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Un-Splintering Urbanism: Examining the Integration of Urban Infrastructures

McLean, Anthony J (2018) Un-Splintering Urbanism: Examining the Integration of Urban Infrastructures. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Modern cities today are dependent upon the large infrastructure networks that provide citizens with food, energy, water, telecommunications, transport and waste removal, yet in many cities infrastructures are more than a century old and in need of replacement or repair. The privatisation of many utilities and the often ‘siloed’ management structures of infrastructures can create problems arising from the lack of ‘integrated’ service provision. Today there is a growing discourse around the potential for ‘infrastructure integration’ which is offered as a way to create resource and service efficiencies and to create space for technical and system innovations. There is recognition that future infrastructure needs to be smarter, more cost-efficient and more environmentally friendly and ‘integration’ is often cited as a way to achieve this. However, what exactly is meant by the term infrastructure integration? Although there is broad agreement about the importance of integration, precisely what this means in practice is unclear. This PhD project aims to open the black box of infrastructure integration, to examine the evolving context and the potential of integration and to explore its meanings and implications in theory and practice. The conceptual ideas of the study are grounded on in-depth qualitative research in three cities reflecting different institutional and cultural contexts: Seattle in the United States, Munich in Germany, and Sheffield in the United Kingdom. The approach seeks to test some hypotheses about the links between the institutional, organisational and regulatory context of cities and the potential for urban infrastructure integration. I treat infrastructures as socio-technical systems and I aim to demonstrate that the meanings and implications of infrastructure integration are dependent upon the socio-political institutional frameworks that cities operate in. This research finds three different forms of infrastructure integration: evolutionary integration in Seattle, in which integration arises out of the day to day operational necessities of infrastructure management; innovative integration in Munich, in which integration arises as a result of innovative organisational practices inherent within the city; and aspiring strategic integration in Sheffield, in which the city aims to coordinate the investment priorities of privatised utilities, yet lacks the authority to coerce the privatised utilities to cooperate.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Urban Studies and Planning (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.745673
Depositing User: Dr Anthony J McLean
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2018 08:44
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2018 09:55
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/20636

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