It is often uncritically assumed that, when digital technologies are integrated into the operation of city functions, they inevitably contribute to sustainable urban development. Such a notion rests largely on the belief that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) solutions pave the way for more democratic forms of planning, and that ‘smart’ technological devices result in a range of environmental benefits, e.g., energy efficiency and the mitigation of global warming. Drawing on the scientific literature that deals with ‘smart cities’, we here elaborate on how both propositions fail to consider drawbacks that could be characterized as ‘wicked’, i.e., problems that lack simplistic solutions and straightforward planning responses, and which often come about as ‘management surprises’, as a byproduct of achieving sustainability.
We here deal with problems related to public choice constraints, ‘non-choice default technologies’ and the costs of automation for human learning and resilience. To avoid undemocratic forms of planning and too strong a dependence on non-choice default technologies, e.g., smart phones, we recommend that planners and policy makers safeguard redundancy in public-choice options by maintaining a wide range of alternative choices, including analog ones. Resilience thinking could help planners deal more effectively with the ‘wickedness’ of an increasingly hyper-connected society.
Research news | 2020-02-21
Despite rapid urban growth, agriculture in a wetland area in the south of Mexico City soldiers on, more than a millennium after its birth
Research news | 2020-02-19
Malin Falkenmark calls for a shift towards a water based biosphere stewardship. The alternative, she warns, could be catastrophic
Research news | 2020-02-17
Trying to reach the goals under current business-as-usual will come at a heavy price on the planetary boundaries
Research news | 2020-02-14
The new "Our Future On Earth" report provides risks analysis based on survey of 222 global sustainability experts, including centre researchers
Research news | 2020-02-13
New assessment aims to fill critical gaps in understanding the growing role aquatic foods play in the global food system
Research news | 2020-02-09
A new study harmonizes the water planetary boundary with local boundaries for the La Cienega wetlands in Colombia