Week 3: Data and the smart city: Critical perspectives

“There are few examples of progressive smart cities, but Barcelona’s recent reorientation of its smart city ambitions offers some pointers.” (Kitchin, R., 2019: 19)

A right-wing government allows Barcelona to be urbanized in a neoliberal approach. It implemented a wide range of smart city initiatives and it aims to bring smart cities around the world by SCEWC event. Nevertheless, there was a change in the approach to smart cities in May 2015. The purpose of this change is to make smart city campaigns focus more on citizens and promote participatory characteristic, which means that local people can use and own the technology. This is called “technological sovereignty”. According to Galdon, the source of technologies is committed to be open and there ought to be a guarantee for the residents to have access to it. Bria (2018) also emphasizes that citizens should have a close connection with technology and their rights need to be maintained.

“Cities cannot succeed in isolation.”  (P. 54)

This can be expressed by civic applications, data controlling or sensors done by the public instead of specific companies. In addition to this, Barcelona has tried to change the policy of the smart city to move the control and creation out of the private interests. Instead, it promotes the social development and civic movements. All of these endeavors including technological sovereignty illustrate the right decision in politics of the city.

To make cities develop and become successful, government need to ally with cities or political organizations to make sure that all devices or software can be used by the public rather than corporates. Therefore, there should be a participation of local companies or entrepreneurs in providing inventive services that protect the rights of workers and labor standards. This approach can enhance democracy and help to develop the economy in which laborers’ rights are ensured and long-term benefits are promoted. This is certainly not the only action that can be done, but it demonstrates how making a change in technological factors can develop the general welfare.




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