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The ‘Smart City’ vision is shaped by providers of big technology, who are not attuned to bottom-up innovation, or the messy, disruptive ways that people use technology. It is a vision shaped around the need of the suppliers, and by the mindset of top-down masterplanning. More damningly still, the big technology companies are selling ‘smart city in a box’ solutions to cities, walled gardens that prevent scalable local business innovation. It is not surprising therefore that the technology is not selling, as the ‘smarter’ cities turn away.
The idea of the Smart Citizen has been proposed by thinkers such as Dan Hill […] to shift the debate towards the most important dimension of cities, the people who live, work and create within them.
On the one hand there is the view that Smart City design should allow for the disruptive ways in which people use technology. But there is also a stronger claim here, namely that citizens can, and should, play a leading role in conceiving, designing, building, maintaining our cities of the future.
This is a call for a fundamental shift in the way we think about our cities and about urban development, that goes beyond a plea for wider public consultation in the planning process. Alongside ‘top-down’ master-planning, we need to enable ‘bottom-up’ innovation and collaborative ways of developing systems out of many, loosely joined parts.
Drew Hemment and Anthony Townsend, Here Come The Smart Citizens
h/t to Manu Fernandez
I love this post. Especially calling out the top-down mentality that routinely forgets to navigate by the customer/audience/individual as it’s “north star” - and ends up being surprised when they disrupt their plans again and again.