In recent years, urban policy agendas across the world have become increasingly saturated with the idea of the ‘smart city’, frequently proclaimed as the panacea for a broad array of urban problems from congestion to indiscriminate growth, and chiefly driven by coalitions of global ICT corporations and local governments. Many digital technological developments are motivated by environmental challenges, and are therefore deemed paramount in responding to climate change across multiple sectors, including transportation. Although it is unlikely that the benefits of such ‘smart’ investments are reaped equitably, their inherent social justice considerations have hitherto received limited critical scholarly attention, and therefore demand further exploration.
Through a qualitative mixed-method analysis of ongoing technological developments in the transport network of Lagos, Nigeria, my research investigates the social justice implications of rolling out digital infrastructures in response to transport-related environmental challenges. In particular, I seek to identify policy pathways through which smart city projects can most effectively foster equitable climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies, and pinpoint key implications for decision-making at local, municipal and international scales.
Research findings will speak to debates on smart urbanism and cities in the global South by, inter alia, unpacking the relationships between digitised infrastructures, ‘smart’ narratives, urban exclusion and the spatial logics of urban development in the global South through an extensive case study of transport in one of Africa’s largest cities.