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“Smart cities using data captured by the Internet of Things (IoT) devices and processed with artificial intelligence (AI) are all the rage today among cities. Promoters tout the benefits these data-driven utopias, but as an urban planner, I tend to be sceptical of marketing hype. In the past, urban innovations painted visions that masked their real intentions and results. Urban renewal was sold as “garden cities,” but became black removal. Redevelopment during the 1980s eliminated small businesses and poor residents to make way for corporate offices, stadiums, and convention centers, leaving “ghost cities” with officials wondering why shoppers left for suburban malls. The race to attract “the creative class” has resulted in skyrocketing housing prices, gentrification, income inequalities and homelessness. As planners know, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.” Smart cities are typically pitched as ways to make cities safer, healthier and wealthier, but is it true? What are their real impacts?
Smart Cities 1.0: The Inferno of Surveillance, Ticketing and Automated Pollution
Today’s smart cities were born from tragedy. After the 9/11 attacks, New York City and other cities installed 24×7 surveillance cameras and AI to protect public spaces through public-private partnerships (PPP) driven by cities and corporations. Cities routinely gather huge amounts of data in a top-down fashion without any public review. In China, social profiling is used to monitor political and social behavior as a way to control the right to travel, education and housing. In Toronto, Google touts its Sidewalk Lab as a way to revitalize the waterfront, but citizens are divided over growing concerns about the lack of data privacy and transparency.”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
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