“While increasing the efficiency of existing transportation, trash collection, energy, and other systems is the oft-stated [Smart Cities] Holy Grail, the logic underlying such systems remains fundamentally unquestioned. Should cities be seeking more efficient trash collection or to eliminate waste as a concept? Should cities invest in technologies to improve traffic volume efficiencies or in ways to bring production, consumption, and residential life into closer proximity? Absent reassessment of the roots of these issues, [Smart Cities] ironically bring a conservative rather than innovative approach to urban management.”
Quote from Professor Robert Young “From Smart Cities to Wise Cities,”
Interesting critique if smart city strategy.
Smart Cities may merely “help good cities do dumb things faster.” Young instead advocates for “Wise Cities,” which are informed by a variety of disciplines and historical precedents to foster a high functioning, low-maintenance urban form that is accessible to all segments of the population.
Young and Greenfield bring up a laundry list of other arguments against Smart Cities, each of which could stand alone as reason to be skeptical. For instance, there is the issue of what Greenfield describes as the system’s “brittleness.” If we invest billions in imbedded “smart” hardware across the urban landscape, what happens when that hardware is broken, hacked, outdated or no longer affordable to service? Or, when it comes to the jobs economy, where will all the service industry workers go when their jobs are taken over by self-driving cars, self-serving restaurants, and self-cleaning buildings? And finally, thinking globally, how will poor cities in developing countries keep pace with the rich techno-utopias of the West if they cannot afford Smart City technology?