Orit Halpern / Robert Mitchell: RETHINKING SMARTNESS

Becoming a “smart city”

Like many metropolitan centers around the world, Berlin aspires to be a “smart city.” Making a city smart usually involves constructing a dense net of sensors, often embedded in and around more traditional infrastructures throughout the urban environment, such as transportation systems, electrical grids, and water systems. The process also requires the city to solicit the distributed input of its inhabitants through active technological means, such as smart phone apps. Finally, the city employs high-end computing and learning algorithms to analyze the resulting data, with the goal of optimizing urban technical, social, and political processes. Yet, perhaps counter-intuitively, a smart city is not synonymous with a utopian—or even a specific—form of the city, which would then remain stable for the foreseeable future. In this sense, the smart city is quite unlike utopian cities as they were imagined in the past, when it was presumed that a specific form—such as Le Corbusier’s “Radiant City” or the concentric circles of Ebenezer Howard’s garden cities—would enable a specific goal, such as integration of humans into natural processes, or economic growth, or an increase in collective happiness, or democratic political participation. Rather, a city is “smart” when it achieves the capacity to adjust to any new and unexpected threats and possibilities that may emerge from the city’s ecological, political, social, and economic environments (a capacity that is generally referred to in planning documents with the term “resilience”). In short, a smart city is a site of perpetual learning, and a city is smart when it achieves the capacity to engage in perpetual learning. „Orit Halpern / Robert Mitchell: RETHINKING SMARTNESS“ weiterlesen