernmost Metropolitan Area ... 24
Figure 1 ... 25
Figure 2 ... 26
4.2 The PACYT project and the Smart narrative ... 28
Figure 3 ... 29
Figure 4 ... 31
Figure 5 ... 31
Figure 6 ... 32
Figure 7 ... 33
Figure 8 ... 34
4.3 The dissident voices ... 34
Figure 9 ... 35
Figure 10... 36
Figure 11... 37
Figure 12... 38
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Figure 13... 39
5 Analyzing the contesting movement ... 39
5.1 Previous information ... 39
Figure 14... 40
Table 2 ... 41
5.2 Findings ... 41
5.2.1 The PACYT’s background and purpose ... 41
Figure 15... 43
Figure 16... 45
Figure 17... 46
5.2.2 The sparks that started the conflict ... 47
Figure 18... 48
Figure 19... 49
Figure 20... 50
5.2.3 Learnings from the PACYT and the citizen movement ... 52
Figure 21... 53
Figure 22... 54
Figure 23... 55
5.3 Summary of findings ... 57
6 Conclusions ... 58
7 Discussion around the citizen opposition to a smart city initiative ... 58
8 References ... 61
9 Appendices ... 74
9.1 Research design ... 74
Table 3 ... 74
Table 4 ... 75
Table 5 ... 76
Table 6 ... 77
9.2 Survey questions ... 77
9.3 Survey results ... 81
9.4 Interview questions ... 85
9.5 Interview results matrix ... 86
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First of all, I would like to thank all the interviewees that decided to share their thoughts in the present study, as well as to all the people that participated in the survey; without your
contribution, it would have not been possible for me to reach my research goals and to count on with the rich material I have. On the other hand, I want to thank people from academia, such as my peers, who have given me advice and stamina, to my tutor, who has contributed with his wisdom, and to my mentor at university, who has kept me on track and provided me with valuable insights. I am grateful to these people for helping me with my willpower and effectiveness. Finally, I need to thank those surrounding me, like my family for supporting me from the distance, my partner for being here to contain and take care of me, and my dog for always being around me and spreading his love and joy.
Parque Científico y Tecnológico (PACYT, Science and Technology Park) is a large-scale R+D project that seems to be framed in a Smart City plan for Concepción, Chile, which the media has presented as “the Chilean Silicon Valley” (Araus, 2015; Tele13, 2019) and promises to bring not only research and development opportunities for the city but also thousands of direct and indirect jobs (Estudio Interdiseño, 2018; la Tercera, 2015) carried out by PACYT Corporation. Nonetheless, voices have raised to question the construction of the 91 hectares initiative, and some of them have even organized in citizen groups targeting the creation of the urban complex, which actively share information contesting the PACYT through social media, and coordinate activities to protest and spread the word.
This is the study case to be analyzed in the present research, which aims to explore and understand, on the one hand, the reasons that have led to the organization of citizens contesting the PACYT project, and on the other hand, the way the project has been
advertised and developed in relationship to the city's inhabitants. It intends to make a novel contribution to the field of Urban Studies, both in the areas of Critical Smart Urbanism and Postcolonial Studies, which in this case collide in Latin America, part of the Global South, while opening a discussion around the topic of citizens contesting urban developments with a Smart City background, where few incursions have been made and more specifically in the Latin American context, where the Smart City seems to have a particular interpretation. With that in mind, the current research tries to dig into an under-studied territory, and in doing so, it plans to bring to the table the relevance of studying the approach and way of developing
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Smart Cities’ ideas in Latin American, and to put focus on what city’s inhabitants have to say about those developments and what their interests are, using the lenses of the right to the city and the understandings coming from urban social movements and conflicts. In that sense, the research outputs are to question the form in which Smart City projects are being implemented in Latin America and to find possible guidelines to incorporate the city’s inhabitants in the development of them elsewhere, with that in mind, future research can be supported by this investigation, which encourages further studies both in the described fields and territory. To do so, the current investigation explores and unwrap theories regarding the mentioned fields and focuses on analyzing the case making use of mixed methods research, by executing qualitative and quantitative methodological tools to reach relevant data that helps to answer the research inquiries.
In that sense, the results show that it can be confirmed that the nature of the PACYT, i.e. its R+D purposes and origins linked to a Smart City plan to transform the city into smartness, does not play a relevant role in the development of the conflict that has emerged between the PACYT management, and the people opposed to its construction, but several aspects
explain the urban social conflict and that will be explored in the present work.
Keywords: Smart cities, urban social conflict, right to the city, flagship projects, corporate storytelling, placebo interventions.
1.1 Purpose of the research 1.1.1 Problem statement
Parque Científico y Tecnológico (PACYT, Science and Technology Park) is the name of a large-scale R+D project framed in a Smart City plan of development for Concepción, Chile, which the media has presented as “the Chilean Silicon Valley” (Araus, 2015) and that promises to bring not only research and development opportunities for the city but also thousands of direct and indirect jobs (Estudio Interdiseño, 2018; la Tercera, 2015).
Nonetheless, voices have been raised to oppose the construction of the 91 hectares
initiative, and some of them have even organized citizen groups targeting the creation of the urban complex, which actively share information against the PACYT through social media and coordinate activities to protest and spread the word.
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1.1.2 Aims of the study
The study aims to explore and understand, on the one hand, the reasons that have led to the organization of citizens against or contesting the PACYT project, and on the other hand, the way the project has been advertised and developed in relationship to the city's inhabitants, to comprehend the conflict.
1.1.3 Objectives of the study
Having in mind the aims of the present research, the general objective is:
• To acknowledge the positions and visions that the organized groups and individuals opposing or questioning the PACYT have, in other words, the concerns and demands they present and claim regarding the project and its implicitness.
In the same line, the specific objectives are:
• To find out the role that the PACYT’s background and objectives, it means, its smart narrative and R+D nature, have played in the emergence of the conflict.
• To discover how the project has addressed the citizens, in that sense, to acknowledge how the PACYT has been presented to them and how its administration has collected the inhabitants’ points of view.
• To acknowledge the aspects that are relevant to take into account to shape the goals of projects like PACYT and the gains they intend to bring to the city and its citizens.
1.2 Research questions
• How relevant is the apparent Smart City and R+D nature of the PACYT project, to understand the resistance to the project?
• What are the aspects regarding the PACYT project that have triggered individuals, and citizen movements against or contesting it?
• What could the PACYT project's vision and the dissident voices' concerns bring as learnings for similar future projects?
1.3 Previous research regarding Smart Cities
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Smart City or Smart cities is probably one of the currently most popular terms to picture tomorrow’s city and has gained special attention among policy and decision-makers. It is said that it first appeared from the hand of IBM and its ‘Smarter Cities’ term during the ’90s and that it came to stay after the company registered the concept as a trademark in 2009, that Söderström, Paasche, and Klauser (2014) describe as a branding strategy to that comes with technocratic promises of an apparent utopia that they interpret as ‘corporate storytelling’
(Söderström et al., 2014). The idea of a technological settlement with a big data overflow and sensor-based responses has seduced the world’s main cities and megalopolis and has of course gained the attention of academia, as it will be further described, but despite being broadly studied and theorized by several authors, Smart Cities cannot be clearly
characterized, but the implementation of technology within the urban realm is the cross- sectional key notion. Hollands (2008), is one of the first in adventuring writing about, by that time, a new current of urban development and, based on Komminos (2002) and other authors, interpret it as a sort of model where it is possible to recognize the use of articulated services, focused on developing a competitive and efficient settlement; he ventures as well putting an eye on the discussions connecting smart discourses with the proliferation of business and entrepreneurial urbanism highly supported by neo-liberalism, such as in Harvey’s (1989, 2007) vision. Later, Caragliu et al. (2011) write about the difficulty in finding an accurate concept to define it (and that most of the information available on the internet refers or redirects to businesses or developers) and they have therefore looked for
parameters that help to narrow it down to understand what a project or place needs to be considered smart or not. Townsend in his book ‘Smart Cities’ (Townsend, 2013), for example, explores the issues of ubiquity and utopian vision that the concept has brought to the table, it means, the presumption that Smart City is a replicable model everywhere and elsewhere, and that it can help to reach a desired-by-all stage of development, making a review of current from its technological tools applied to the futuristic construct it promises to deliver, linking the IBM imaginary to earlier technocratic views such the 1970’s cybernetic
approaches used on the city while remarking the relevance of users as political actors and activists both in the cyberspaces and the real ones. It can be said that the subject has generated interest for decades already, but it is right now, with the boom of the ICT and use of technology, plus the waves of digital native generations, that it is mandatory to continue exploring the topic from its different angles and applications, as the research aims.
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In another line, Vanolo presents the implications that smartness has in contemporary cities since it tends to classify them as good or bad, or as competitive or not, while also discussing the role that private actors and citizens have in the implementation of the model, studying for this case in Italy (Vanolo, 2014); and he considers that “smart city is an urban imaginary combining the concept of ‘green cities’ with technological futurism and giving a name to techno-centric visions of the city of tomorrow” (Vanolo, 2014, p. 894). Likewise, Shelton has written about the ‘actually existing’ Smart City, id est, analyzing the cases in which the trope has been applied from its context in conjunction with Zook and Wii, Shelton (Shelton et al., 2015), making a parallel to Brenner’s and Theodore’s exploration about the ‘actually existing neoliberalism’ (Brenner & Theodore, 2002) to understand real smart cases, avoiding the utopian and paradigmatic view of the model; and together with Lodato, Shelton discusses the role of citizens in the construction of smart urbanizations (Shelton & Lodato, 2019), except not focusing on the idealized inhabitant of the Smart City but the actual one. Equally, Carbonen, Curugullo, and Caprotti expose the promises and presumptions widespread during the last decade in their book ‘Inside Smart Cities’ (Cugurullo et al., 2018), where they explore from the utopian vision to empirical examples developed both in the Global North and the Global South, emphasizing going beyond the use of technology to value the sociopolitical impacts and the geospatial frame in which smart urbanism is developed; the last author describes as well the way the model is translated into spaces (Caprotti, 2019), places where it is possible to read and understand the networks, making it visible in what he calls ‘flagship projects’. More recently, Green presents in his critical book ‘The smart enough city’ (Green, 2019) a call for attention over technocratic urbanization, encouraging questioning the excess of focus on practicality and efficiency and turning the view into what makes the cities, in other words, the livability and democratization of spaces, the optimization of the settlements for people and not for the use of technology per se. In that sense, the present investigation frames on an ‘actually existing’ case (Shelton et al., 2015) with a smart background and intends to contribute to the discussion, considering what Söderström et al. (2014) and
Caprotti (2019) write. Whilst trying to build a common understanding for the term ‘Smart City’
or ‘Smart Cities’, academics broadened the focus to discuss ‘Smart Urbanism’ instead (Kitchin, 2014; Luque-Ayala & Marvin, 2015a; McFarlane et al., 2015), leaving behind the idea of the city as an object by turning it into urbanism as a process, and maintaining, of course, the notion of smart linked to the use of technology, with a broader perspective that includes the users. As an attempt to sum up all the currents and ideas, Kummitha and
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Crutzen make a review of the understandings regarding Smart Cities, grouping and categorizing them in what they call a ‘3RC framework’ (Kummitha & Crutzen, 2017).
Despite most of the developed material coming from and focusing on Europe and North America, the Global South has not been immune to the Smart City fever and has, of course, put an eye on the new trends and discussions. The development of brand-new Smart Cities in India, South Korea, and China, as well as the renovation of urban areas in Latin America, is a central approach from where to explore the current in the present investigation. As previously shown, authors within Critical Smart Urbanism have already argued about the importance of analyzing Smart Cities taking their contexts into account, remaking the indivisibility of geography and constructed space, demanding place-based approaches (Luque-Ayala & Marvin, 2015). This is the way which the topic of Smart City meets with Postcolonial Urban Studies, which encourages producing material from and focusing on the Global South and the so-called developing countries (Roy, 2016). In Cugurullo et al. (2018), several authors study cases such as Hong Kong and Wuhan in China, Cape Town in South Africa, Kibera in Kenya, Seoul in South Korea, and Santiago in Chile, to understand the implications that location has, as well as the difference that politics and policies play in shaping them. Following that, Robinson is widely known for promoting comparative studies within the Global South (Robinson, 2016), but she has previously worked with the theory of
‘provincializing’ ideas and models across geography (Robinson, 2003), a topic that looks critically to the leading Euro-American or Eurocentric visions encouraging focus on former colonial latitudes. Yet, most of the material investigating Smart Cities in the Global South focuses mainly on Asia, but less on Africa and on the rest of America (i.e., besides Canada and the USA, considered Global North), and in the case of Latin America, few countries have implemented Smart Cities’ plans or strategies and even fewer research regarding the subject has been produced. Most of the material comes from Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, and Chile, and since it is not and under-studied field there, it becomes relevant to perform further investigations in the region and analyze the way projects have been carried out there. In the same line, it is important to widen the understanding of the results they have brought, which the present research intends to do by making an input in Urban Studies on Smart Cities, in the context of an American area that has been less covered by academia.
Nevertheless, as it has been previously stated, Critical Smart Urbanism does not only treat the use of technology in the city, nor should do it, but it focuses on the relationship with the citizen as well. In that sense, Mcfarlane et al. (2015) question the notions of smart and
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discuss the need for turning into smart urban governance, advocating for the engagement of the social fabric into the processes and projects; whilst Vanolo writes about the ambiguous part that the citizens have had so far in the smart imaginary, discussing their role in four different scenarios as a way to incorporate them more actively in the future Smart Cities (Vanolo, 2016). The integration of the city’s dwellers into the policy and decision-making processes as well as in the appropriation of the urban spaces is a pretty well-known topic discussed by authors such as Lefebvre and Harvey as ‘the right to the city’ (Harvey, 2014;
Lefebvre, 2003), which seems to be a cross-cutting issue no matter the background or goals of any urban model, as it will be further debated.
1.4 Knowledge claim
The present study intends to make a novel contribution to the field of Urban Studies, both in the areas of Critical Smart Urbanism and Urban Citizen Movements, which in this case collide in the context of Latin America, part of the Global South. It tries to open a discussion around the topic of citizens contesting urban developments with a Smart City background, where few incursions have been made, and more specifically in the Latin American situation, where Smart City seems to have a particular interpretation. With that in mind, the current research tries to link those aspects to dig into an under-studied territory, and in doing so, it plans, on the one hand, to bring to the table the relevance of studying the approach and way of developing Smart Cities’ ideas in the Latin American context, and on the other hand, of putting the focus on what a city’s inhabitants have to say about those developments. In that sense, the research outputs are to question the form in which Smart City projects are being implemented and to find possible guidelines to incorporate the city’s inhabitants in the development of them. With that in mind, future research can be supported by this
investigation, which encourages studies both in the theoretical fields and in Latin America.
1.5 Research layout
The current investigation is overall structured in three main parts, which are presented as follows. The first one corresponds to the introductory and theoretical material supporting the research, such as that covered in the chapters ‘Introduction’, ‘Methodology’ and ‘Theoretical and Conceptual Framework’, where it is possible to find information about the problem to be studied, the inquiries regarding the case and the approach taken to study it, such as the field’s state of the art and the concepts it is based on; the focus of the investigation and the contribution it intends to make; the objectives of the research and means to carrying it out,
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among other things. The second part is the treatment of the case studies, in other words, the background information describing the situation, the facts, and development of the conflict of interest, as well as all the findings reached by processing the data collected through
methodological tools, which can be read in the chapters ‘The PACYT project case’ and
‘Analyzing the contesting movement’. Lastly, the third part intends to open a debate regarding the results and the relevance of those to understand the conflict and how it has developed, it links the early inquiries and questions with the actual findings to recognize the achievement of objectives, but also to examine the way the study has been carried out; which can be found in the chapters the ‘Discussion around the citizen opposition to a smart city initiative’ and ‘Conclusions’, where the author inspects and criticizes their work to find weaknesses or inconsistences. To finish, it includes the necessary ‘References’ and extra material in ‘Appendices’, like the questions for the interview and the survey.
2 Methodological framework 2.1 Methods
Various methodologies have been analyzed and evaluated to find the most suitable way to reach desired data that can help to answer the inquiries on which the present study is based.
Considering that the investigation is framed within the scope of Urban Studies and that the focus of it is an urban conflict and the reasons that have led to its development, it would be more accurate to work within the qualitative spectrum instead of the quantitative.
With that in mind, the first step in the project is to carry out a literature review (Snyder, 2019) within the field of study, which not only intends to cover the theoretical frame in which the case study fits from the researcher’s point of view but also to find relevant information about the object itself. In the same line, and to get to know the perspective that people have regarding the PACYT project, it is needed to execute ethnographic tools (Bryman, 2015;
Schensul, 1999) as part of the fieldwork in the city of Concepción (Sultana, 2007; Ward, 2014), which tends to be a difficult task considering the present global conditions. In that sense, even though it may be possible to travel to Chile to perform on-site research, it would not be the wisest or most beneficial decision since the risk of spreading COVID-19 is yet too high, and the local regulations and recommendations would require quarantine and
discourage non-essential contact.
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With all that said and still considering empirical information-gathering as a fundamental part to help to answer the research questions, it has become mandatory to find an alternative, being the internet a natural mean through which the data can be collected, the reason why ‘online fieldwork’ (Lupton, 2020) and ‘digital ethnography’ (Kaur‐Gill & Dutta, 2017; Pink et al., 2016) are the current realms in which the investigation is now framed, areas that not only can still be further and deeply studied but also are complex and multi-layered sites where issues can be both found and fixed on-the-go (Sumiala & Tikka, 2020). Netnography (Kozinets, 2015) is the first methodological option that popped up on the radar, which does not lack originality but originally focused on the individual as a consumer and their behavior within online spaces, such as blogs and forums, to track market tendencies, for example, and even though it can be adapted to ethnographic purposes out of the economic scope, it was not the best alternative to work with. Alongside that, options such as analyzing information available on and getting in touch with informants through social media or app-based methods (Caliandro, 2017; Stewart, 2016) and using audiovisual elicitation (Lupton, 2020; Schensul, 1999) have also been
considered as an option, but the strong focus on quantitative data that the first one has and the need of equipment and training that the second one requires, apart from its lack of feasibility for the study, have resulted in discarding both of them.
Nonetheless, the core of the study is indeed to cover certain people’s perspectives about a determined situation, which has made clear the need of using interviews as one of the basic methods to be include. In that sense and keeping in mind the world wide web as support, doing online interviews is one of the most accurate alternatives, as well described in ‘Doing fieldwork in a pandemic’ (Lupton, 2020) being synchronized online interviews (Bauman, 2015; Pink et al., 2016) the initial choice of this researcher. This option seemed thoughtful considering the boom and availability of technology facilitating communication, as well as in the convenience of meeting face-to-face and in real-time to interact and ask for any clarification or re-elaboration of ideas, or even to narrow down and guide the interviewee back to the point of interest. The reasons behind why it turned into hesitation were firstly, that the possibility of recording the material was not assured since it depended on the contact’s willingness, considering that it is mandatory to keep good notes while also asking the questions. Secondly, that the access of people to the material means were fundamental and could affect the fluency and quality of the material, demanding it for them to have a good internet connection and a technological device.
And thirdly, that the difference of time zone with the respondents made it difficult to coordinate and find suitable timings having in mind that many people tend to cooperate in these kinds of
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projects after their work schedules, which would translate into logistical issues. With all that evaluated, the final decision was to make use of epistolary (asynchronous) interviews (Debenham, 2007) which is nothing else, but a written interview carried out using internet as the platform for exchange, and e-mail, apps, or any other means that support transcribed interaction to send questions and answers. According to Lupton (2020) the main advantage of this tool is that it gives time and place flexibility, plus the opportunity for the interviewee to re- elaborate and re-think their ideas and answers, having the chance to modify and re-consider their words. For the researcher it facilitates the job since it does not require transcription, which in this case facilitates the job since the interviews will be performed in Spanish and will need translation; on the other hand, it is true that it avoids face-to-face interaction which requires more textual clarification, as well as access to e-mail, for example. Nonetheless it allows for the execution of simultaneous interviews and managing time zone differences. Finally, even
though "the method does not aim for neutrality but builds a relationship between researcher and respondent that supports interpretation of the data” (Lupton, 2020, p. 11) it allows building up a relationship with the contacts to ask for clarification or further development of thoughts across time, and in that sense this methodological approach does not avoid the personal nature of the researcher since the “practice of digital ethnography is still a deeply human and individual experience” (Abidin & de Seta, 2020, p. 12) This method will allow reaching both people that may be backing or supporting the PACYT project and individuals or organizations that may be opposing or contesting it, making it possible to contrast the perspectives and bring deeper understanding on the reasons behind the conflict and its development; with that in mind, it requires utilization of the available contact information on the internet and to make use of the researcher’s own network to reach people that may be involved in the object of study.
Following the previous ideas, another inquiry within the study is to know the number and nature of individuals and organized movements against or questioning the project, as a well as the way the information about it has been presented to the community and if this has been
included in the development process or not, and to do that, it may not be the wisest thing to ask people that are already involved since their views can be biased and highly conditioned by their engagements, as it is mandatory to find an alternative to gather wider data that can be
quantified. Making online surveys (McKenna et al., 2017; Social Media Research Group, 2016;
Stewart, 2016) using Google/Microsoft forms appears as a feasible and rich alternative that not only allows collecting information that can be quantified but is also a tool that can be easily shared through the internet. Lupton (2020) offers several alternatives and platforms that can be
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used not only to build up questionnaires but also process the data, and one of the advantages is that it can be quick and anonymous by adding close-ended questions, but also invite the participants to elaborate more and even participate further in semi-structured interviews by leaving some open-ended questions to answer with their own words or leave their contact details. In the case of the present investigation, the idea is to reach random people that do live within Concepción Metropolitan Area (i.e. Greater Concepción), and the most suitable
alternative would be to elaborate a survey with alternatives and to share it through Facebook local trading groups since that was the main social network used by Chileans (Statista, 2020), the third most visited website in the country (Kemp, 2021) and that people considered
‘millennials’, ‘generation x’ and ‘baby boomers’ would most likely buy through that virtual place than in any other social network (CADEM, 2019), posting the link to the survey during a determined number of days.
Having said that, one of the main methodological aims is to address relevant information by using mixed methods research (Bryman & Bell, 2011; Snelson, 2016), reaching both quantitative and qualitative data that can support the findings. In that sense, the chosen methods are indeed epistolary (asynchronous) interviews (Debenham, 2007) and online surveys (McKenna et al., 2017; Social Media Research Group, 2016; Stewart, 2016), and the objectives supporting them can be read and understood in Table 1.
Applied methods regarding the project’s aims and objectives.
Aim Objective Methodological tool
Quantitative Qualitative Survey Literature
Interview To understand
the reasons that have led to
the organization of citizens against the PACYT
To know the number, mission, and nature of citizens movements organized against the PACYT
To acknowledge the positions that the groups and individuals organized against the PACYT project have, in other words, the concerns and demands they claim
To explore the way the project
has been advertised and
To find out the perceived goals and gains that this Smart City project promises to the city and its citizens,
from their point of view
To discover how the project has X X X
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relationship to the city's inhabitants.
addressed the citizens, in that sense, to acknowledge if the population has been incorporated into the project’s process and the
reasons behind it.
Note. Table 1 presents the different methodological tools applied, motivated by the project’s aims and specific objectives. Copyright 2021 by Natalia Sandoval.
Finally, another analyzed and studied option as a qualitative methodology was discourse analysis (Ward, 2014), which seemed interesting and accurate to study the way the project has addressed the population and the standpoint from which organized movements that share information on the internet perceive the PACYT, but since this tool focuses on the use of language and the form in which the content is constructed, more than in the information itself, it did not turn out being the best alternative. It is how content analysis (Ward, 2014) fits better with what the research tries to address, which is the reasons behind the conflict and contributes to analyzes and comprehension of all the available material on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. In that sense, the initial choice was to make use of a processing software such as NVivo but considering the lack of experience using it and to balance the time use, it has now been decided to continue with the two previously described and selected methods.
It is not possible to avoid the actual scope that an investigation can reach and all the variables that are out of the researcher’s control, reasons why there are and will always be limitations and constraints that must be considered and sorted out to accomplish the study’s goals in the best possible way. Since those may be meaningful and cannot be left out of the planning, it is essential to acknowledge them and to keep an eye on them because they will, after all, narrow down and or shape the development of the investigation, and it is with that in mind that those need to be identified in early stages.
In the case of the present research, the main limitation is the distance to the object of study, which is a conflict occurring in a city located around 13.000 kilometers away (Map
Developers, 2021) which not only would require to plan in good time (and with enough budget) any possible fieldwork but also to sort out the current pandemic; being that the situation, an alternative is mandatory to skip the existing distance. With that in mind, the
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opportunity to reach sources is restricted, on the one hand, to the availability of information on the internet or through contacts previously acknowledged by the researcher, and on the other hand, to the technological means to get in touch with possible informants or
interviewees, which may not have access to those; in the same line, the discontinuity of relevant data, the existence of (now) offline information and, of course, the reliability of sources are always a limiting edge. Lastly, the collection of information through interviews or surveys is highly dependent on the earlier described means and in that sense, may target more specific age ranges and educational levels, which will probably have more access to the internet and general information, as well as more interest to take part in academic research, which could have been avoided by addressing people randomly on site.
Additionally, the theoretical context in which the case study frames do counts on with wide and rich information from a general perspective, i.e. Smart Cities, but lacks further studies focusing on the implementation of those ideas in the geographical and cultural site in which the investigation focuses, i.e. the Global South and Latin America, as well as in the social response that projects modeled following those guidelines may cause, making it difficult to find more specific information to build the background in which the problem stands on.
Finally, founding the investigation on a ‘single case study’ (Flyvbjerg, 2006) can bring rich and deep data, but those may indeed be constrained since there is a lack of comparison, a limitation that goes alongside the researcher’s preconceptions and prejudices, a weakness that is unavoidable nonetheless can be a value according to Abidin and De Seta (Abidin & de Seta, 2020) who argue about the human truth behind the studies.
3 Theoretical and conceptual framework
3.1 Understandings regarding Critical Smart Urbanism: From theory to Corporate Storytelling and Flagship Projects
As previously discussed, the concept of the Smart City does not have a clear and unique definition, but there are some parameters and consensus from which to understand and interpret it, which can on the one hand help in narrowing it down but on the other make it even more difficult to clarify since it contains “a range of terms like cyber, digital, wired, knowledge cities, etc., when in fact these various ideas themselves have somewhat different meanings.” (Hollands, 2008, p. 306); but what is clear for the author is that the model seeks urban entrepreneurialism, it intends to be presented as a recipe for success to make cities more competitive and profit-driven while less focused on ordinary people (Hollands, 2015),
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something that can be linked to what Harvey (1989) earlier defined as a capitalist strategy for urban governance. Nevertheless, and as an attempt to make a clearer interpretation of the topic, Caragliu et al. (2011) present a range of “characteristics proper of a Smart City”
(Caragliu et al., 2011, p. 67), such as the implementation of infrastructure and services as well as ICTs, the focus on attracting new businesses to strength urban development, the pursuit of social integration using technological solutions, the attraction of creative capital like a skilled workforce and high-tech industries, the presence of a population with technological literacy, and the issues regarding sustainability (in all its levels) as a core strategy for urban development. Following the idea of smartness being framed in the capitalist system, Kitchin (2015, p 133) argues that “the Smart City is understood to be the technological version of a sequence of neo-liberal-infused new urban visions, including competitive cities, creative cities, sustainable cities, resilient cities, and green cities”; an analysis that that will not be furtherly discussed in the present work but that lighten the way to comprehend the underlying entrepreneurial view. Alongside them, McFarlane et al. (2015) understand ‘smart’ as the use of the technique, i.e., the implementation of technological solutions that can be combined in different forms and layers, and not only on as theoretical discourses surrounding the idea;
they consider as well that Smart Cities should be studied from three different angles: the connection between conception of premises, the causes behind them and circumstances in which they occur; the type of urban governance within the smart context, as well as the technocratic reductionisms; and the methodological lenses through which to research the current. However, the present investigation does not frame any particular interpretation but puts its focus on common understandings, with a special interest in the perception of the Smart City as a model that intends to address urban problems with technological and infrastructure-driven solutions.
On the other hand, and as earlier stated, academics such as McFarlane, Luque-Ayala, Marvin, Kitchin, Kong, Woods, Wiig, and Wang, among others, write about the Smart City through Critical Urbanism lens, giving birth to the wing of Critical Smart Urbanism, which is an essential approach in which the present research frames. As an example, Kitchin (Kitchin, 2015), like Townsend (2013), discusses issues of big data and (hyper) surveillance within the smart urban realm, addressing at the same time the need to incorporate critical academics into the research of Smart Cities, and the role that security and its effectiveness play in the model (Kitchin & Dodge, 2019). In that same way, McFarlane is one of the authors that analyses the smart current from critical urbanism (McFarlane, 2011), working as well
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alongside Marvin and Luque-Ayala in their book “Smart Urbanism” (McFarlane et al., 2015), a piece that questions the concept of smart. They consider it to be aspirational and discursively seductive, arguing that the definition may seem clear but not the answers to the questions why and how, and therefore the reasons behind its possible application while remarking the apparent replicability of it as a model but with lack of context, social involvement, and urban governance (McFarlane et al., 2015). This has come hand-to-hand with the help of big corporations dedicated or turned to the development of new technologies and the
implementation of such in dense areas, planning and developing from small interventions to large-scale renovations alongside politicians.
Alongside them, Söderström et al. (2014) argue that smartness lands to solve the city’s problems through what they consider to be ‘corporate storytelling’, highlighting the imperative need of constructing alternative imaginaries surrounding Smart Cities, leaving behind the urban management policies that put attention on the infrastructure and labeling; a view that is particularly relevant for this investigation, since discourses seem to weigh more than the actual answers they intend to bring, becoming a central issue the practicality and applicability behind those. In that sense, the authors consider that cities try to compete as if the world were a market, driven by the urge of turning smart delivered by entrepreneurial companies, in an attempt to be part of the new norm that has been installed in the collective imaginary, since it “promotes an informational and technocratic conception of urban management where data and software seem to suffice” (Söderström et al., 2014, p. 317) to succeed in this market narrative, reducing urban issues to technocratic and quantitative problems and leaving
outside the sociological and political aspects that administrating and constructing a city demand. Following that idea, urban areas pursuing the smart utopia drawn by corporations make a choice and decide that becoming part of the smart catalog is more urgent than investing or focusing on other aspects.
Another relevant current consideration in this investigation is the conception of ‘flagship projects’ that Caprotti (2019) offers, which nonetheless is interpreted in a slightly different way that fits better with the case studies and its context. As presented in previous chapters, the author talks about the built environment in which Smart Cities can be seen and read, the places that materialize smartness and make it leave its apparent invisibility. Those spaces, which in the academic’s investigation are existing buildings, become totemic objects from which to administrate and observe the city, even though the ordinary citizen may not have access to it, or even worse, be aware of it. Nonetheless, the places described by Caprotti
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respond to the type of smart interventions applied, and therefore they are limited by it. Those
‘flagships’ are products of their causality and context, as McFarlane et al. (2015) would argue, the reason why this research considers that they can be rendered having different forms and materializations, not only as a container of the smart grid but also as a milestone of a wider interpretation of Smart City, as it will be further elaborated.
3.2 The local Smart City: Interpretation and application in the Global South and the Latin American context
As presented earlier, Robinson’s work attempts to encourage leaving the western dominance and welcoming learnings from elsewhere, sidestepping the current power asymmetry and the wrong universality that theoretical knowledge seems to have (Robinson, 2003, 2016). Her aims intersect with what McFarlane et al. (2015) and Shelton et al. (2015) have argued about the Smart City: the relevance of context, on the one hand, and the variables to overcome in distinct locations plus the uncertain impacts the smart urbanization can cause in a particular place. Similarly, Odendaal studies the implementation of technology-based policies ‘towards the digital city’ in the highly fragmented and unequal context of South Africa, a place that not only deals with the immediate consequences of the apartheid but also with the educational barriers exposed pursuing smartness; while trying to transform into a global country, the lack of infrastructural capacity that becoming smart demands is a struggle difficult to sort out, and on the contrary, the possibilities to establish democratic governance and break disparities through the use of ICT seem to be opportunities where to put efforts on. Alongside that, Datta explores issues like ‘entrepreneurial urbanization’ (Datta, 2015b) and the utopian vision that India has regarding smartness, which she portraits describing the country’s plan to develop 100 Smart Cities through its ‘technocratic nationalism’ (Datta, 2015a), a determination from which India intends to reach modernity, emulating the globalized world with strong use of its political power to build the nation’s imaginary, as she studies with Odendaal, while choosing not to face local and social problems and avoiding incorporating the citizens by democratizing the processes of constructing city (Datta & Odendaal, 2019). Following Datta’s work, Watson (2015) explores the attractiveness of Smart City discourses in the African continent, making a parallel with the Indian situation emphasizing the local reality. In that sense, context is indeed a deeply relevant variable, since it shapes the different “visions of smart cities, how they dovetail with local and global political economies, and how they unfold in practice, vary between places“ (Kitchin, 2015, p. 133).
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Concerning Latin America, CEPAL puts an eye on Smart Cities already in 2014, exposing the situation of different countries and relevant information to consider for conversion into
smartness (Castillo, 2014), while the Inter-American Development Bank investigates and creates reports about the local situation to transform relevant cities into Smart (Bouskela et al., 2016). Gravante and Sierra-Caballero have explored the issues of ‘digital citizenship’ with an emphasis on “social movements on mediactivism, collective action, and digital
technologies, focusing on the processes of appropriation and use of digital technologies”
(Sierra-Caballero & Gravante, 2018, p. 79). Regarding cases, it possible to find information about Smart Cities projects or research in Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, and Chile. For example, Weiss, Bernardes, and Consoni explore the development of Smart Cities in Brazil, treating the challenges and real infrastructure capacity in the nation, focusing on smart initiatives in areas such as transport in the cities of Rio do Janeiro, Porto Alegre, and Curitiba (Weiss et al., 2017), to put their attention on the use of ICT, and in particular the internet, as tools for the materialization of Smart Cities and the interaction of citizens with their authorities through them, framed in a utopian smart vision (Weiss & Consoni, 2017). In the same country,
Brandâo and Joia write to describe the case of “Cidade Inteligente Búzios” (CIB) in Buzios, considered the first Latin American Smart City, here they remark the relevance of context in a project with divided opinions and study it is using ‘actor-network theory’ (Brandão & Joia, 2018), highly dependent on the socio-geographical situation and the political landscape.
On the other hand, Medellin, in Colombia, is maybe one of the most well-known examples of smart urbanizations, treated by Mejia, Glasberg, Tamm, and López as a possible role model and leading example in a region with 10 years of delay compared to the north of America and Europe (Mejia et al., 2011), as well as referred to as a case study by the Inter-American Development Bank (Amar, 2016), interested in the citizen-oriented strategies implemented by the local government. Within the same state, Del Castillo focuses on the importance of investing locally and nationally in ICT and in educating the population to use them, focusing on public policies that not only generate digital inclusion but improve the citizen’s quality of life (A. del Castillo, 2014), while Parada treats the topic as a ‘fiction or reality’ issue, analyzing the smart interventions related to the socioeconomic background from where they emerge and with a specific interest in Costa Caribe (Parada, 2017); in the same line, Copaja-Alegre and Esponda-Alva put their attention on the application of technology-driven strategies comparing the cities of Barcelona, Medellín, and Lima to acknowledge the achievements,
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challenges, and goals to come, remarking the significance of not generalizing the tactics as if they were replicable everywhere (Copaja-Alegre & Esponda-Alva, 2019).
Alongside them, Mexico has explored Smart Cities with current examples such as the city of Guadalajara with the project “Ciudad Creativa Digital” launched in 2010, that intends to transform the place into the first Mexican Smart City (Ciudad Creativa Digital, 2021), and Tequila, part of a range of truistical towns called “Pueblitos mágicos” (Tequila Inteligente, 2021), but places like Puebla and Monterrey are also in the radar. Amaro already writes a proposal in 2011, hand-to-hand with IBM, to handle and analyze data more technologically and efficiently both in the private and public sector (Amaro, 2011), and years after, Alvarado discusses the model of Smart City with a focus on sustainability and inclusion (Alvarado, 2017) using the Cities in Motion Index (Berrone et al., 2016) to understand the Latin
American and Mexican situation towards smartness, observing again the usefulness of ICT to improve citizens’ everyday life; and in addition to that Lizeth Fuentes-Cervantes also focuses on sustainable and inclusive goals, investigating and proposing rough guidelines to pursue smartness. More recently, the private hub Developing Ideas (Llorente & Cuenca, 2018) presents the potentials and challenges that Mexico City needs to consider turning the urban area into a smart one, with a focus on its inhabitants and their capacities.
Lastly, the Southern Cone has also part of the wave, with some investigation coming from Argentina, such as the one carried out by Vivas, Britos, García-Martínez, and Cambarieri, that focuses on the role of the ICT in the development of Smart Cities and the digitalization of the urban fabric (Vivas et. al., 2013); but it is in Chile where more research is carried out and where several initiatives have been tried. It can be said that the main author regarding Smart Cities in the Chilean academia is Tironi, who in 2014 starts a project financed with public funds focused on spaces and users (Martin Tironi, 2017), exploring the implementation of sensors, self-tracking and surveillance devices as well in the capital Santiago, both alone and working with Valderrama (Tironi, 2016; Tironi & Valderrama, 2016); as well as studying theoretical and empirical examples in other places with Sánchez, while deepening the concept of ‘smartness’ in an aim to ‘cosmopolitize’ Smart Cities (Tironi & Sánchez, 2015). At the same time, Cohen and Obediente (2014) elaborate a ranking of Smart Cities in Chile working with Fundación País Digital (Digital Country Foundation) and Universidad del Desarrollo (UDD), where “28 indicators were used, divided into six component axes:
environment, mobility, government, economy, society and quality of life;” (Cohen &
Obediente, 2014, p. 3), making a parallel with international examples. More recently, the
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academic writes that “the so-called smart urbanism arises from the premise that, through the application of digital solutions, cities can be transformed into more efficient, predictable, and sustainable territories.” (Tironi, 2019, p. 1) and questions the consequences of those
decisions on individuals and urban spaces, whilst he uses the figure of ‘the idiot’ to argue about the issues taken for granted in the construction of Smart Cities and the lack of interrogation (Tironi, 2019; Tironi & Valderrama, 2019). Alongside with them, private companies and NGOs have also shown great interest on the topic and on the actual implementation of Smart City strategies in the country, such as the efforts that País Digital initiates in 2016 to understand how the current was being carried out and interpreted in Latin America (Cartajena, 2016), a labor that is complemented with the project created by
Corporación de Fomento a la Producción (CORFO), the national agency for regional development, a methodological and strategical plan that acknowledges the strengths and potentialities of Chile’s main cities in order to transform them into Smart Cities in an orchestrated and organized way (CORFO, 2016). This plan focuses on improving the
citizens’ quality of life by making use of the territories’ particular capacities and knowledge, in the dimensions of environment, mobility, healthcare, security, and government, privileging one of those specific aspects in a certain region, based on their needs and goals (CORFO, 2016); in the case of Biobío Region, which is the area where this research’s case study is located, the main focus is environment and transport, with small interventions that seek better management of waste and a circular economy, and a diminishment of traffic congestion.
From academia as well, Jirón, Imilán, Lange, and Mansilla analyze a particular project in Santiago, framed in what they call ‘placebo interventions’ (Jirón et al., 2020), plans that cannot address or solve any problem coming from the socioeconomic Latin American background, but that “seek to alleviate the perception of symptoms on the part of urban inhabitants by emulating the effects of a ‘world-class city’ narrative” (Jirón et al., 2020, p 15), where it appears to be more important to seem smart than actually being it, adding as well that the neoliberal context of the country is fertile soil for technocratic and paternalistic urban planning. Finally, the study of smartness does not only come from the capital and has generated special interest in Concepción, where Durán analyzes the opportunities and challenges that the city faces becoming smart (Durán, 2020), as well as the gaps that it needs to fill to reach its goals, remarking that the urban area does count on with certain conditions for its implementation, but that it requires to invest on other matters otherwise it
“will not be achieved if the city does not develop a civic conscience on the part of its citizens, since a support network is necessary to sustain this project, linking the public administration
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with the community, where common interests can be achieved through collective efforts and thus mutual benefits can be obtained.” (Durán, 2020, p. 32)
Having shown the precedent material while making a review of the Latin American cases and research developed, it can be said that the Smart City concept has a slightly different
interpretation and application than in other latitudes. The smart narrative intends to address the city offering it improvements and automatization of already existing processes, turning everyday situations into smart. Nevertheless, the most significant issue is that the Latin American region does not count on the same socioeconomic and infrastructural grid and because of that, it seems that the Smart City discourses land into a territory that embrace them as dissociated from the local reality, trying to solve structural problems with smartness, putting special efforts on ICT, transport and knowledge production, areas that show a slow development in the region in general.
3.3 Urban (social) conflicts and the Right to the (Smart or not) City
It is unavoidable that the current economic model and the actual era of globalization shape urban development, and in that sense, it is inescapable that decisions and policies tend to be made based on politic-economic interests to compete within the global scale, something that, of course, affects the way we live in the city. This is a matter that, although not being
necessarily linked to smartness, is deeply discussed by authors such as Brenner, Marcuse, and Mayer, which demand a turn to thinking about cities for their inhabitants and not for the economic goals that can be reached through new urban transformations (Brenner et al., 2009), but if investment, budget, and profit are a central part of the discourses surrounding city-making, it is difficult to put more focus on what may be more important for an urban area’s inhabitants. In that sense, Mayer remarks that this produces a polarization between the different scales in which cities interact locally and globally, a condition that can be found in the core of urban competition (Mayer, 2019) and that cannot escape that “cities at the top of the hierarchy are increasingly shaped by intensifying transnational links and flows, leading to new forms of inequality as well as to new avenues for action” (Mayer, 2019, p. 1), which according to her produce consequences that, unplanned or not, create conditions for position-making and asymmetry, creating uneven conditions for the urban different actors.
Castells sustains that “as much as 'the city' is not a framework but a social practice in
constant flux, the more it becomes an issue, the more it is a source of contradictions and the more its social manipulation is linked to the ensemble of social and political conflicts”
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(Castells, 1978, p. 93), exposing the intrinsic nature of the urban area as a social fabric, a place that is not only a city because of its material manifestation but for the processes contained in it, such as the society and the individual, and the main issue in the
contemporary landscape is that “capitalist cities are not only sites for strategies of capital accumulation; they are also arenas in which the conflicts and contradictions associated with historically and geographically specific accumulation strategies are expressed and fought out.” (Brenner et al., 2009). Undoubtedly, as long as certain groups are marginalized and not taken into account for the construction of our dwellings, the production of conflicts result into a constant installed in the urban development, it is an issue that will inevitably turn into the mobilization of those left behind, the creation of what can be understood as a social movement in the urban field, which Castells defines as “a certain type of organization of social practices, the logic of whose development contradicts the institutionally dominant social logic” (Castells, 1978, p. 93), a phenomenon that goes beyond planned projects and prototypes, challenging what policy and decision-makers may have established in paper and demand for urban governance. Nevertheless, for people to act and mobilize there are initial sparks that trigger the discontent, which can be understood as urban conflicts, “struggles for land and urban services, environmental or heritage mobilizations, opposition to public projects or the authorization of certain urban uses, antagonisms between groups over land use, or political movements focused on the local effects of global trends” (Melé, 2019, p. 2), those are the reasons why citizens become political subjects and demand inclusion.
Indeed, the importance of the citizens and their participation in the construction of their city has already been presented and discussed in the early stages and the previous paragraphs, being it relevant to highlight the role that inhabitants play in the urban dynamics are essential issues that any possible model for urban management would have to incorporate.
Consequently, Kitchin et al. (2018) treat urban governance from the focus of social justice as well as from ‘the right to the city’ (Harvey, 2014; Lefebvre, 2003), a current that Willis (K. S.
Willis, 2019) treats in her article published in the book “The right to the Smart City” (Cardullo et al., 2019), and that Domaradzka also links in her article (Domaradzka, 2018). Furthermore, the topic was already a concern more than a decade ago, when UNO Habitat adverted the importance of creating people-oriented smart urbanizations through a flagship program (UNO Habitat, 2008) and after them, the same issue is highlighted by The World Bank (Eskelinen et al., 2015) and Rosa Luxemburg Foundation (Morozov & Bria, 2018), which claim for the democratization of technology-driven urbanizations. More recently, several authors have dug
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into the topic, for example Tadili and Fasly, which look for empirical material to show the incidence of citizen participation in the Global South context (Tadili & Fasly, 2019), or Sadowski, who looks critically to the ownership of spaces in the city while questioning the model to “move beyond treating the city merely as a place to extract value from and start thinking of it as also a space to exercise dominion over” (Sadowski, 2020, p. 1) as a shift from economic goals, and Jian, Geertman and White, academics that argue for a smart urban governance perspective that challenges the technocratic view (Jiang et al., 2020).
With all that in mind, it becomes crucial to understand and to explore the role that citizens play as political subjects within the Smart City, as Vanolo, Shelton and Lodato widely observe (Shelton & Lodato, 2019; Vanolo, 2016); it is mandatory to look at the issues that inhabitants consider conflictive, and which challenge their view and aspirations for their city. Considering the earlier definitions and assertions regarding smartness, social movements, and urban conflicts, the present research interprets the last two as a mixture and talks instead of urban social movements, presuming that the conflict that generates the mobilization has an urban root and that it is the social fabric the one demonstrating it through action within the city, which in the smart context is linked to practices based on ‘smartness’.
4 The PACYT project case
4.1 Smartness from the Global South to the southernmost Metropolitan Area Concepción is the core of a growing metropolitan area with almost a million inhabitants (Corporación Ciudades, 2019) many of whom are students and young professionals (INE, 2017), having a rate of 55 graduates per 1.000 inhabitants (Cohen & Obediente, 2014). It is the biggest urban zone in the southern half of Chile, the second most important city in the country (Corporación Ciudades, 2019; INE, 2017) which conurbates 11 municipalities with different sizes, backgrounds, and stages of development (Laboratorio Biociudades, n.d.), being Concepción the central and most relevant commune within the system, concentrating most of the services (Napadensky, 2016). Because of that, the interregional metropolitan area (Sepúlveda et al., 2020), presented in Figure 1 and 2, is broadly known as Greater Concepción (Gran Concepción), a region that during decades has been facing a
reconversion from industrial urbanization to a tertiary economy, a post-industrial city with special interest on higher education (Hernández, 1983; Pacheco, 1997).
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Greater Concepción Metropolitan Area
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Note. Figure 1 shows Greater Concepción Metropolitan Area. Adapted from Imágenes de alta resolución: Gran Concepción, by SECTRA Programa de Vialidad y Transporte Urbano, 2009.
Copyright 2009 by SECTRA.
In 2013, the central and regional government designed a plan to transform Concepción metropolitan area into a Smart City (MTT, 2014; Vásquez, 2013) through the coordination of Ministerio de Transporte y Telecomunicaciones (MTT, Ministry of Transport and
Telecommunications) and Fundación País Digital (Digital Country Foundation), with the financial support of the World Bank (Vásquez, 2013) and the further incorporation of the Spanish Fund for Latin America and the Caribbean, among others (Innovating Cities, 2016a, 2016b). Cohen and Obediente (2014) rank the city as the 5th smartest in the country,
identifying it as “above average in the Mobility, Government and Society components, but below average in Environment, Economy and Quality of Life.” (Cohen & Obediente, 2014, p.
11), highlighting the presence of Biotrén, the intercommunal metro train. Putting that in perspective, the implementation of a Smart City plan in Chile, in general, and in Concepción, in particular, has a special focus on public transport and the production of knowledge, being its prime initiative the technologization of the urban infrastructure network through a program called “MueveTT” (MTT, 2014), which intended to integrate and digitalize the metropolitan transport system. The model was chosen to strengthen the area’s attractiveness and competitiveness and given the self-describing name “Smart City Gran Concepción”, holding the following objectives (Mulas, 2014):
• Co-design of technology solutions to improve local and municipal services.
• Co-creation of a roadmap for scaling up the adoption of technology solutions to support local and municipal services.
• Co-creation competition (i.e., open challenge) with local stakeholders (eg,
universities, enterprises, civil society, local and municipal government) to develop technology solutions for local and municipal services.
• Co-creation of a strategic plan for the development of a local technology-innovation lab for local and municipal services with the ecosystem.
Greater Concepción Metropolitan Area
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Note. Figure 2 presents the communes that Greater Concepción Metropolitan Area includes. Adapted from Concepción cota 50, by Andrea Morales, 2019. Copyright 2019 by Andrea Morales.
During the years 2014 and 2015 several reports and different activities were developed to socialize the idea of transforming Greater Concepción into a Smart City, working alongside The World Bank and the already extinguished “Innovative Cities” initiative to pursue
sustainable goals in the metropolitan area (Mulas & Barroca, 2015). In that sense, they identified the institutions to work alongside with, such as MTT, CORFO, Ministry of Presidency, Ministry of Economy, CONYCIT, Biobío Regional Government, Santiago Regional Metropolitan Government, Innova Biobío, País Digital Foundation, and some local municipalities; they also made a diagnosis of the local situation and potentials, as well as the
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challenges regarding technological solutions, the governance strategies, and possible external partners, focusing on innovation, the practical guidelines and the impacts that the model would bring to the city and the national level (Mulas & Barroca, 2015). Those ideas were even strengthened by the plan designed by CORFO to digitalize different relevant cities in the country and turn them into smartness (CORFO, 2016), which recognized the previous work and proposed a roadmap for the whole region. In the same line, Universidad de
Concepción (UdeC, University of Concepción), the biggest university in the city (Universidad de Concepción, 2019) had been cultivating the ambition of creating a science park for more than fifteen years, which could finally see the light after the assignation of a huge budget given by the Fondo Nacional de Desarrollo Regional (FNDR, Regional Development National Fund) (Chile-Startups, 2015; A. Hernández, 2014), project that held the name Parque
Científico y Tecnológico del Biobío (PACYT, Science and Technology Park) (Corporación Pacyt, 2021). Regarding the project Smart City Gran Concepción and the MueveTT plan, the initiatives may have faded away or extinguished, since it is not possible to find accurate and continuous information on the internet, considering that no recent information can be found and that the websites related to the programs and their channels are offline.
4.2 The PACYT project and the Smart narrative
Indirectly framed in the Smart Cities’ plan for Concepción, a big urbanization project in the form of a science park was launched in 2014 after the assignation of resources to materialize it (Chile-Startups, 2015; A. Hernández, 2014; Intendencia del Bio Bío, 2014). The initiative was shaped as an extensive R+D initiative already socialized in 2012 (PACYT Biobío, 2012), behind the name Parque Científico y Tecnológico (PACYT, Science and Technology Park), which would be administered by Corporación de Administración del Parque Científico y Tecnológico del Bío Bío (Corporación PACYT, Bío Bío Science and Technology Park Administration Corporation, PACYT Corporation), a public-private partnership created in 2016 (Risso, 2016) that gathers: Universidad de Concepción (UdeC, University of Concepción), the educational institution behind the idea, Gobierno Regional del Biobío (GORE BIOBIO, Biobío Regional Government), and private businesses. A project with the intention “to be an international scientific and technological reference, focused on innovation, entrepreneurship and knowledge generation, oriented to the development of the potential of the territory and the country, subject to environmental limits and promoting the articulation of the public, private, academic and social worlds.”(PACYT Corporation, n.d.-b), a vision that fits the Smart Cities definitions.