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Every year since 2009 our flagship journal, the Annals of the American Association of Geographers, has published a special issue that highlights geographic research around a significant global theme.

The twelfth special issue of the Annals, published in March 2020, brings together 21 articles plus an introduction, edited by Ling Bian, on smart spaces and places. Over a two-year period, papers that address how ‘smart’ technologies have advanced rapidly throughout society and across geographic spaces and places were sought from a variety of backgrounds. Authors were encouraged to explore theoretical, methodological, and empirical approaches to address questions such as how to make spaces and places ‘smart’, how the ‘smartness’ affects the way we perceive, analyze, and visualize spaces and places, and what role geographies play in knowledge production and decision making in such a ‘smart’ era. 

In this special issue, spaces and places are understood broadly from a range of views, including social, cultural, political, ethical, legal, economic, behavioral, ontological, and cognitive perspectives. To help facilitate discussion, the special issue is divided into four thematic areas: (1) spaces, places, and smart-ness; (2) analytical smartness; (3) critical smartness; and (4) smart sustainability and policy. What emerges is a critical conversation around the topic of smartness where the central arguments being made independently by each of the authors serve to complement rather than contradict the conclusions of one another. Therefore, several cross cutting themes surrounding smart technologies are brought to the surface throughout the special issue. Authors press for the need to conceive of space as relational and more than its absolute coordinates. Smart urban governance is also of primary importance to several authors as they approach how to adopt and adapt to these new technologies.

The 21 articles included in this special issue each bring their own position to the developing smart landscape. Some of the topics explored in the issue include the public’s reaction to the introduction of smart technologies in spaces as varied as music festivals or the workplace; the types of research possibilities that are capable through the use of smart technology such as detecting exposure to pollution or locations of abandoned houses; questions of representation and diversity within smart data production; and the host of considerations that must be taken into account when implementing smart technology in policy, infrastructure, and food and transportation systems.

While “the collection of articles in this special issue showcases the breadth and depth of research in spaces, places, and smartness,” special issue guest editor Ling Bian argues the issue “is far from being comprehensive, but serves to foster further intellectual exchanges. Although it might take time for the discipline to fully grasp whether new geographic paradigms have or will arise when society moves into the smart era, new challenges will always advance the discipline forward.”

Special Issue: Smart Spaces and Places
Table of Contents

Free Access: Introduction: Smart Spaces and Places by Ling Bian

Spaces, Places, and Smartness

Free Access: Understanding the New Human Dynamics in Smart Spaces and Places: Toward a Splatial Framework by Shih-Lung Shaw & Daniel Sui

Free Access: Being Smarter about Space: Drawing Lessons from Spatial Science by Ate Poorthuis & Matthew Zook

Smart Festivals? Security and Freedom for Well-Being in Urban Smart Spaces by Jeremy W. Crampton, Kara C. Hoover, Harrison Smith, Steve Graham & J. Colette Berbesque

Powers of Division: “Smart” Spaces as Controlling Workplace Activity Fragmentation by Jonathan Stiles & Clinton Andrews

Smart Spaces, Information Processing, and the Question of Intelligence by Casey R. Lynch & Vincent J. Del Casino Jr.

Exploding the Phone Book: Spatial Data Arbitrage in the 1990s Internet Boom by Will B. Payne & David O’Sullivan

Analytical Smartness

Rethinking Spatial Tessellation in an Era of the Smart City by Jin Xing, Renee Sieber & Stéphane Roche

Understanding Place Characteristics in Geographic Contexts through Graph Convolutional Neural Networks by Di Zhu, Fan Zhang, Shengyin Wang, Yaoli Wang, Ximeng Cheng, Zhou Huang & Yu Liu

Spatial Learning in Smart Applications: Enhancing Spatial Awareness through Visualized Off-Screen Landmarks on Mobile Devices by Rui Li

Assessing Mobility-Based Real-Time Air Pollution Exposure in Space and Time Using Smart Sensors and GPS Trajectories in Beijing by Jing Ma, Yinhua Tao, Mei-Po Kwan & Yanwei Chai

Individual Vacant House Detection in Very-High-Resolution Remote Sensing Images by Shengyuan Zou & Le Wang

The Missing Parts from Social Media–Enabled Smart Cities: Who, Where, When, and What? by Yihong Yuan, Yongmei Lu, T. Edwin Chow, Chao Ye, Abdullatif Alyaqout & Yu Liu

Critical Smartness

The Smart City Conundrum for Social Justice: Youth Perspectives on Digital Technologies and Urban Transformations by Michele Masucci, Hamil Pearsall & Alan Wiig

“Smart” Discourses, the Limits of Representation, and New Regimes of Spatial Data by Craig Dalton, Clancy Wilmott, Emma Fraser & Jim Thatcher

Technology as Ideology in Urban Governance by Luis F. Alvarez León & Jovanna Rosen

Civic Infrastructure and the Appropriation of the Corporate Smart City by Sung-Yueh Perng & Sophia Maalsen

How Smart Cities Became the Urban Norm: Power and Knowledge in New Songdo City by Glen David Kuecker & Kris Hartley

Smart Sustainability and Policy

Open Access: The Struggles of Smart Energy Places: Regulatory Lock-In and the Swedish Electricity Market by Darcy Parks & Anna Wallsten

Toward Smart Foodsheds: Using Stakeholder Engagement to Improve Informatics Frameworks for Regional Food Systems by Allan D. Hollander, Casey Hoy, Patrick R. Huber, Ayaz Hyder, Matthew C. Lange, Angela Latham, James F. Quinn, Courtney M. Riggle & Thomas P. Tomich

Smart Transportation for All? A Typology of Recent U.S. Smart Transportation Projects in Midsized Cities by Scott B. Kelley, Bradley W. Lane, Benjamin W. Stanley, Kevin Kane, Eric Nielsen & Scotty Strachan

Challenges and Opportunities for Coping with the Smart Divide in Rural America by Ruopu Li, Kang Chen & Di Wu

The Annals of the American Association of Geographers publishes six times a year (January, March, May, July, September and November). See the table of contents (below) of the Smart Spaces and Places special issue or go to the T&F website to access the full articles. If you are interested in submitting a paper to the Annals, please refer to the information for authors.