all of thisdepands on electricityso tokyo is one of the world’s smartest cities today, but only when your neighborhood isnt being subject to one of the scheduled rolling blackouts that darkened the screens in Shibuya Crossing
then surveillance – the fast uptake of smart city technologies in regions where its being used to reinforce government control and surveillance over populationsin all of these, it’s the poor that disproportionately will bear the cost of our shortcomings and failures
so how do we make smart cities more inclusive? more supportive of the poor?the good thing is that the technological foundations to do so are there, being put in place by industry and government
people who don’t have access to fixed infrastructure, propertyal lthe urban migrants we talk aboutesp in the developing world, mobile is the infrastructure for the marginalized
well, the foundations are clearly emerging
but its not just technology – we also need visions and solutions that focus on the problems of the poorthis future forecastmap we developedsupport from the Rockefeller Foundationto outline some of the opportunities that exist to shape a more inclusive smart cityand some of the tensions that are likely to emerge
what if the crowdsourcing of public services moves to the next step, unleashes citizens to take on some of the roles of governmentfromseeclickfix – a social high-tech 311 appto platforms like groundcrew which describes itself as “mission control for the people”
this could empower the poor and their advocates to tackle new problems with new resourcesbut this could severely impact the poor if not managed properlyallow governments to offload responsibilities or never take them on in the first place
really all we know about the poor is the bare minimum we’re required to collect once per decadefrom doing that better, like in Brazil where paper has been removed from the processto being as good as market researchers, using platforms like TxtEagle, a Media Lab spinoff that is working with the UN to build a 60-nation compensation-based survey platform using mobiles
but whenever governments or aid organizations collect data, there is the potential for misusethe tension is between collecting data that can inform good policy planning and designbut putting on the proper safeguards to prevent misuse
access will still be a barrier, and will fragment into many kinds of digital we’ll see public computing centers, where people who lack basic literacy on how to interact with computers and the web, to become hotspots of innovation in interfaces that really work for the poormove from terminals to more natural gestural and spoken interfaces, like the hacked Microsoft Kinect-based GUI developed by the Media Lab’s Fluid Interfaces Group
even if they can overcome the most basic challenge of human-computer interactionfor the poor, getting access to urban information and data will mean navigating a proliferation of digital dividesnarrowband vs broadbandwalled gardens vs full webraw data vs understandable visualizations and summaries
WE MUST AVOID THIS AT ALL COSTS
I want to leave you with a framework created by Richard Heeks in the UK, for thinking about how technology can address poverty in the smart city
SMART CITIES WILL BE… GREEN SAFE CONVENIENT (AND POSSIBLY)FUN …IF YOU ARE FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO LIVE IN ONE
a planet of civic laboratories the future of cities, informationand inclusion Anthony Townsend Research Director INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE Presented at Forum on Future Cities Massachusetts Institute of Technology April 12, 2011
CURRENT VISIONS OF SMART CITIES DON’T ADDRESS THE NEEDS OF THE POOR AND EXCLUDED
bugs in the smart cityis debugging a century-long project?
brittle intelligencecan we secure the underlying foundation?
surveillance societyare smart cities merely instruments of control?
SO HOW CAN WE MAKE SMART CITIES MORE INCLUSIVE?
mobile broadband = infrastructure for the marginalized