Smart Cities and Communities

An increasing number of municipalities are collaborating with private technology companies in the spread of smart technologies. This is done in hopes of providing insight into pollution, congestion and waste production in urban areas. However, to what extent are residents involved in the decision-making of their 'smart city'? What are the ethical, economic and political consequences? Furthermore, what influence does the use of smart technology have on social inequality within the city?

What does the research involve?

Here, we explore the role smart technology plays in the governance of a city. We investigate if and how existing questions and requests of the city’s residents have been taken into account as a starting point in the application of smart technologies.


Theme Leads

  • Dr. Jiska Engelbert

    Dr. Jiska Engelbert is Assistant Professor at the Erasmus School of History, Culture & Communication. In addition to coordinating both Digital Cities & Communities and the new LDE Minor “Smart and Shared Cities”, Jiska is Academic Director of “Tackling Inequalities”, the first interdisciplinary Honours Programme for all Master students at the Erasmus University.


  • Dr. Jan Fransen 

    Jan Fransen (PhD and MA in Development Studies) is an expert on urban economic development and resilience at the Institute of Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS). He is a visiting researcher on urban resilience at the Institute of Social Studies (ISS). Jan has over 25 years of experience in small business development, smart cities, resilient communities, poverty reduction and innovation in emerging economies.

Urban digitisation and the democratic process

The smart city must now become inclusive

Communities should be at the core of smart city thinking and making. After all, their data, livelihoods and rights are at stake. Smart city makers often talk people's participation and community engagement, but do people's exclusion. It is, thus, crucial to bring communities (back) into the imagination of their urban futures.
The goal is to generate impact through research and co-creation: together with citizens, social entrepreneurs and policy makers.

Affiliated projects


  • VCC works together with The Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) in the research project 'Digital Society' to address the many pressing questions raised by the emergence of a digital society. In the program 30 leading professors from fourteen universities work together and support the Netherlands to develop technologies and applications that serve societal goals and interests, and which can be an example to all. 


  • On 18 and 19 September, scientists, civil servants, publicists and designers gathered at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam for Beyond Smart Cities Today, a two-day conference on the premises and implications of smart city developments. The Conference was organised by the Centre for BOLD Cities with support of VCC. 

How to build smart, enjoyable cities and hinterlands

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