Réka Pétercsák

Phd Student - Smart City Project Management



Réka Pétercsák is a PhD student at Lero, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Software. Her research focuses on smart city project management across organisational boundaries.

I began my PhD research at Lero in 2015, when a research group with a focus on technology adoption opened up at Maynooth University. Before that, I completed a Master of Arts in Anthropology at Maynooth University, and since I wrote my Master’s thesis on smart urban projects and the motivation for participation in digital platforms, I thought this would be a wonderful way to continue looking into how people adopt different kinds of technologies to understand, contribute to, and engage with the city.

A smart city is one which works to ensure better management of public resources and creates innovative, data-driven, evidence-based processes to enable more manageable and environmentally efficient ways of urban living. It uses smart communication technologies built on Information and Communications Technology, the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Big Data to create modern transportation, smart water and energy systems, surveillance, and security services. Although astonishing technologies already exist to achieve this, their adoption, their long-term “effectiveness” in an urban context, depends on a complex problem-solving process. This poses a challenge for smart city programme managers and stakeholders from various backgrounds. Because every city is unique in terms of historical, social and political contexts, and the number of smart solutions available is vast, a wide assortment of stakeholders across multiple organisations ultimately participate in the process of introducing and implementing them. These include technology companies, civil engineers, area manager researchers, and community groups, to name a few. These stakeholders then have to overcome difficulties arising from conflicting perceptions of success and failure, diversity of knowledge, the differences in their respective work processes, and organisational cultures to find effective ways to share knowledge across silos. My doctoral research focuses on those managerial activities that create knowledge sharing opportunities across boundaries in such a varied environment.

"As a student from abroad, I find that the supportive, kind, and open atmosphere that surrounds researchers here has been invaluable for my personal and professional growth."

Given the nature of my study, I am taking an engaged research approach in my work. This means that throughout the project, we are constantly engaging with the community and sharing and discussing our findings. Our overall aim is to address the issues they face and help them effectively improve the quality of life for people. It has been rewarding to be part of conversations with city councils across Ireland and I have enjoyed taking part in the URBACT Smart Impact programme to share and develop new methods for smart city planning. In the future, I hope to continue supporting communities and local authorities, to help them develop ways to effectively collaborate and create smart, sustainable solutions.

Since I look at technology adoption from a business perspective, it has been very exciting to be a part of the Lero community and interact with colleagues from diverse backgrounds. One of my favourite moments of the year are the annual poster presentations, where we get to come together from all over Ireland, present our work, meet other researchers, and see what everyone is working on. It is always a great opportunity to talk about our research experiences, our challenges, and share how things are going. I have benefited in a lot of ways from being a Lero researcher, but as a student from abroad, I find that the supportive, kind, and open atmosphere that surrounds researchers here has been invaluable for my personal and professional growth.