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The Digital Skin of Cities


Information technologies are now being developed that transform the physical environment, and the human interactions within it, into a “digital skin” of the city. This skin consists of a sensored and metered urban environment. In concert with ubiquitous computing, and the increasing use of electronically-mediated interactions in general, the physical world is becoming a platform for generating much new data on the workings of human society, its interactions with the physical environment, and manifold processes in economics, politics, and social interactions. The city is a subject of this revolution, in the sense that the technologies are predicted to make it possible to manage the physical city in ways not previously possible, but also to make possible major changes in the political and social interactions of people within cities, and between citizens and government. The city is also an objective basis for the revolution, in the sense that it is the sensored and metered platform that can generate unprecedented “big data” for many new types of uses. This revolution opens up many questions for urban theory and research, and many new issues for public and urban policy, which are explored in this paper.


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hal-03461001 , version 1 (01-12-2021)



Chirag Rabari, Michael Storper. The Digital Skin of Cities: Urban Theory and Research in the Age of the Sensored and Metered City, Ubiquitous Computing, and Big Data. 2013. ⟨hal-03461001⟩
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