Everywhere we turn these days, cities are announcing themselves as smart cities. City authorities and businesses are embedding computing, sensing, and communications capabilities across the urban landscape and using big data to guide decision making. City governments, businesses and citizens are being connected by ubiquitous computing, enabling access to real-time data about people, places and objects. The promise of the smart city is tantalising: improved efficiency, reduced congestion, greater resilience, citizen empowerment and economic opportunity, and more. But as the technological optimism of a smart city grows, critical social scientists have begun to identify pitfalls. For instance, does the smart city enhance or negate social justice? What about digital inclusion, or the influence of technology corporations on city governance? Smart cities have both progressive and regressive potential. The question is, what are these potentials and how can we learn from them to make future cities smarter and inclusive for everyone?
Pauline McGuirk is Professor of Human Geography at the UOW School of Geography and Sustainable Communities, Faculty of Social Sciences. Her research focuses on urban political geography, particularly through critical studies of urban governance, its changing geographies, practices and politics, and the differential implications for urban places, communities and power.
Connect with Prof. McGuirk on Twitter: @PaulineMcGuirk