This commentary characterises and critiques research on smart cities. I argue that much of the writing and rhetoric about smart cities seeks to appear non-ideological, commonsensical and pragmatic. More critically orientated scholarship, while making vital conceptual and political interventions, presently has four shortcomings that inhibit making sense of and refashioning the smart city agenda: the lack of detailed genealogies of the concept and initiatives, the use of canonical examples and one-size fits all narratives, an absence of in-depth empirical case studies of specific smart city initiatives and comparative research that contrasts smart city developments in different locales and weak collaborative engagement with various stakeholders. These shortcomings are elaborated, accompanied with suggestions for addressing them.

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