This article is part of 20in20, a series of 20 blog posts in 20 days to kick off the blogging year 2020. This is 20in20:02.
If you’ve followed this blog or my work at all, you’ll know that I’ve been doing a fair bit of work around Smart Cities and what they mean from a citizens and rights perspective, and how you can analyze Smart City projects through a lens of responsible technology (which of course has also been the main mission of our non-profit org, ThingsCon).
For years, I’ve argued that we need to not use tech goggles to look at how we can and should connect public space but rather a rights-based perspective. It’s not about what we can do but what we should do, after all.
But while I’m convinced that’s the right approach, it’s been non-trivial to figure out what to base the argument on: What’s the most appropriate foundation to build a “Smart City Rights” perspective on?
A recent conversation led me to sketch out this rough outline which I believe points in the right direction:
- The UN Human Rights principles are a rock-solid base line, especially the way they are referenced in the SDGs.
- The UNDP’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) allow a more holistic perspective, also taking into account a climate perspective.
- And finally, the Cities Coalition for Digital Rights declaration offers a state-of-the-art digital rights perspective specifically for Smart Cities.
There are adjacent initiatives and frameworks that can complement and flank anything based on these three (like the Vision for a Shared Digital Europe and its commons-focused approach), and of course this also goes well with the EU’s Horizon 2020 City Mission for Climate-neutral and smart cities. So this is something I’m confident can be fleshed out into something solid.
Are there any other key documents I’m missing that absolutely should be incorporated here?
Definitely. I have come to see the SDGs as a macroscope for a myriad of practical challenges ( https://www.zylstra.org/blog/2020/01/human-rights-and-sustainable-development-goals-underpinning-responsible-tech-and-agency/ )