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Summer 7-28-2018


The “smart city” has risen to global prominence over the past two decades as an urban planning and development strategy. As a broad but contested toolkit of technological services and policy interventions aimed at improving the efficacy and efficiency of urban systems, the “smart city” is subject to several pressing critiques. This paper acknowledges these concerns, but recognizes the potential of “urban intelligence” to enhance the resiliency of metropolitan areas. As such, we focus on an under-researched dimension of smart city urbanism: its application in peripheral urban areas. The paper introduces a threefold typology of: (a) geographic (spatial); (b) hard (material); and (c) soft (social) urban peripherality. Second, it reviews the concept of urban resilience and considers how its central characteristics can inform the objectives and implementation of “smart city” infrastructures and planning. Six European smart city plans are assessed via a qualitative content analysis, to identify the target of smart city actions; the characteristics of urban resilience mobilized; and the spatial focus of planned interventions. The comparative analysis reveals a variegated set of smart-city approaches. Notably, “smart” actions aimed at enhancing social innovation are the most common type of intervention, while overall there remains a strong tendency for smart urbanism to focus on the urban core. We conclude by calling for a research agenda addressing smartness in, of, and for, peripheral urban spaces and communities.