How much does our spatial data tell the city about us, and how is that likely to change in the next decade? This was the central question of the recently-finished, one-year Maps4Society research project From Data Subjects to Data Producers, conducted at the University of Amsterdam.The project studied the use and governance of spatial data in Amsterdam’s smart city projects and focused on resident groups normally not included and accounted for in Smart City research projects. You can download the report of their research here: Customers, users or citizens?
The city of Amsterdam has long been known for its canals, cafés, and bicycling culture. In recent years, though, it’s also become known as a model for what it takes to become a “smart city,” utilizing information technology to improve city services. In April 2016, Amsterdam won Europe’s Capital of Innovation award by the European Commission. This €950,000 prize will help the city scale up innovation efforts to improve the way people live and businesses work. A new case study by MIT Sloan Management Review looks at the steps Amsterdam has taken since 2009 to become a smart city innovator and the insights the city’s experience presents into the complexities facing city managers. The case study is titled “Data-Driven City Management.”
“Smart cities” grew out of the realization that North American models of suburban development and central business district decline needed to be challenged with new paradigms. This movement began in the 1990s with ideas centered on smart growth and new urbanism. While initially restricted to small, wealthy cities, the ideas that emerged during this period combined with a vertiginous growth in information technologies to create software-driven urban managerial tools for major cities. The increasing “technologization” of urban systems that automatically replicate spatial dynamics has been on the agenda of urban scholars for some time. However, the relatively new paradigms of “whole system” implementation in large urban centers has not been the subject of robust critical engagement. The aim of this paper is to examine critically the implementation and functioning of two “smart cities” systems in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as part of the city's broader preparations for hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.
Imagining tomorrow’s life implies, to a large degree, imagining the kind of cities we will inhabit in the future. In this framework, the smart city is actually a popular vision in discourses on urban development. This paper explores alternative ways in which citizens are positioned within different imaginaries of the smart city. The premise is that most mainstream discourses implicitly assume that smart city projects will empower and improve the lives of citizens. However, their role is often ambiguous. While some visions of the smart city are characterised by the absence of citizen’s voices, others are populated by active citizens operating as urban sensors. Furthermore there are fearful visions of a future in which citizens will be subjugated by technologies that will hamper their freedom. This paper analyses the role of citizens in four alternative smart city imaginaries. The thesis proposed is that all four imaginaries are characterised by citizens playing a subaltern role, and hence the smart city is a relatively poor concept if intended as a model of the urban life of the future.
It's easy to get excited about smart city technology – but we need to think through the human consequences.T
he notion of the “smart city” has been gaining attention around the world. Also called the “wired”, “networked” or “ubiquitous” city, the “smart city” is the latest in a long line of catch-phrases, referring to the development of technology-based urban systems for driving efficient city management and economic growth.
These can be anything from city-wide public wifi systems to the provision of smart water meters in individual homes. Any feature which uses information and communication technologies to make a city more efficient or more accessible, is said to come under the umbrella of the “smart city”.
Most technologists and engineers are busy investigating how to build smart cities, and what features to give them. But it’s also important to ask who gets to live in them, and what it means to be a citizen of a smart city. At this year’s annual meeting of the UN’s Commission for Science and Technology for Development, I set out to explore these big issues in more depth.
Here are three of the toughest challenges facing those involved with smart cities today – and some suggestions about how to overcome them....
This report tells the stories of cities around the world - from Beijing to Amsterdam, and from London to Jakarta - that are addressing urban challenges by using digital technologies to engage and enable citizens.
Many ‘top down’ smart city ideas have failed to deliver on their promise, combining high costs and low returns.
‘Collaborative technologies’ offer cities another way to make smarter use of resources, smarter ways of collecting data and smarter ways to make decisions.
Collaborative technologies can also help citizens themselves shape the future of their cities.
We have created five recommendations for city government who want to make their cities smarter....
Smart cities are slow and wildly expensive to design. Sidewalk Labs wants to change that.
When Alphabet announced it would get into the business of urbanism—with the creation of a spinoff company called Sidewalk Labs—it was easy to imagine the company developing cities much like it develops technology products. But a year after its creation, Sidewalk Labs is proving more nuanced in its approach to urbanism.
Sure, the lab is responsible for the most ambitious digital infrastructure project New York City has seen in decades. But more technology isn’t always the right solution. "Frankly, our view is that a lot of what’s been less effective in some of the conversations around smart cities is that a lot of those conversations have been led by technology vendors who assume the answer is always ‘more technology,’" says COO Anand Babu.
Today, Sidewalk is announcing a partnership designed to change that. The company wants to help cities develop more thoughtful policy about technology, making it more affordable and more efficient, through a partnership with Transportation For America, a DC-based policy nonprofit that has worked with cities all over the country to implement better transportation policies on the local level. ...
As urban centers expand their reliance on automated sensors and algorithms, they increase risks of data security breaches, vulnerabilities to invasions of privacy and concerns about software reliability.
Ebène Cybercity was built 15 years ago to create a modern working environment for Mauritians and bring a hi-tech hub to this island nation. So does it offer a roadmap for Africa - or a warning of problems ahead?
Researchers at MIT and Oxford University have shown that the location stamps on just a handful of Twitter posts — as few as eight over the course of a single day — can be enough to disclose the addresses of the poster’s home and workplace to a relatively low-tech snooper. The tweets themselves might be otherwise innocuous — links to funny videos, say, or comments on the news. The location information comes from geographic coordinates automatically associated with the tweets. Twitter’s location-reporting service is off by default, but many Twitter users choose to activate it. The new study is part of a more general project at MIT’s Internet Policy Research Initiative to help raise awareness about just how much privacy people may be giving up when they use social media. ...
In the land rush to digitize the world, the home is the new frontier. Over the past few years, practically every household item within reach has been technologically upgraded and rendered “smart”: toothbrushes, cutlery, baby monitors, refrigerators, thermostats, slow cookers, sprinkler systems, sex toys, even the locks in doors. Before they achieved enlightenment, they could perform only their rote, mechanical duties; now they can do so while connected to the internet. In the case of the telephone, this has been nothing short of revolutionary, but no other “smart” object has managed to replicate its success. ...
“Smart” has been slapped onto everything from cups (that analyze what you’re drinking) to surfboards (that let you check your text messages between waves) to clothing (that tracks calorie expenditure). The word is flattering to both the objects and their users, even as it threatens to become a hazy banality. ...
When applied to the latest consumer gadgets, “smart” performs a similar sleight of hand; what is presented as an upgrade is actually a stealthy euphemism for “surveillance.” While a “smart” lighting system promises to adapt to an owner’s preferences or help the environment by lowering electricity bills, what it also does is provide a company a permanent foothold in a person’s home from which he can be monitored. That smart-lighting company knows when the owner of its product comes home, when he goes, when he dims the lights for a date and when he leaves them on. The intelligence given to these devices really serves twin purposes: information collection and control. Smart devices are constantly collecting information, tracking user habits, trying to anticipate and shape their owners’ behaviors and reporting back to the corporate mother ship. ...
An understanding of what Smart Cities and their infrastructure are, key challenges in the context of a ‘Smart City’ and the role of STI.
During the 18th annual session of the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD), Smart Cities and Infrastructure, was selected as one of the priority themes for the 2015-16 period. The objective of this paper, prepared by the UNCTAD secretariat, is to illustrate the key role of STI, including ICT, in the development of a smart city and its infrastructure. The paper provides (1) an understanding of what a ‘Smart City’ is, (2) what constitutes its infrastructure, (3) what the key challenges in the context of a ‘Smart City’, especially in developing countries are and (4) the role of science, technology and innovation (STI) in addressing these challenges. ...
Smart Lights In Stores Can Pinpoint Shoppers to Within 8 Inches For Messaging
Indoor beaconing is going wall to wall. Or more accurately, it’s going from ceiling to floor, as store lighting joins the Internet of Things. The ultimate effect is that the location of in-store shoppers can be very precisely identified and retailers or marketers can then deliver highly targeted, location-based offers, on the spot.
GPS has been pretty good at identifying general location and when combined with Wi-Fi and beacons, the combo can paint a pretty good picture of proximity of a person. But now other location technology, along with beacons, is being built into light bulbs.
When installed at retailers, these smart lights can locate a shopper at a precision of 8 to 12 inches and then promotions and other messages can be triggered based on the location. ...
Hackers already love them, which means spies will, too.
It’s no surprise that the U.S. National Security Agency and presumably other spy agencies around the world are investigating how they might take advantage of the new generation of Internet-connected devices in homes and offices for spying purposes....
This article examines IBM’s ‘Smarter Education’ program, part of its wider ‘Smarter Cities’ agenda, focusing specifically on its learning analytics applications (based on machine learning algorithms) and cognitive computing developments for education (which take inspiration from neuroscience for the design of brain-like neural networks algorithms and neurocomputational devices). The article conceptualizes the relationship between learning algorithms, neuroscience, and the new learning spaces of the city by combining the notion of programmable ‘code/space’ with ideas about the ‘social life of the brain’ to suggest that new kinds of ‘brain/code/spaces’ are being developed where the environment itself is imagined to possess brain-like functions of learning and ‘human qualities’ of cognition performed by algorithmic processes. IBM’s ambitions for education constitute a sociotechnical imaginary of a ‘cognitive classroom’ where the practices associated with data analytics and cognitive computing in the smart city are being translated into the neuropedagogic brain/code/spaces of the school, with significant consequences for how learners are to be addressed and acted upon. The IBM imaginary of Smarter Education is one significant instantiation of emerging smart cities that are to be governed by neurocomputational processes modelled on neuroscientific insights into the brain’s plasticity for learning, and part of a ‘neurofuture’ in-the-making where nonconscious algorithmic ‘computing brains’ embedded in urban space are intended to interact with human cognition and brain functioning.
Over the past years, the notion of ‘smart city’ has become firmly entrenched in a variety of domains, including urban planning, policymaking, and science and technology studies, to name a few. Many of those working on smart cities stress the highly convoluted nature of the adjective ‘smart’, which contains a plurality of more and less commensurable perspectives and values. The ‘smart city’ point is a two-sided phenomenon that could bring about potential dangers as well as benefits. How can discussions on urban governance gain more traction on the notion of ‘smart’ and be aligned with developments taking place on the cusp of the world-wide smart city?
In an age of data-driven urban science, we need to remember how Jane Jacobs gave voice to the multiple languages, meanings, experiences and knowledge systems of a vibrant city. ...
While the rise of big data and smart cities opens up possibilities for cities that were previously unthinkable, we should also be wary of the limitations.
Jacobs wasn’t simply claiming that cities should be understood as complex systems. At a perhaps deeper level, Jacobs was arguing against visions of the city over-determined by the technologies that produce them: for LeCorbusier, as for Moses, the view of the city enabled by the innovation of flight helped give rise to new urban utopias like the Radiant City. ...
Annoyed with cars cutting through their neighborhoods, Waze impostors report made-up wrecks and speed traps in attempts to subvert the popular traffic app.
When the traffic on Timothy Connor’s quiet Maryland street suddenly jumped by several hundred cars an hour, he knew who was partly to blame: the disembodied female voice he could hear through the occasional open window saying, “Continue on Elm Avenue . . . .”
The marked detour around a months-long road repair was several blocks away. But plenty of drivers were finding a shortcut past Connor’s Takoma Park house, slaloming around dog walkers and curbside basketball hoops, thanks to Waze and other navigation apps. “I could see them looking down at their phones,” said Connor, a water engineer at a federal agency. “We had traffic jams, people were honking. It was pretty harrowing.”
And so Connor borrowed a tactic he read about from the car wars of Southern California and other traffic-weary regions: He became a Waze impostor. Every rush hour, he went on the Google-owned social-media app and posted false reports of a wreck, speed trap or other blockage on his street, hoping to deflect some of the flow. ...
Here are Vox Urban's top 5 smart cities in the UK - the champions in IoT, smart city technologies, urban connectivity and efficiency.
Harnessing Big Data and smart city technologies to manage and control our ever-growing cities is becoming an urgent issue. Cities are rapidly turning into extremely complex multi-level formations. Their running costs are going up while the efficiency is creeping down. At the same time we – urban residents – have higher and higher expectations of the services and the quality of urban life. Smart city technologies offer great solutions for cities to become successful and efficient urban environments. Let’s look at how UK’s cities have taken up the challenge to deploy IoT, Big Data, and become smart....
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