Adam Greenfield tactically eviscerates the “Smart Cities” fad. As he shows in the opening, Smart Cities is not only undefinable, no one agrees on what it is exactly. Indeed, check out IBM’s Smarter Cities page and try to formulate a definition. I certainly can’t define Smart Cities, despite my planning and law background.
It seems “Smart Cities” is a repackaging of existing software offered by IBM, Cisco, Siemens, and a few other gigantic tech companies. They’ve taken off-the-shelf, ready made software and reshaped and rebranded it as a miracle product for progressive cities.
Greenfield says we can do better. And we can. Everyone agrees that city governments need to run more efficiently. That information should be easily accessible, and the rules for business, real estate, and land development be as clear and consistent as possible.
Anyone who has interacted with their local or county governments will tell you that cities are in dire need of more efficient processes.
Try this experiment: visit your city’s website and find the time, location, and agenda for the next budget meeting (good luck!). If you do this, hit me up and let me know how long it took and what issues you encountered.
And that’s just navigating a standard calendar of routine government business. Imagine what it’s like to get permission to build an addition to a home, or start a new business, or (god-forbid), plop solar panels onto your roof.
IBM and others make the promise that these issues can be resolved with their software and specialized consultants. But there is something about this approach to “Smart Cities” that smacks of a used-car salesman’s slimy sales pitch. The car-buying experience is bewildering - no one is happy going through the process, truth is obscured by need, and promises are buried under further, more far-reaching promises. The difference between IBM et al’s approach and the car salesman is that the salesman is aware of the deception…