Project Summary available for download here
Abstract DIGI-GOV is a research project that aims to understand (I) the role of large digital corporations (LDCs) in digital urban development, (II) how the presence of LDCs in urban planning practice challenge pre-existing modes urban governance, and (III) how LDC-led urban development constitutes a new relational geography of digital cities. DIGI-GOV is thus a chance to call attention to this critical shift in the ways that contemporary digital cities are constructed, planned, mediated and governed. DIGI-GOV expands on prior research that examined Alphabet Inc.’s digital city project in Toronto that raised a number of important issues for urban planners, development practitioners, and urban studies scholars – even if this particular digital city project was ultimately unsuccessful. DIGI-GOV expands this research because the range of services that LDCs provide has increased in both volume and centrality; more and more public and private institutions rely on LDCs for essential digital infrastructures. There is an urgent need to study the trajectories of urbanization that are rolled out under the leadership of LDCs and the tensions in urban governance that are unleashed. DIGI-GOV will shed light on four further cities in addition to Toronto, which have been challenged by the presence of LDCs—namely, Seattle, Washington DC, Bissen, and Eemshaven. The selected cities are some of the few exemplary cases available where LDCs have secured their position in the local urban field. Through qualitative methodological approaches, DIGI-GOV will tease out how these cities are relationally connected through LDC-led urban development, and what scholars and practitioners can learn from these experiences. Examined together, one can scratch at the surface of, and unearth, this new emerging relational geography.