A smart and ubiquitous urban future? Contrasting large-scale agendas and street-level dreams

Johanna Ylipulli


This article examines the dreams and wishes of young-adult city residents regarding future ICT development, comparing its findings with two visions of ICT development offered by large-scale urban agendas, namely ‘smart cities’ and ‘ubiquitous computing.’ The article explores how the visions of ordinary city inhabitants contest or resonate with grand visions of urban future, and investigates alternative agendas that might be built upon those visions. The research site, the city of Oulu in northern Finland, offers a concrete example of a ‘future city’ in which many ideas relating to ‘smart’ and ‘ubiquitous’ urban space have been put into practice. The results indicate there is an urgent need to address questions pertaining to control, agency, and resistance in designing further technology for cities and to employ design practices that enable the creation and implementation of bottom-up visions.


Ubiquitous computing, smart city, ethnography, qualitative studies, urban ICT

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.15847/obsOBS002015833