As a result of the growth of urban areas globally and pressure on existing city infrastructures, planners have turned towards technology to create tools for streamlining services and connecting citizens. However, the drive for digitally infused urban environments has too often focused on top-down systems design. This leaves communities disconnected from the ownership of the technologies they use and the data they create, and does not build on or contribute to the cultural life of the city, nor engage its artists and creative industries. This has created a space to propose new approaches to combine art and ICT to stimulate innovation and build trust and ownership in the Internet of Things and Smart Cities development.
In light of this, this paper discusses the approach developed by FutureEverything entitled 'Open Prototyping': a framework to introduce art, creativity and public participation in technology innovation and demonstration (Hemment 2015). The paper outlines the approach and reports on pilots in the Smart Nation programme of the Singapore Government, CityVerve the UK's IoT and Smart City demonstrator, and FAULT LINES, a talent development programme supported by Arts Council England. Through these cases, this paper looks at how the combination of art and ICT through Open Prototyping can add novel, imaginative dimensions to the Smart City, and build literacy around the IoT and Smart City innovation, for both the public and industry alike. We argue this art practice can create experiences around important social impacts and consequences of technology, and thereby enables citizens and service users to question whether solutions are either, or both, acceptable and desirable. Moreover, we discuss how the input of artists and designers can help to both identify inherent limitations and create insights to feed into the design and development of the technologies. In order to help to realise the goal of urban development, which is to create vibrant, smart urban environments which are relevant, transparent and wanted by citizens, we argue that we must initiate and broker opportunities where people, technology and art can meet to collectively drive innovation.