Background and issues

Digital technology is certainly 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.

Insted the digital revolution has been driven by economic players like 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.

© Vincenzo Di Giorgi

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 digitalisation will make cities easier to govern, we should instead take the opposite view: that the digital revolution is making cities more increasingly ungovernable.

© DR – Source :

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


How can we 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 could 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 France and elswhere, 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.

This project was conducted by Mathieu Saujot and Tatiana de Feraudy.