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Learning from Small Cities project to hold conference and public exhibition

‘(Re)thinking Smart, (Re)building Scale’ Conference will take place from 12-13 November 2021, accompanied by public exhibition open from 12 November- 10 December 2021

Learning from Small Cities project to hold conference and public exhibition

Venue: Building Centre, Store Street, London

Learning from Small Cities, an ESRC-Newton funded research project (2018-2021) led by UCL Geography’s Professor Ayona Datta, is holding a conference and public exhibition this month to disseminate and engage with their findings as the project reaches its final year.

Entitled (Re)thinking Smart, (Re)building Scale, the conference will take place on 12-13 November at the Building Centre near the UCL Main Campus in a hybrid format of in-person and teleconference.

The conference will engage with the project’s research aims: to learn from three small cities which are all undergoing city-wide retrofitting and area-based improvements in smart technologies and infrastructures as part of India's national 100 Smart Cities programme.

Invited scholars from research institutions around the world will discuss their research on themes of smartness, scale, everyday use of technology, governance, small and big data, and data democracy in urban contexts.

The conference will be accompanied by a public exhibition titled ‘Learning from Small Citiesthat will open on 12 November and run until 10 December in the Building Centre’s Foyer Gallery.

Curated by the project team with photographs by Rohit Madan, the exhibition will present findings from Learning from Small Cities to a public audience, inviting visitors to ‘learn’ from small cities through a variety of textual and audio-visual materials, including photographs, animations and GIS storymaps.

Prof. Datta said: “Our project conference and exhibition aim to shift attention from large metropolitan cities such as Mumbai and Delhi to the much neglected but dynamic context of 'small cities' that are now the frontiers of planetary scale urbanisation.”

“As these smaller cities prepare for a new kind of digital urban age through the retrofitting of smart technologies and infrastructures, there is a lot to be learned from the processes through which ordinary citizens experience these radical urban transformations in their everyday lives.

“Learning how citizens live with change will direct us to respond to present and future crises - and build back better for a sustainable and inclusive urban future.”

The event sits within the Global Urbanism research cluster in the department and links to the MSc in Urban Studies as well as the undergraduate module in Digital Geographies (GEOG0164) convened by Prof. Datta.


Shimla, India. Credit: Rohit Madan