There is a new city where no one lives, this is a city for technology and its development. The city is modelled on the real city of Rock Hill, South Carolina and is designed to allow the modelling new technologies without affecting anyone. This city will allow the development of smart technology based upon existing infrastructure. This ghost town is billed as the “largest scale testing and evaluation center (sic) in the world”. It will allow the development of new renewable technologies, smart grids, telecoms, resource development such as desalinisation and intelligent transport systems. This will be a real city that allows simulations and technology to be proven before being allowed out of the lab. A real city without a general population. For further information see the CITE web site.
The University College London (UCL) has created an urban lab. It is researching the future of urban environments and the rise of the “smart city”. They have being considering the impact of smart cities and what the term actually means. There are multiple aspects to the term and it can have many meanings. Smart cities are new and evolving and as a result are being defined in various ways. Whether this be from technology perspective or a social perspective: smart cities cannot be defined clearly yet. There are potential risks around constant citizen monitoring and tracking for example. This Urban Pamphleteer link has a report exploring some themes. One comment from it is from urban-social thinker Richard Sennett who has spoken out against what he calls the ‘stupefying smart city’ where there is an overabundance of new techno-informational tools. These tools are used for surveillance, connection, mobility, and exchange and have a deadening rather than liberating effect on everyday urban life. The discussions look at openness and access to information. Another idea to emerge is to build in some “slowness” where places are dedicated to escaping from the increasingly accelerating pace of life.
Will smart cities have traditional values as well: space for walking and relaxing? There are ideas about smart-energy and other smart-systems. In the UK, Glasgow in Scotland has multi-million pounds of investment in a smart-city project. The focus is generally on technology though. The technology must be considered in context of society and the benefits or otherwise that it may bring.