The smart city movement today is a very crowded field, and therefore its protagonists are identifying a multiplicity of disasters which they can avert. The effects of climate change, an ageing population and infrastructure, water and energy provision are all presented as problems for which smart cities have an answer. Apocalyptic scenarios are managed and mitigated by sensor-based solutions. Smart cities rhetoric relies on slogans – ‘fix leaky pipes, save millions’. Everything saves millions, no matter how negligible the problem... If the city is increasingly a comprehensive surveillance system, the house is turning into an automated, responsive cell. Soon a Faraday Cage will be a necessary component of any home – a safe room in which to retreat from digital sensing.
The car is a key element in the smart city. It is now being equipped with increasingly complex monitoring devices. On the one hand, the devices improve the driver’s behavior, but on the other hand they create a high degree of surveillance. I’m not convinced that the public will welcome this degree of monitoring. I prefer the car not to be a courtroom.
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