Cities increasingly identify themselves as a Smart City in order to pursue desired outcomes. These outcomes include improved sustainability, accessibility, prosperity and quality of life, and also hold a promise with regard to increased citizen participation. The current body of literature is limited to an ambiguous and often normative view on the definition and role of citizens in Smart Cities. Through qualitative analysis these two aspects are assessed for four Dutch Lighthouse Cities funded by the European Commission: Eindhoven (Triangulum), Rotterdam (Ruggedised), Utrecht (IRIS) and Groningen (Making-City). Concluded is that citizen engagement in Lighthouse Cities is limited to tokenism. This observation requires critical evaluation, because the European Commission claims to aspire bottom-up participation. This discrepancy can, in part, be explained by the depoliticisation of Smart Cities, motives to legitimise the prevalence of conflicting interests in Lighthouse Cities, and the current tendering process within the Horizon 2020 Smart Cities and Communities programme.

citizen participation, engagement, Lighthouse Cities, smart cities
dr. EA Rijshouwer, dr. SRJM van Bohemen
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

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