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Author Questions Assumptions About Smart Cities

Tuesday, July 28, 2020
KU News Service | Rick Hellman
Some 40 years after thinking began in earnest and 20 years after implementation did likewise, a University of Kansas professor believes it’s time to take a critical look at the golden child of urban planning, the internet-enabled smart city. For while its capabilities might lend themselves to contact tracing for coronavirus or a future pandemic, they also allow governments to monitor and arrest righteous street protesters.
In “Smart Cities” (The MIT Press, 2020), Germaine Halegoua reviews the state of the art and argues that ordinary citizens need better tools to evaluate the promises and pitfalls of this seeming juggernaut of public-private development.
“That everything is double-sided, or that there's a duality to a lot of these promises and justifications, is exactly what makes the smart city so interesting to look at and so troublesome,” said Halegoua, associate professor of film & media studies. “For every innovation, there are not just unintended consequences, but there is so much complexity within urban environments and so many different populations that use and experience the city so distinctly, that to design this sort of one-size-fits-all model of smart urbanism, it’s not really accurate, and it's not really useful.”
Halegoua’s research has focused on networking, including the arcane topic of dark fiber, a physical legacy of the dot-com boom. Read more...

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