Meanwhile, questions about the role of technology in urban life have created something of a smart city backlash. In Toronto, where Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs is planning to construct a smart neighborhood, citizen groups are balking at handing public space over to private companies. In New Orleans and Chicago, activists have decried secret surveillance programs by data-mining companies. The term “smart city” has become so loaded that some of its main boosters, including Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff, tend to avoid using it.
IDEAS FOR A MORE CONNECTED CITY
Instead of solely orienting around profit per square foot, we invite developers to think about experience per square foot. At the building scale, smart systems can augment human ability and cater to detailed individual needs by automating dozens of tasks or cross-referencing information for truly personalized experiences. At the skyline level, we can use digital displays like those framing the Shanghai Tower to bring silent and static urban landscapes to life and tell a collective story in which everyone can find meaning.