Designing for Controversies in Responsible Smart Cities


The municipality of Amersfoort, pop. 155.000 and growing, is at the brink of a series of transformations in areas of sustainability, smart tech, and democratic counselling. How do you design these major transitions and allow the voices of various stakeholders to be heard?

Recently, ‘smart city’ business, policy and design visions have gained considerable traction. Smart cities aim to improve services and livability through ICTs and supporting infrastructures and are rapidly gaining foothold in cities worldwide. These smart city visions have however received vehement criticism, amongst others regarding their the ill-defined notion of ‘smartness’ and a-political technocratic nature. This project aims to contribute a critical and affirmative approach to a people-centric smart city.

We shall do so by designing a collaboration platform that supports the definition and establishment of role divisions between partners in the quadruple helix, to empower all stakeholders to organise their city to their benefit with the help of new technologies as well as to keep/acquire agency of the use of their city. Departing from the established concept of socio-technical controversies, our focus will be on identifying and further developing the contribution of design to government-citizen-academic-industry collaborations for realising smarter cities, exploring the mechanisms of such collaborations, and identifying key enablers and barriers. This ‘designing for controversies’ approach entails creating responsible smarter cities that strike an optimal chord between civic engagement and technological innovations, while supporting all stakeholders’ needs. Outcome of the project is a verified architecture for a smart city collaboration platform.


Chapter in book

Publications for the general public


Project number


Main applicant

Prof. M.C. van der Voort

Affiliated with

Universiteit Twente, Faculty of Engineering Technology (ET), Design, Production & Management


22/05/2018 to 30/09/2021