debate Smart City

“Smart city. Technology at the service of resourceful communities”

The title understanding of a smart city is not at all obvious. It is rather a postulate of urban planners, architects or social researchers, such as Richard Sennett, Reinier de Graaf, Saskia Sassen or Adam Greenfield (to mention just the best known ones), who are anxiously watching the most widespread understanding of smart cities – where technology seems to be an end in itself, and the consequences of fetishisation of its effectiveness in solving the problems of modern cities remain too rarely recognised.

The critics of the technophilic approach to smart cities point to the risks associated with, among others:

  • the progress of privatisation of public services;
  • the dysfunctionality of designed solutions over a short period (the effect of a simplified model of a city and social problems underlying these solutions);
  • increased supervision and lack of control over the multitude of data collected about residents by sensors scattered throughout the city; the client’s attitude replacing citizens’ civic ideas (which poses a threat to democracy already at risk);
  • lowering the level of social competence and weakening ties; delegating responsibility for creating new utopias to corporations.

Therefore, we would have to deal with a somewhat paradoxical phenomenon – instead of raising the so-called resistance of cities to possible tensions and crises (economic, climatic and social), new urban technologies would rather lower it.

Of course, these and similar voices do not mean a complete rejection of the possibilities offered by technological progress but rather a change in the frame of thinking about urban innovations which may be the result. Ben Green, the author of the book with a telling title The smart (enough) city, postulates a more holistic view in which technology, instead of a promise of relief, becomes a tool in the hands of those in power and urban communities again.

Host: Maciej Frąckowiak, Phd