Call for Papers: Special Issue on Decoding The Smart City

Call for papers

IxD&A (Interaction Design and Architecture(s)

Special Issue on Decoding The Smart City

Guest Editors

Teija Vainio, Elise Hodson, Michel Nader Sayún – Aalto University, Finland and Ralf-Martin Soe, Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech), Estonia


Investment in smart city initiatives and research is growing, presenting new opportunities to analyse their impacts. The operations of smart cities, especially consumption and movement, are well documented. Smart systems monitor resource use and environmental conditions, such as air and water quality, energy consumption and heating and cooling. Sensors, personal devices, payment and other systems allow governments and vendors to follow traffic patterns and understand how individuals and vehicles move, use public transit and bike share programs, parking and more. Other forms of surveillance trace personal activity and most recently, the spread of COVID-19. These systems have been useful in optimizing operations, but little has been done to assess if and how smart cities have changed behaviours and quality of life. At the same time, there may be opportunities to use data generated by these systems to evaluate how smart city projects respond to the goals and needs of a variety of stakeholders.

New research methods are emerging that balance qualitative and quantitative data, employing human-centred approaches and innovative technologies with the potential to shed light on the social impacts of smart cities. However, many challenges on how to define and evaluate social impacts in smart cities still remain. Common challenges include a lack of concrete and comparable performance measures, particularly when social impacts are unexpected or intangible, and a lack of consensus on when, how and from whom to collect data. This is further complicated when addressing issues of inclusion and representation.

There are many ways to mix methods in order to achieve a more human-centred focus and to reflect the specific contexts in which the evaluation of smart city projects takes place. Combining smart city technologies and digital engagement tools with approaches based on design research could lead to new understandings of behaviours, values, and quality of life. In addition, the innovative methods of collecting data could promote new sustainable urban development.

This special issue explores the need to assess the social impacts of smart cities and the potential of different methods of data collection to be used to this end.

Topics of Interest

The indicative list of topics of interest for this special issue devoted to ‘Decoding The Smart City’ includes, but is not limited to:

  • Defining and evaluating social impacts of smart city projects
  • Influence of technological solutions in social dynamics and everyday life
  • Methods of data collection, analysis and impact assessment in smart city projects
  • Novel methods for understanding the short and long-term social impacts of smart city projects
  • Research and urban challenges faced in smart city projects
  • Defining smart city stakeholders and their roles in setting goals and evaluating impacts

Important dates

  • Deadline: May 5, 2021
  • Notification to the authors:  July 01, 2021
  • Camera ready paper: July 20, 2021
  • Publication of the special issue: mid August, 2021

Submission procedure

All submissions must be original and may not be under review by another publication.

The manuscripts should be submitted anonymized either in .doc or in .rtf format.

All papers will be blindly peer-reviewed by at least two reviewers. Prospective participants are invited to submit a 8-20 pages paper (including authors’ information, abstract, all tables, figures, references, etc.).

The paper should be written according to the IxD&A authors’ guidelines

Submission page -> (when submitting the paper please choose the section: FS: Decoding The Smart City’)

For scientific advices and for any query please contact the guest-editor:

decodingthesmartcity [dot] org [at] gmail [dot] com