Digital Placemaking: An Analysis of Citizen Participation in Smart Cities

Document Type

Book Section

Publication Title

Smart Cities and Smart Communities

Publication Date



Research on smart cities has focused on areas such as embedded computing technologies in physical spaces, Information Communication Technology (ICT), and big data analytics. In an international forum on the Internet of Things (IoT), a presenter from Cisco showed that 60% of IoT initiatives failed at the proof-of-concept phase because they did not seriously consider the human factors of organizational culture and leadership. A myopic approach that focuses solely on technology does not address the complex and multi-dimensional needs of cities. This chapter examines an early classical model of citizen participation, the Arnstein step ladder model, which has been used as the foundation for scholarly discourse and planning practice for decades. Today, unprecedented technological innovation has changed the nature and extent of citizen engagement. Through the use of advanced ICT, cities are broadening citizen participation. The specific research questions asked are: (1) Does the traditional ladder of citizen participation apply to digital placemaking; (2) What are the commonalities and differences among digital placemaking initiatives around the world and what lessons can be learned from these practical experiences of digital citizenship; and (3) Is digital citizenship participation inclusive and equitable for all citizens?


978-981-19114-5-3 978-981-19114-6-0




Urban Studies and Planning