Information and communications technology (ICT) is being exploited within cities to enable them to better compete in a global knowledge-based service-led economy. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, cities exploited large technical systems (LTSs)—such as the telegraph, telephony, electrical networks, and other technologies—to enhance their social and economic position. This paper examines how the LTS model applies to ICT deployments, including broadband network, municipal wireless, and related services, and how cities and city planners in the twenty-first century are using or planning to use these technologies. This paper also examines their motivations and expectations, the contribution to date, and the factors affecting outcomes. The findings extend the LTS model by proposing an increased role for organizations with respect to an individual agency. The findings show how organizations form themselves into networks that interact and influence the outcome of the system at the level of the city. The extension to LTS, in the context of city infrastructure, is referred to as the complex city system framework. This proposed framework integrates the role of these stakeholder networks, as well as that of the socioeconomic, technical, and spatial factors within a city, and shows how together they shape the technical system and its socioeconomic contribution.
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