Experts warn that a technology-driven Smart City should be designed with people at the centre of planning. Otherwise, it will turn into a dystopia.
But no one can deny or stop the development of Smart Cities as internet penetration has become universal and the digital tools stemming out of the information and communication technology are getting optimised for efficiency, productivity and comfort.
Smart Cities would have intelligent transport systems and other smart technologies that are integrated into urban command centres, which analyse millions of data that will be used to monitor sewers to healthcare units.
However, many experts say that being quantitative doesn’t protect against bias. They, therefore, demand a people-centred approach to city design.
They warn that developing Smart Cities by ignoring decades of research by architects, geographers, urban planners, designers and sociologists could lead to a dystopian future where humans will ultimately lose out if the focus solely remained on mindless pursuit of convenience and efficiency.
Without ethics, algorithms that determine the running of Smart Cities will be counterproductive. In such a situation democratic institutions can provide a safely valves especially when the urban centres have socially and economically diverse populations.
Smart Cities should be able to provide smart comforts and unlock the advantage of social diversity. It should be ensured that privatisation of public spaces in the city is not allowed because of its deep and significant implications for equity, democracy and rights.