Smart Citizens: Exploring the Tools of the Urban Bottom-Up Movement

  • Sabine Niederer
  • Ruurd Priester


As web technology and (big) data continue to transform how we organize ourselves, scholarly research increasingly zooms in on the socio-material conditions of citizen participation and public engagement, the objects and devices that organize publics. Where social issues may often be the driver of such public engagement, increasingly the city and, more specifically, the neighborhood itself have become a central objects connecting their inhabitants through online networks and neighborhood events. Tools and apps for citizen participation then weave together neighborhood stakeholders (e.g. inhabitants, municipal parties and entrepreneurs). This paper zooms in on a sample of 40 such tools that enable and organize bottom-up citizen participation in the city of Amsterdam. Combining a theoretical framework with content analysis, digital methods and data visualization, this paper marks the starting point of a longitudinal analysis of online tools for the urban bottom-up movement.


Actor-network theory Citizen participation Content analysis Neighborhood initiatives Participatory turn Public engagement 



The research for the case study was conducted at the Citizen Data Lab during a data sprint in October 2014, with fellow researchers Fernando van der Vlist and Cristel Kolopaking of the Digital Methods Initiative at the University of Amsterdam, Dept. of Media Studies, and information designers Gabriele Colombo, Federica Bardelli and Carlo de Gaetano of Density Design Lab at the Politecnico di Milano. We would like to thank Pakhuis de Zwijger, Juan-Carlos Goilo at the Amsterdam municipality and Michel Vogler at Hallo IJburg for their collaboration. Furthermore, we would like to thank Amsterdam Creative Industries Network for their support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Citizen Data LabAmsterdam University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Digital Media and Creative IndustriesAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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