Richard Tomlinson is a Professorial Fellow in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, University of Melbourne and Visiting Professor in the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Before going to Australia in 2009 he served as an urban policy consultant in Southern Africa and as an academic in South Africa and the USA. His clients included the post-apartheid South African government, The World Bank, USAID, UN HABITAT, NGOs and also the private sector. As an academic he has served as a Visiting Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand and at Columbia University, as a Visiting Scholar at MIT and a Guest Scholar at the Brookings Institution. His most recent research and publications concern metropolitan governance, primarily in Australia; global urban policy processes; the effects of the Web on urban knowledge exchange; smart cities; and slum upgrading in Mumbai and Cape Town.

Project Summary

The research seeks to document the evolution of knowledge of metropolitan governance and its curation by multi-institutional networks whose effect is to narrow conceptions of the best metropolitan policies. The evolution is traced from the 1990s, the dissolution of the Soviet Union that removed the brakes on a neoclassical policy framework, and the invention of the World Wide Web that considerably enabled institutional networking and knowledge management. By curation is meant the preparation of ‘roadmaps’ that explain an issue and how it might be addressed. The research focus is on big data and smart cities and e.g. the launch of the iPhone, unstructured big data and Amazon’s EC2 cloud computing platform. The institutional networks involved include international organisations e.g. World Bank, European Union, cities e.g. Barcelona, New York, corporations e.g. IBM, KPMG, transnational municipal networks and philanthropies, e.g. C40, UCLG, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and universities e.g. Harvard’s Kennedy and Business Schools.

Major Publications

  • Tomlinson R. and M. Spiller (Eds.) 2018. Australia’s Metropolitan Imperative: An Agenda for Governance Reform, Melbourne: CSIRO Publishing.
  • Tomlinson R., with A. Rizvi, R. Salinas, S. Garry, J. Pehr and F. Rodriguez. 2010. ‘The influence of Google on urban policy in developing countries’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. 34, 1, pp. 174-189.
  • Tomlinson R. 2002. ‘International best practice, enabling frameworks and the policy process: a South African case study’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 26, 2, pp. 377 – 388.