Smart publics

Smart publics

Smart cities are starting to materialise in urban environments, unevenly and in various forms. The placement of sensors, chargers, digital screens and WiFi points in streetscapes and objects interacts with people’s relationships to the urban environment, to one another and to services accessed in daily life.

Part media, part furniture – these hybrids are thoroughly interconnected with the city itself. This project builds on preliminary research carried out by the research collaborators, to investigate the social, design and governance implications of smart street furniture.

Through a series of cross-institution and multidisciplinary workshops and research case studies (smart benches in London and InLinks in Glasgow), the project will scope, research and historically contextualise smart street furniture to understand whether and how these depart from and challenge values, uses and governance frameworks of pre-existing urban forms, remaking publics and cities in the process.


The project is led by Justine Humphry from the University of Sydney and Bridgette Wessels from the University of Glasgow.

Glasgow team

Professor Bridgette Wessels (Sociology, University of Glasgow)
Professor Simon Joss (Urban Studies, University of Glasgow)  
Dr Peter Merrington, Research Associate (Sociology, University of Glasgow) 
Dr Justine Gangneux, Research Associate (Sociology, University of Glasgow)  
Matthew Hanchard, Research Associate (Sociology, University of Glasgow)

Sydney team

Dr Justine Humphry (Media & Communications, University of Sydney)
Dr Sophia Maalsen (Architecture, Design & Planning, University of Sydney)
Dr Chris Chesher (Media & Communications, University of Sydney)
Professor Robyn Dowling (Architecture, Design & Planning, University of Sydney)
Professor Heather Horst(Media & Communications, University of Sydney)

Professor Gerard Goggin (Media & Communications, University of Sydney)


Professor Emeritus Sara Eriksen (Blekinge Institute of Technology)

Project dates

February 2019 to February 2020


University of Sydney – University of Glasgow - Partnership Collaboration Awards (PCA) (AU $ 39, 371) 


Internationalistation funding opportunities Sydney