” A really ‘Smart City’ would probably build zones of some kind for us: the maximum-ineffeciency anti-smart bohemias.” – Bruce Sterling
In this lecture we looked into the ‘Smart City’ and how technology is becoming the forefront of the designs and developments to the new and future city plans.
The Internet has massively assisted the pace of technology increase since it was created in 1969. At present day, across the world now more and more people and companies rely on the internet to be able to sustain a living. It is often a misconception that the internet is this untouchable and nonphysical object that ‘just’ works but in fact has a large physical presence which is needed to connect countries (online) all around the world.
This map shows the different internet routes that have physical cables travelling around the world, connecting the world together. It is interesting to see where there is more dense Internet activity seems to relate with wealthy and powerful countries showing their demand on needing it for their infrastructure. You can see clearly how well both the East and West coasts of North America are linked up compared to Africa which has a much larger population.
This is another graph which shows the internet usage used across the world over a 24 hour period. As you can see it it relates the other graph showing Europe and North America having the highest demand followed by Eastern Asia and South america. With the same point as before, Africa has nowhere near the same amount even though having a much larger population.
Another topic discussed was how the top electronic companies across the world are now planning and developing their own ‘Smart City’ plans. These companies Include IBM, Siemens and Cisco.
The demand of sustainable living as our world population grows has seen these large companies take their own approach at creating sustainable environments by creating their own cities. Songdo, South Korea, created by Cisco is a new ‘Smart City’ designed to be an International Business District that is eco-friendly with the use of high technology to become a sustainable city for the future. The project cost $35 billion to create.
Another new ‘Smart City’ is Masdar City, created by Masdar and located just out of the City Abu Dhabi it is designed to rely only on solar energy and other renewable energy resources. The city was designed by the British archietect firm Foster and Partners with the intention of becoming a hub for ‘Cleantech’ companies. Siemens have built one of their regional headquarters there. The ‘LEED Platinum’ building, which is the most energy efficient building in Abu Dhabi. It was designed with the intentions of using 45 percent less energy and 50 percent less water than typical office buildings.
All these future designs and proposals seem to look like the ideal solution to our to date issues in cities but that isn’t necessarily the case. These cities are taking on the personality of our current cities of a throw-away society and instead of coming up with designs and ideas to better our current cities, new ones are being built. I see this as avoiding the problem and not finding a solution but an alternative, and the alternative needs to be challenged to see if it is better.
Adam Greenfield, an American writer and urbanist challenged these companies by exploring their statements of what a ‘Smart City’ is and what their new smart cities aim to offer.
IBM’s statement to what they think a Smart City is:
“Technology that synchronises and analyses efforts among sectors and agencies as they happen, giving decision makers consolidated information that helps them anticipate problems [and] manage growth and development in a sustainable way that minimises disruptions and helps increase prosperity for everyone.”
Greenfield deciphers the text and shows how these large companies like IBM, Siemens and Cisco all focus on collecting ‘BIG DATA’ to then form and improve well being, but to who? These companies seem to say this should assist sectors, agencies and decision makers etc. This to me sounds like giving this power to the elite.
In the reading What’s so smart about the Smart Citizen? – Mark Shepard & Antonina Simeti the same topic is covered showing that these ‘Smart Cities’ are designed ‘Top-down and centralising’ which doesn’t have the citizens at the forefront. I personally find this a scary idea because as a society we rely on technology more and more. Giving the control and power to a higher authority to all means the opportunity to being controlled becomes more of an option.
Alternative ideas have also been approached. Having ‘Smart Cities’ that are ‘Bottom-up’ relying on the citizens role to input and communicate to adapt things for the better. Using technology to participate in reporting problems and conditions to let others be aware.
A good example of this is the London underground update services. It is a live feed where TFL and citizens report in issues so that it can be publicly communicated to let others aware of the different lines status. This then gives the opportunity for others to adapt their route of commuting if needed to still be able to be on time.