(The futuristic “Emerald City” in the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz“. The “wizard” who controls the city is a fraud who uses theatrical technology to disguise his lack of real power.)
(I was recently asked to give evidence to the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development during the development of their report on Smart Cities and Infrastructure. This article is based on my presentation, which you can find here).
The idea of a “Smart City” (or town, or region, or community) is 20 years old now; but despite some high profile projects and a lot of attention, it has so far achieved relatively little.
The goal of a Smart City is to invest in technology in order to create economic, social and environmental improvements. That is an economic and political challenge, not a technology trend; and it is an imperative challenge because of the nature…
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(William Robinson Leigh’s 1908 painting “Visionary City” envisaged future cities constructed from mile-long buildings of hundreds of storeys connected by gas-lit skyways for trams, pedestrians and horse-drawn carriages. A century later we’re starting to realise not only that developments in transport and power technology have eclipsed Leigh’s vision, but that we don’t want to live in cities constructed from buildings on this scale.)
The Smart City refuses to go away
In 2013 Adam Greenfield wrote “Against the Smart City” in criticism of the large-scale corporate- and government-led projects in cities such as Masdar, Songdo and Rio that had begun to co-opt the original idea of “Smart Communities” and citizens, given a more powerful voice in their own governance by Internet communication, into what he saw – and what some still see – as a “top-down” approach to infrastructure and services divorced from the interest of ordinary…
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