The Programmable City

This is a project funded by the European Research Council Advanced Grant (2013-2017) PI - Professor Rob Kitchin.

Software is essential to the functioning of cities. It is deeply and pervasively embedded into the systems and infrastructure of the built environment and in the management and governance of urban societies.

Rob Kitchin DCC Traffic
Software-enabled technologies and services augment and facilitate how we understand and plan cities, how we manage urban services and utilities, and how we live urban lives.

The Programmable City project is undertaking a sustained programme of research on how software makes a difference to how social, spatial and economic life takes place, providing a comprehensive and groundbreaking interdisciplinary analysis of the two core inter-related aspects of the emerging programmable city: (a) Translation: how cities are translated into code, and (b) Transduction: how code reshapes city life.

In order to examine how software makes a difference to contemporary urbanism, the analysis is organized with respect to four key urban practices – understanding, managing, working, and living in the city, with each sub-project focusing on a particular question.

  Translation: City into code Transduction: Code reshapes city
Understanding the city (Knowledge) How are digital data generated and processed about cities and their citizens? How does software drive public policy development and implementation?
Managing the city (Governance) How are discourses and practices of city governance translated into code? How is software used to regulate and govern city life?
Working in the city (Production) How is the geography and political economy of software production organised? How does software alter the form and nature of work?
Living in the city (Social Politics) How is software discursively produced and legitimated by vested interests? How does software transform the spatiality and spatial behaviour of individuals?

Fieldwork will be carried out principally in Dublin, with a secondary site in Boston. Both cities are key sites of agglomeration for software production and both are experiencing forms of programmable urbanism.  For more information on The Programmable City please see the website:

This project has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no. 323636.