© 2020

Platform Urbanism

Negotiating Platform Ecosystems in Connected Cities


Part of the Geographies of Media book series (GOM)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. Sarah Barns
    Pages 1-33
  3. Sarah Barns
    Pages 35-52
  4. Sarah Barns
    Pages 53-74
  5. Sarah Barns
    Pages 75-77
  6. Sarah Barns
    Pages 79-98
  7. Sarah Barns
    Pages 99-125
  8. Sarah Barns
    Pages 157-169
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 203-232

About this book


This book reflects on what it means to live as urban citizens in a world increasingly shaped by the business and organisational logics of digital platforms. Where smart city strategies promote the roll-out of internet of things (IoT) technologies and big data analytics by city governments worldwide, platform urbanism responds to the deep and pervasive entanglements that exist between urban citizens, city services and platform ecosystems today.   
Recent years have witnessed a backlash against major global platforms, evidenced by burgeoning literatures on platform capitalism, the platform society, platform surveillance and platform governance, as well as regulatory attention towards the market power of platforms in their dominance of global data infrastructure. 
This book responds to these developments and asks: How do platform ecosystems reshape connected cities? How do urban researchers and policy makers respond to the logics of platform ecosystems and platform intermediation? What sorts of multisensory urban engagements are rendered through platform interfaces and modalities? And what sorts of governance challenges and responses are needed to cultivate and champion the digital public spaces of our connected lives.


Smart cities Sharing economy Big data Future cities Platforms

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Sitelines MediaSydneyAustralia

About the authors

Sarah Barns is a digital strategist, policy researcher, practitioner and scholar, with a career-long commitment to cultivating digital public spaces in connected cities. Having worked as policy adviser, digital strategist, urban consultant and creative producer, Sarah completed a PhD on the history of digital urbanism in 2010, using mobile media as a platform for experiential histories of urban activism. In 2014 Sarah was awarded an Urban Studies Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship for her project ‘Platform Urbanism: data infomediaries, city labs and open data experiments in urban governance’, based at Western Sydney University and Australia’s national data science agency Data61. Today Sarah develops urban data policy and strategy for a range of public and private organisations, as well as being one half of Sydney digital placemaking practice Esem Projects.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Platform Urbanism
  • Book Subtitle Negotiating Platform Ecosystems in Connected Cities
  • Authors Sarah Barns
  • Series Title Geographies of Media
  • Series Abbreviated Title Geographies of Media
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore
  • eBook Packages Social Sciences Social Sciences (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-981-32-9724-1
  • Softcover ISBN 978-981-32-9727-2
  • eBook ISBN 978-981-32-9725-8
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XVII, 232
  • Number of Illustrations 2 b/w illustrations, 3 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Human Geography
    Urban Studies/Sociology
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“In this cogently argued and richly illustrated book Sarah Barns details how platform thinking and capitalism is reshaping cities. Rooted in a historical analysis of how the digital has increasingly mediated urban infrastructures and management, she carefully unpacks how platforms such as Uber and Airbnb, as well as companies such as Google and Softbank, have quickly established global operations to provide services for citizens and governments alike. The result is a compelling account of how new platforms are transforming city marketplaces, urban governance and everyday life.” (Rob Kitchin, Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute)

“Platform urbanism is the first analysis of the digital platforms permeating 21st century cities. It is an important text that provides a framework for theorizing the constant flux of platforms as they transform key components of our everyday lives: economic and social exchange, urban governance, and the data infrastructures that facilitate the circulation of people, goods, and information. Readers will leave with a new understanding of the immaterial, digital fabric forming the foundation of cities today.” (Alan Wiig, University of Massachusetts, Boston)