I’ve been getting back up to speed on what’s going on around the notion of so-called smart cities, ie. connected urban environments, and their impact on technology, citizens, governance and responsiveness to citizens’ needs.
There are many ways to look at the smart city concept. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll stipulate that they fall into broadly two categories, which I’m going to overstate to make a point (so they’re cranked up to 11 here):
- Technology vendors: Smart city technology (sensors networks, big data, smart grid) leads to higher efficiency, energy and cost savings, and better informed local governments, and strengthen the local economy.
Citizens rights/governance activists: Smart cities are a dystopian control and surveillance structure, unless technology and data are owned by the citizens, decentralized, and accountability and transparency are guaranteed.