- WIRED, 04.23.14
Our technology-first approach has failed the city of the future. So-called “smart cities,” powered by technology, carry the promise of responding to the great pressures of our time, such as urban population growth, climate instability, and fiscal uncertainty. But by focusing on the cutting-edge technologies themselves and relying on private companies to move forward, we have lost sight of what we even want our cities to achieve with all that tech.
To date, smart city conversations mostly trade in optimism, focusing on images of cities without congestion and smart energy meters on every building. Global publications like this one devote space to specific solutions, while television commercials offer a visual taste of how our cities could look in the years ahead. Marketers fuel the fire by estimating a multi-trillion dollar market within a decade.
At what point do we prioritize the municipality–the actual governance of the city–to make great plans?
To help push the industry forward and achieve those trillion dollar market projections, we need to spend as much time and energy creating policy blueprints as we’ve spent researching and marketing new technologies. Smart policies must match smart technologies.
KEY POINTS ONLY::
1. Smart Cities Must Craft an Economic Vision That Includes a Specific Role for Technology
2. Smart Cities Must Use Technology to Promote a Healthy Economy
3. Smart Cities Must Include an Empowered Municipal Technology Executive
4. Smart Cities Must Balance Project Size and Appetite for Risk
5. Smart City Executives Need Stronger Networks and Improved Communication Tools
ROBERT STEELE: I would add only three things: 1) autonomous Internet that cannot be shut down or censored — beyond Freedom Box and Freedom Tower, the roadmap is at P2P Foundation; 2) Open Source Everything — see The Open Source Everything Manifestor: Transparency, Truth, & Trust (North Atlantic Books, 2012), the bottom line is that only open source is affordable, inter-operable, and scalable, until IBM gets that their good ideas are actually toxic; and 3) true cost economic information on every product, service, and behavior available at point of sale via bar code and handheld interface. I coined the phrase Smart Nation in 1995 in my article Creating a Smart Nation: Strategy, Policy, Intelligence, and Information for Government Information Quarterly, if I had to do it over again I would start with a smart resilient village in New Hampshire. Unstated it your article is the inevitable confrontation — possibly violent — as local and state rights begin nullifying federal corruption and idiocy, at the same time that massive citizen activism starts shutting down the inherited wealth fiats of the 1%.