Week 4 – Dumb Cities

Mosco describes the concept of a smart city as ‘The Next Internet’ (Mosco, 2019: 59), combining IoT, cloud computing, big data analytics and advanced telecommunications systems that embed tracking and data collection technology while creating connections with other objects, including people. While transhumanists might go even a step further in their quest to merge artificial intelligence and humans, in the meantime, global high-tech companies (Mosco,2019: 72 – 74) are eager to earn more profits by implementing smart technologies that could help create optimised digital infrastructure and better network systems. Advocates of the smart city join in their efforts (Mosco,2019: 66). At the same time, by describing his problems with security systems in his building, where he could not open the electronic entrance, Sadowski warns us that ‘systems’ are not perfect (Sadowski,2017: 6). They can not think, can not improvise and can be ineffective. As this funny commercial shows, sometimes even annoying and stressful:

Not only does the commercial above showing how digital technologies can be the opposite of what usually is promoted as “smart”, but the fact that not all the people like the idea of the ‘Next internet’ and IoT. Guardian has published an interesting article about a possible alternative – ‘Dumb cities’. Amy Flaming describes how we can rewild our urban landscapes and apply low-tech ecological solutions to drainage, wastewater processing, flood survival, local agriculture and pollution, with no need for electronic sensors, computer servers or extra IT support. We can weave ancient knowledge of how to live symbiotically with nature into how we shape the cities of the future.

The idea of the city, which makes symbiosis with nature, maybe would not be welcomed by global corporations and high-tech, but as Sadowski emphasised, our informational right is not just to ask for more transparency but to have the right to raise the voices against the accumulated power structures. (Sadowski,2017: 11). The city is for all of us, and the right should go even further – to have the right not to live in the smart city if we do not want to.


Flaming, A. (2020) The case for … making low-tech ‘dumb’ cities instead of ‘smart’ ones. Guardian, 15. Januar [Online]. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2020/jan/15/the-case-for-making-low-tech-dumb-cities-instead-of-smart-ones

Mosco, V. (2019) The Smart City in a Digital World. Emerald Publishing Limited

Sadowski, J (2017) ‘Access denied: Snapshots of exclusion and enforcement in the smart city’ in Shaw, J and Graham, M. ed. Our Digital rights to the citypp 6-11. Meatspace Press


Your Man In London Collecting (2019), Smart House {funny commercial}. 10 Mar 2019 [Online]. Available at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LELq9ZbS8o


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