Strategies of visibility in the smart city
Cities across the world are increasingly labelling themselves as smart in one way or another. At the same time, this smartness appears amorphous or invisible in its built urban environment. Critical researchers writing on the smart city regularly express confusion or exasperation about precisely the difficulty to locate the smart in the city. Visibility of the smart city is not a given. This article argues that visibility in the case of the smart city is instead strategically produced, and that the strategy opted for tells us something about the kind of urban imaginary put forward. The article introduces a provisional and non-exhaustive taxonomy of strategies of visibility based on analyses of three different cases of smart city projects (in Brazil, Sweden and Canada) and identifies the ways in which the smart city is made visible (or not)—symbolic presence of smart, modelling smart and ubiquitous invisible smart—and discusses what kind of city is envisioned based on each strategy.