CIRM Seminar | De la ville intelligente à la ville intelligible [From the intelligent to the intelligible city]

Thursday, October 29, 2020 12:15to13:45

CIRM invites you to reflect on the possibilities, limits, and promises of new technologies in an urban context based on the collective work De la ville intelligente à la ville intelligible (2019, Presses de l’Université du Québec) edited by Emmanuelle Caccamo, Julien Walzberg, Tyler Reigeluth, and Nicolas Merveille.

This bilingual seminar will bring together a panel of experts in urban studies, innovation, and data governance to provoke in-depth reflection on the deployment of new technologies in cities in relation to the resolution of contemporary crises.

At a time when the world’s metropolises are increasingly turning to so-called “smart” technological solutions in order to meet the many challenges they face, there is reason to question the legitimacy of such solutions. Do they allow for an in-depth understanding of social issues? Do they promote serious commitment on the stakeholders’ part? These are all questions that our experts will be commenting on along with two of the book’s authors.

This issue is of close interest to CIRM as coordinator of the Montréal en commun project’s Data for Society Hub, which is helping to bring the metropolis into the era of digital intelligence.


  • Hoi Kong, codirector of CIRM’s “Governance, institutions, and citizen participation” axis and full professor at the Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia


  • Nicolas Merveille, professor in the Department of Strategy, Social and Environmental Responsibility at ESG-UQAM
  • Jean-François Gagné, professor in the Department of Political Science at Université de Montréal, researcher at CÉRIUM, and member of the International Observatory on the Societal Impacts of Artificial Intellligence and Digital Technology (OBVIA)


  • Lyne Nantel, doctoral candidate in Urban Studies at Institut national de la recherche scientifique’s Urbanisation Culture Société Research Centre
  • Stéphane Guidoin, director of Montreal’s Urban Innovation Lab (MUIL)
  • François Croteau, mayor of the Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie borough and the City of Montreal’s Executive Committee member responsible for the smart city, information technologies, innovation, and higher education
  • Sarah Gagnon-Turcotte, director of OpenNorth’s Applied Research Lab
  • Ana Brandusescu, 2019-2021 CIRM Professor of Practice


Where: Espace Montréal via Zoom

When: Thursday, October 29 from 12:15 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.

The discussion as well as the question period will be held in English and French. Registration is mandatory; the event link will be emailed to you 24 hours in advance.


Book summary:

Urban space has always been synonymous with speed and abundance. However, the phenomenon of urbanisation, which has intensified since the industrial revolution, is now spreading on an unprecedented scale. While it seems to be unfolding endlessly, this urbanisation is at the same time producing the limits of its own growth — pollution of ecosystems and the biosphere, congestion, overpopulation, etc. Faced with the scale of this crisis, more and more major urban centres are taking the initiative to establish themselves as models of “smart” cities.

This book looks at this great technological project by exploring the challenges that the “smart city” poses to democracy and ecology, the hold of “algorithmic governmentality” and technological culture on our lives, the threat to our freedoms as citizens, and our rights to demand a fair and inclusive city. The impetus for this book is certainly critical, but not in the sense of a denunciation or a simple refusal: rather, the contributions as a whole seek to challenge the increasingly hegemonic discourses and prevailing ideas according to which it is possible to solve contemporary crises through the “smart city”. Aimed at a readership that is disillusioned by technocentric discourses, the book seeks to open up the space of possibilities by imagining alternative trajectories. (Source: translated from Presses de l’Université du Québec)

CIRM supports independent bookstores and encourages you to order this book through Les Libraires.

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