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Smart cities promise a utopian blend of technology and urban living. But can cities that discriminate or lack accessibility be considered intelligent? This article questions the role of technology in addressing complex urban issues and argues for a more nuanced approach to creating truly smart, inclusive cities.

In an era where the term 'smart city' is frequently bandied about, a critical reevaluation of its essence and impact is long overdue. This article delves into the concept of smart cities, questioning whether technology alone can genuinely address the complex issues that urban areas grapple with.

The Allure and Ambiguity of Smart Cities

Smart cities, promising a utopian blend of technology and urban living, have captured the global imagination. They envision a seamless ecosystem where Internet of Things (IoT) streamlines city life, from traffic management to waste disposal. However, beneath this alluring facade lies a murky reality.

The term 'smart city' often serves as a buzzword, lacking a clear definition or tangible solutions to urban problems. Irene Lebrusán, a sociology professor at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, argues that the smart city concept is frequently used to promote technological solutions without delving into the root causes of urban issues.

Questioning the Intelligence of Cities

"Can a city that discriminates, segregates, or lacks physical accessibility truly be considered intelligent?" asks Lebrusán. Her question underscores the necessity of examining social disparities, cultural interactions, and gentrification patterns when evaluating the intelligence of a city.

The risk of prioritizing technological advancement over social equity is evident in many current smart city initiatives. For instance, cities may employ predictive policing tools, inadvertently exacerbating existing racial biases in law enforcement. Similarly, smart urban developments could inadvertently contribute to gentrification, pushing out lower-income residents in favor of a more affluent demographic.

Rethinking Smart Urban Development

To create genuinely livable cities, we must acknowledge that technology is merely a tool, not a panacea. Lebrusán suggests that rethinking society and public policy is essential to addressing substantial issues such as livability, sustainability, and equality.

Smart cities should function within a framework of efficiency, aiding in problem-solving rather than perpetuating existing issues. This involves engaging with the human dimensions of urban existence, ensuring that cities cater to all their inhabitants equitably.

As we move forward, the challenge lies in recognizing that truly intelligent cities are those that respond not just to technical needs but also to the social fabric of urban life. By integrating technology thoughtfully and ethically, we can strive towards creating cities that are truly smart, inclusive, and livable for all.

In conclusion, the concept of smart cities demands a nuanced understanding and approach. While technology can undeniably enhance urban living, it is essential to address the underlying social, economic, and environmental challenges that cities face. Only then can we aspire to build urban spaces that are truly intelligent and inclusive.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Aqsa Younas Rana

Quelle/Source: bnn, 09.02.2024

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