Smart Cities

From Toronto to Songdo, Bangalore to Southampton, smart cities are on the rise. Smart cities use networked technologies and predictive algorithms to assist with the operation and maintenance of cities. These technologies can be used to monitor traffic, pollution, crime, tax collection and for a number of other city services. Such endeavors promise to streamline the administration of public services, increase efficiency in transportation, encourage innovation and reduce municipalities’ carbon footprint.

Yet these initiatives raise a number of ethical questions and troubling implications regarding data ownership, discrimination, and surveillance. Without due consideration to these issues, smart cities can entrench or exacerbate inequalities and undermine the inclusive, citizen-centered deliberation that is central to the project of participatory democracy.

Much has been written about smart cities, and the voluminous scholarship is both celebratory and critical. This project systematically reviews the extant literature about the ethical implications of smart cities, ranging from environmental considerations to issues questions about who controls not only services like transportation or waste management, but our political process itself. In doing so, we hope to map the debate surrounding a technological project already underway that will surely play a more salient role in discourse about both urban planning and technology well into the future.