Can Smart Cities Empower Their Citizens?

Over the past few years, the idea of smart cities has come into vogue.  Usually this refers to city governments using information technology (i.e., some form of digital surveillance) to manage infrastructure more efficiently.   Planetizen recently highlighted a post by Mike Clay of Wodehouse that puts a slightly different spin on the technology:

. . . . Smart cities require a vast amount of data to be collected on every aspect of our lives, every minute of every day and the increased interest in using social media for urban activism gives cities another way of collecting it. . . .smarttech

. . . .In Poland, the worried citizens of the Europe’s third most polluted city, Krakow, launched a Facebook campaign called Krakow Smog Alert to stop the usage of coal.  The thought that Krakovians breathe in the amount of benzo(a)pyrene which is comparable to smoking 2500 cigarettes a year, pressured citizens to launch a social media campaign. Thanks to the campaign’s virality and the interest it raised, the use of solid fuels was banned, giving Krakow’s citizens the chance to look forward to a healthier future. . . .

. . . .By actively encouraging participation from citizens, cities not only harness the power of crowd-sourcing but they elicit a feeling of participation. This feeling of ownership gives citizens more pride in the place in which they live, and makes them feel a duty to look after the space they share with others.

You can read the full post here.

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