This is a three year international research collaboration between University of Neuchâtel and King’s College London on Indian and South African smart cities. Smart cities as a proposed solution to efficient urban governance has gained traction since 2000 because of the deep involvement of global IT companies, the support of funding programmes from EU, DfID and USAid and the interest of national governments and urban municipalities. As a consequence, retrofitted smart city ‘packages’ or fully-fledged smart ‘city in a box’ are increasingly making their way into national agendas in the global south. Through a comparative study of smart cities in India and South Africa, this project will research globally circulating urban development narratives around ICT and data-driven urbanism, its ‘mutations’ in different urban contexts and ‘urban hacking’ at the scale of everyday life. The outcomes of the project will thus move beyond a critical stance to provide prosaic visions of smart urbanism that are alternative, empowering and knowledge intensive.