What Are Cognitive Cities?

  • Matthias Finger
  • Edy Portmann
Part of the Studies in Systems, Decision and Control book series (SSDC, volume 63)


“Smart city” as a concept is an appropriate and valuable answer to the efficiency challenges modern cities are facing today. Its epistemic foundations, however, rooted as they are in (command and) control theory and scientific management, lead to a very traditional and mostly technocratic view of urban management and government. Yet, the new urban challenges cannot be addressed solely by ways of increased efficiency. These challenges also—and probably mostly so—pertain to sustainability and resilience, requiring new and innovative approaches to urban governance. Such approaches will have to involve the “human factor”, cognition, creativity along with the ability to learn so as to be able to deal with disruptive changes (resilience). In addition, cities are complex sociotechnical systems and it is therefore not possible to address their challenges thanks to technological developments and innovations only. In this chapter we will introduce a novel approach to overcoming the limitations of the concept of “smart cities” and explain the conceptual framework that underlies our approach, as well as the different chapters of this book. As such, we offer a broad and comprehensive perspective on so-called “cognitive cities.”


Cognitive System Urban System Smart City Slum Inhabitant Urban Governance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Technology and Public Policy (ITPP)École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)LausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.Institute of Information Systems (IWI)University of BernBernSwitzerland

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