Stage 4
11:15 - 11:45
Smart Cities
Why & How To Hack Cities For Sustainability

Short thesis

The talk will introduce you to the idea of sustainable (circular, open and free) cities and explain why hacking seems to be the only viable technique to invent and create these cities. A quick theoretical introduction will be followed by a catalogue of examples for city hacks reaching from hacking urban furniture to hacking large scale infrastructures. Some hacks have been done and some are yet to do.


This talk is about inventing sustainable circular cities. It unfolds a positive utopia in order to inspire hacking our cities – for the better.

It starts with an analysis why it is so hard to even envision sustainable cities today: We are surrounded in them by unsustainable structures and processes every day. They shape our days and occupy our mind and make it hard to see beyond. We are “locked in” – physically and also mentally!

How to get out of these “prisons for our imagination”? Hacking seems to be the best and most sustainable answer we got. Hacking as a way to repurpose already existing systems can unveil new potentials and realities. Let’s create these and experience them and by that “unlock” our imagination step by step. And it is just sustainable to use what is already there!

After a presentation of this analysis the talk will present a longer and entertaining list of examples of hacks. They reach from small street-art-like interventions into road markings to complex hacks to outsmart camera surveillance that consolidates current – linear – power structures. 

It will end with an outlook how everyone can get active and contribute to the global reinvention of our cities through hacking.

The talk has another political dimension: It wants to contribute to the “smart city” discourse. This discourse is often governed by companies or institutions that push ideas to deploy sensor networks or similar technologies across the city that can quickly be turned into surveillance and “control” systems. But there are and positive ways to make our cities smart and effective that don’t create “potential weapons” against its citizen but the other way around. Let’s find them and advocate for them! And by doing that discover and discuss what are really good uses for digital technology and what may not be that good. 

Context: The talk presents ideas and research of the art and activism city hacking project <a href=”>”The City Is Open Source”</a>.</p>