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Peer-Review Record

Maladaptive Planning and the Pro-Innovation Bias: Considering the Case of Automated Vehicles

Urban Sci. 2020, 4(3), 41;
Reviewer 1: Anonymous
Reviewer 2: Anonymous
Reviewer 3: Anonymous
Reviewer 4: Anonymous
Urban Sci. 2020, 4(3), 41;
Received: 4 August 2020 / Revised: 26 August 2020 / Accepted: 27 August 2020 / Published: 1 September 2020

Round 1

Reviewer 1 Report

The paper aims at discussing the topic of innovative approach in urban planning practice. It presents a significant example of a maladaptive innovation, related to transport system: the potential introduction of automated vehicles in private car markets . The topic is well presented and also original, since scientific literature is rich of products on the topic but the point of view discussed in this paper is very interesting.

I suggest few minor revisions as follows. 


It is not immediately clear the aim of the paper, which is reported in the last sentence of the abstract. I would suggest to highlight the scope of the product and hence, briefly introduce the main results of the study.

Paragraphs 2,3 and 4

I would suggest the introduction of few lines to better explain how the knowledge of the main topics was built up (systematic review, professional experience?).

Author Response

Please see notes attached

Author Response File: Author Response.pdf


Reviewer 2 Report

The article entitled Maladaptive urban planning and the pro-innovation bias: Considering the case of automated vehicles deals with the current challenges of not only urban or transport planning but also the fundamental relationship of nowadays society with innovations. In particular, the article is highlighting the possible danger, which might be caused by the straightforward implementation of innovations without deeply exploring other alternatives or outlining possible consequences. Important is, that authors of the paper have decided to not devote all focus to the above-mentioned problematics, but are also providing concrete policy recommendations.

However, the quality of the paper would improve if the authors would embed also the contemporary transport debate on sustainable transport which has been met with a lot of critique for its political embedding and blindness to the socially contested nature of the mobility (e.g. Gossling and Cohen 2014; Reigner and Brenac, 2019; Beaten, 2000 etc.) and which is also to certain extent centre point of new technological innovations.

Author Response

Please see notes attached

Author Response File: Author Response.pdf


Reviewer 3 Report

When the authors said "Paradoxically, and even though planned obsolescence is 126 essentially unethical and against the public interest, contemporary societies became very receptive to 127 so-called innovative technologies that were designed" I highly recommend to cite these papers as they investigate the obsolescence as a previous step in for undertaking urban regeneration processes. For the reader, it can be very interesting to find out how obsolescence leads to regeneration.

Camerin, F. e Álvarez Mora, A. (2019). Regenerating Bilbao: From ‘productive industries’ to ‘productive services’. Territorio, 89, 145-154

Camerin, F. (2019). From Ribera Plan to Diagonal Mar, passing through 1992 vila Olímpica. How urban renewal took place as urban regeneration in Poblenou district. Land Use Policy, 89, 104226.

Also, I recommend taking into consideration that the books:

Stein, S. (2019). Capital City. Gentrification and the real estate state and Atkinson, R. (2020). Alpha City. How London Was Captured by the Super-Rich both published by Verso can be intended as two analysis based on which the paper's authors can say that innovation in planning usually is lead by the real estate-financial capital to achieve their interests in the frame of the evolution of the capitalist city-making process 

Cody Jeff, Siravo Francesco (eds.), Historic Cities: Issues in Urban Conservation, The Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles, 2019 is another book I find interesting to expand the knowledge a reader can acquire by reading the text as it shows that innovation in historic cities are important but are strictly connected to the capitalist mode of production.

It is interesting how the authors approach innovation in planning, but I feel a lack of reference to urban planning in paragraph 2. So please add some more text on the application of the innovation for urban regeneration in the logic of capital. I reckon that innovation can be seen in the making of obsolescence towards urban regeneration of the post-Fordist city in the logic of capital. In this sense, transport will be better connected to urban planning and its innovation.

Author Response

Please see notes attached

Author Response File: Author Response.pdf


Reviewer 4 Report

Thank you for dealing with such a relevant issue (in my understanding: discussing "maladaptive" and biases of innovation-led planning in the mobility field focusing AVs), which has certainly an interest both for the academic and the policy makers community.

However, in my view, the paper requires some revisions.

In its current form, I find it too lengthy and I cannot clearly see where the research question is clearly stated and how the paper is structured in order to answer to this.

In the introduction I see a too aggressive approach againist innovation and innovation policy. This contents places the authors in an ideological perspective thorough the discussion. Example: sentences in lines "38-40" are statements way too banal and they don't add much to the debate/discussion.

Successfull approaches in planning innovation (related to mobility) should be reported and somehow discussed in the introduction, I've found this reference very helpful and maybe should be mentioned also because is close to your topics: "Vecchio, G., & Tricarico, L. (2019). “May the Force move you”: Roles and actors of information sharing devices in urban mobility. cities, 88, 261-268."

"Maladaptive planning" brief definition should be prioritized because if you place this uncommon concept in the tile you have to exactly explain what is it sooner, also discussing related literature. Not only in line 234 and not only applied to this case. Otherwise it seems a judgmental use of a concept and not operational.

The following sentence "AVs clearly make part of a surveillance strategy promoted by Big Tech firms. This  strategy is aimed at using not only the internet, but the (smart) city as a whole, as a comprehensive and integrated space of data collection, behaviour prediction and control, and very deep commodification of human emotion, cognition, and behaviour"  is way too poor in terms of problematization. Are you sure you have the data to say that AVs are part of a survelillance strategy? the way in which you put this discussion is idealogical and "conspirational". Strong statements like these should be re-written and/or canceled.

Senteces like "making a pro-innovation bias strongly enforced by Big Tech, what we are witnessing is an increasing  number of cities preparing to welcome AVs in their streets [see, for example, 55] without making a serious effort to determine the benefits and costs of such an innovation". Are we sure we don't have any assessment on this experiences and scenarios?

I'm not saying that you've necessrly agree with the "position" of this article but at least have a look and discuss some "more optimistic" positions:

Gavanas, N. (2019). Autonomous Road Vehicles: Challenges for Urban Planning in European Cities. Urban Science, 3(2), 61.

Generally speaking, the text is understandable but I have found several typos – I would advise you to ask a native speaker to check the language and to attentively read the text before resubmitting the paper. Not sure about the use of personal form such as "we believe that" Once these revisions have been implemented, the abstract will also need to be updated in order to make very clear, from the beginning, what problem the author wants to address and how the paper contributes to the existing literature with new and relevant knowledge. Please double check the list of references (I have found some inconsistencies).

Author Response

Please see notes attached

Author Response File: Author Response.pdf


Round 2

Reviewer 4 Report

The revision is now complete as the paper. Thank you for your commitment. Due to your hard work in better explaining your position I think that this paper is now a very interesting and original contribution.

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