AudaCities – Governing and innovating in the real digital city

2017 à 2018

Background and issues

Digital technology is definitely transforming cities, but not in the way the “smart city” narrative envisioned it. The daily life of city-dwellers and some urban services have undergone a revolution, but this change has come from external players, and has operated outside the traditional strategies of urban planners and public authorities. The digital revolution has rather been driven by economic players like the GAFA, Waze, Uber, AirBnB, LeBonCoin and Blablacar, citizen initiatives like OpenStreetMap and AdopteUnObjet, “civic tech” drivers such as Fluicity, Civocracy, MaVoix, Jaidemaville, and urban citizens themselves inventing new practices.

This “disruption” of urban services, of the traditional interplay of actors and of the functioning of local institutions is playing itself out daily and in real-time.  The real digital city is creating itself without a master plan, largely through strategic appropriation à la Uber. The digital revolution has multiplied the number of players in a position to take action, the sheer volume of information being produced and exchanged, the number of interactions between people, organisations, objects, and spaces… without necessarily converting all city-dwellers into “smart citizens” that are directly involved in the governance of their region.

Instead of reflecting on how digitalization will make the city easier to govern, one should rather start from the opposite principle: that the digital revolution is making the city more and more ungovernable day after day.


Following the projects on:

IDDRI is partnering with FING to explore governance and innovation in the real digital city.

Research objectives

How does one govern and innovate in the real-world digital city? What strategies should be used, how do the various players contribute and what new roles must they take on? What are the desirable (and viable) visions of the city and its contributors that can replace the smart city concept?

Based on descriptive and analytical research on the “real digital city” and the urban strategies that attempt to take it into consideration in and outside France, the AudaCities project brings together those who design, create, govern, transform and experience the city and share the goal of reflecting on the factors determining the future governability of cities.

Funding and partners

The Audacities project is conducted by IDDRI and FING in association with several public and private entities: ADEME; Cap Digital; la Caisse des Dépôts; GRDF; Interconnectés; Renault; Sciences Po Paris; Uber; Veolia and Vinci.