7. THE SMART CITY TRAP

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It is impossible to complete research on the Internet of Things in the built environment without getting lost in the ‚Smart City‘ promise.
What appeas at first to be the pinnacle of 21st century technology and urbanism quickly amalgamated into better living for everyone quickly loses its appeal when you look more closely at the always-rendered imagery or the attractive people overcoming life’s problems like ordering milk online.
The rhetoric is always the same, the smart city will overcome all the short-comings of modern urban life. Congestion, pollution and the hustle and bustle of everyday life will all be a thing of the past in your shiny new Smart City.

“In the future everything in a city, from the electricity grid, to the sewer pipes to roads, buildings and cars will be connected to the network. Buildings will turn off the lights for you, self-driving cars will find you that sought-after parking space, even the rubbish bins will be smart.“
The reason for this utopian vision becomes clear when you learn who the key players are.
The smart city is a product that needs to be sold and the retailers are some of the biggest in the business: Siemens, Cisco, Microsft, Intel and IBM are are the powerhouses, all offering to fix a range of city problems “from water leaks, to air pollution to traffic congestion.“
That’s not to say that the problems of the city aren’t real. They are and they should be addressed. By 2050 its estimated that 75% of the world’s population will be living in cities. The pressure placed on, in many cases, already stressed infrastructure will need to be addressed.
Adam Greenfield, in his book ‚Against the smart city‘ explains that: out of all the potentials our moment might give rise to, and all the modes in which we might choose to use networked information technology in our cities, the narrative of the smart city as it is currently being articulted and advanced to us represents some of the least interesting and most problematic.“

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Anthony Townsend explains that

“Some people want to fine tune a city like you do a race car but they are leaving citizens out of the process,“
Dr Hudson-Smith is also doubtful:“there is a lot of buzz around smart cities but there is no technology out there that is actually changing people‘s lives.“
John Chambers and Wim Elfrink in an article titled ‚How the Internet of Everything will Change Cities,‘ however remain optomistic:
New tools will collect and share that data (some 15,000 applications are developed each week!) and, with analytics, that can be turned into information, intelligence, and even wisdom, enabling everyone to make better decisions, be more productive, and have more enriching experiences.
The quesions that arise from the smart city are as many as the problems they claim to solve.
The current trend is to build a new smart city from zero, the most popular being Masdar in Abu Dhabi and Songdo in South Korea. These new cities have the luxury of not having to deal with exisiting infrastructure and are able to be built from the ground up.
The reality is however, very few of us will live in such a city, more likely, the technological infrasturcture will be added to our existing cities, and that is no easy task.
retrofitting cities is no easy task. New cities like Songdo, Katz says, will always have a leg up on established places because it’s easier to start from scratch rather than retrofitting existing systems.
Greenfield points out that is far easier to mount sensors into dumpsters, cameras on lamp posts and RFID readers in the subway than it is to design into the urban fabric itself.
Do we sacrifice chance encounters in the smart city? Greenfield aptly summarises the smart city message as to make every unfolding process of the city visible to those charged with its management. To render the previously opaue or indeterminate not merely knowable but actionable; and ultimately, to permit the optimization of all the flows of matter, energy and information that constitute a great urban place.
But is that a desirable outcome for our cities?

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Will we descend into a situation described by Rob Kitchin and Martin Doge as a code/space – a place which can only operate with computational systems, and what should happen if these systems were to fail?
The outcome of the smart city will fall to who holds the data, will it be the users that generate such data, the companies who provide the hardware and infrastructure, or the state?
Chambers and Elfrink explain:
When the risks and rewards from projects are shared among partners, such as government leaders, private citizens, investors and technology companies, issues are more likely to be resolved and projects are more likely to be completed, because all parties have a stake in their investments. These partnerships are key to managing and financing projects that require advanced infrastructure and technology architecture.
Whether such data is controlled by big business or citizens is not yet clear, but it is worth remembering what cities were originally designed for, says Dan Hill, chief executive of research firm Fabrica.
“We don‘t make cities to be efficient, we make cities for culture, commerce, community – all of which are very inefficient,“

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PRESSURE - the force applied perpendicular to the surface of an object. Pressure sensors can be embedded into the physical environment in the likes of doors or floors or any element that experiences physical force. It can be used to gauge the position of people on floors to aid in way-finding or to monitor if someone were to fall to the floor in an accident.

PRESSURE

PRESSURE

BLUETOOTH -A wireless technology for exchanging data over short distances. Most Internet of Things devices will have a sensor like Bluetooth to provide the link between objects, people, elements and the data server (usually the cloud) . Bluetooth (or wifi/cellular) provides the link between objects and is what connects the built environment to the internet.

BLUETOOTH

BLUETOOTH

TIME - the indefinite continued progress  Time is a 'broad' sensor. All sensors will record time, as well as respond to time. Time sensors used to monitor   the sequence in which elements are used allows elements to anticipate their use, creating a highly responsive   built environment.

TIME

TIME – the indefinite continued progress Time is a ‘broad’ sensor. All sensors will record time, as well as respond to time. Time sensors used to monitor the sequence in which elements are used allows elements to anticipate their use, creating a highly responsive built environment.

MOTION - the act or process of changing position or place.  Motion sensors are used to detect and analyse either the type of movement a person makes within a space or   the movement of a person through a space. Motion can be relayed onto other objects and inform how these   objects operate, for example, a wall measuring the motion of someone when they awake triggering the lights to   switch on.

MOTION

MOTION – the act or process of changing position or place. Motion sensors are used to detect and analyse either the type of movement a person makes within a space or the movement of a person through a space. Motion can be relayed onto other objects and inform how these objects operate, for example, a wall measuring the motion of someone when they awake triggering the lights to switch on.

SOUND - vibrations that travel through the air or another medium and can be heard when they reach a person's   or animal's ear.  Sound sensors are used to measure noise levels across a range of frequencies. Sound sensors can be used to   activate security measures, for example, if elements register a sound such as glass breaking, an alarm could be   triggered. Sound sensors could also be sensitive enough to sense vibration alerting of foundation movement.

SOUND

SOUND – vibrations that travel through the air or another medium and can be heard when they reach a person’s or animal’s ear. Sound sensors are used to measure noise levels across a range of frequencies. Sound sensors can be used to activate security measures, for example, if elements register a sound such as glass breaking, an alarm could be triggered. Sound sensors could also be sensitive enough to sense vibration alerting of foundation movement.

RFID – (radio frequency identification) - the wireless use of electromagnetic fields to transfer data, for the purposes of automatically identifying and tracking tags attached to objects. RFID tags are used in a similar manner to barcodes, to record and track the usage and locations of possessions. Unlike a barcode, the tag contains electronically stored information, which can be transmitted to the reader from remote sites, offering greater flexibility of use.

RFID

RFID – (radio frequency identification) – the wireless use of electromagnetic fields to transfer data, for the purposes of automatically identifying and tracking tags attached to objects. RFID tags are used in a similar manner to barcodes, to record and track the usage and locations of possessions. Unlike a barcode, the tag contains electronically stored information, which can be transmitted to the reader from remote sites, offering greater flexibility of use.

SMOKE – a visible suspension of carbon or other particles in air, typically one emitted from a burning substance.  Smoke detectors analyse the air for smoke, typically as an indicator of fire. The sensors activate automatic   opening vents to extract the smoke from the building. When smoke is detected, an audible or visual alarm is   triggered and the emergency services are alerted.

SMOKE

SMOKE

PARTICLES – a minute portion of matter.  Particle detectors are used to detect, track and/or identify high energy particles, such as those produced by   nuclear decay or cosmic radiation. In unsafe conditions, sensors can alert people in the surrounding area to   evacuate and alert the emergency services immediately.

PARTICLES

PARTICLES – a minute portion of matter. Particle detectors are used to detect, track and/or identify high energy particles, such as those produced by nuclear decay or cosmic radiation. In unsafe conditions, sensors can alert people in the surrounding area to evacuate and alert the emergency services immediately.

TOUCH – the physiological sense by which external objects or forces are perceived through contact with the   body.  Touch sensors are used to operate elements within the built environment. Different types of touch motion i.e tap,   swipe, push trigger different actions. Touch recognition allows preferences to be recorded for multiple users.

TOUCH

TOUCH – the physiological sense by which external objects or forces are perceived through contact with the body. Touch sensors are used to operate elements within the built environment. Different types of touch motion i.e tap, swipe, push trigger different actions. Touch recognition allows preferences to be recorded for multiple users.

WIND – the perceptible natural movement of the air, especially in the form of a current of air blowing from a  particular direction. Wind meters are used to measure wind speed and direction over a certain area. If high levels   of wind are detected, protection measures are triggered to improve the comfort of an environment. During   extreme levels of wind, people may be instructed to evacuate or emergency services may be alerted.

WIND

WIND – the perceptible natural movement of the air, especially in the form of a current of air blowing from a particular direction. Wind meters are used to measure wind speed and direction over a certain area. If high levels of wind are detected, protection measures are triggered to improve the comfort of an environment. During extreme levels of wind, people may be instructed to evacuate or emergency services may be alerted.

TEMPERATURE – a measure of the average kinetic energy of atoms or molecules in a system.  Temperature sensors are used to monitor both the ambient temperature of a space and the temperature of   individuals within that space. The sensors can trigger temperature adjustments for the whole space or local to the   user, to improve user comfort levels.

TEMPERATURE

TEMPERATURE – a measure of the average kinetic energy of atoms or molecules in a system. Temperature sensors are used to monitor both the ambient temperature of a space and the temperature of individuals within that space. The sensors can trigger temperature adjustments for the whole space or local to the user, to improve user comfort levels.

HEART RATE – the number of heartbeats per unit of time, usually per minute.  Heart rate monitors are used to measure the heart rate of individuals, to help identify comfort levels and also   potential health risks. If an individual experiences heart problems, the emergency services can be alerted   immediately.

HEART RATE

HEART RATE – the number of heartbeats per unit of time, usually per minute. Heart rate monitors are used to measure the heart rate of individuals, to help identify comfort levels and also potential health risks. If an individual experiences heart problems, the emergency services can be alerted immediately.

SPEECH - the sound produced by the vocal organs of a vertebrate, especially a human.  Voice commands are used to instruct elements to perform a certain task or to initiate certain events. Voice   recognition allows preferences to be recorded for multiple users.

SPEECH

SPEECH – the sound produced by the vocal organs of a vertebrate, especially a human. Voice commands are used to instruct elements to perform a certain task or to initiate certain events. Voice recognition allows preferences to be recorded for multiple users.

FLAME – a hot glowing body of ignited gas that is  Flame sensors are used to detect and respond to the presence of a flame or fire. When a flame or fire is   detected, the sensor can trigger various responses, in the form of an alarm, a sprinkler system or deactivation of   a fuel line. A flame detector can often respond faster and more accurately than a smoke or heat detector,   enabling immediate evacuation of an affected area.

FLAME

FLAME – a hot glowing body of ignited gas that is Flame sensors are used to detect and respond to the presence of a flame or fire. When a flame or fire is detected, the sensor can trigger various responses, in the form of an alarm, a sprinkler system or deactivation of a fuel line. A flame detector can often respond faster and more accurately than a smoke or heat detector, enabling immediate evacuation of an affected area.

BRIGHTNESS – the   effect  Light sensors are used to monitor and adjust the brightness of a space. An optimum level of illuminance can be   achieved to improve user comfort or to enhance the experience of a space, for example, the lighting in a gallery   adjusted to consider the level of natural daylighting.

BRIGHTNESS

BRIGHTNESS – the effect Light sensors are used to monitor and adjust the brightness of a space. An optimum level of illuminance can be achieved to improve user comfort or to enhance the experience of a space, for example, the lighting in a gallery adjusted to consider the level of natural daylighting.

AIR QUALITY – the degree to which air in a particular place is pollution-free.  Air quality sensors sample the air regularly to analyse pollution content i.e dust, pollen, gas. The sensors trigger   the extraction of pollutants to improve air quality and user comfort. The sensors can alert the user or emergency   services in a case where the level of pollutant is dangerous.

AIR QUALITY

AIR QUALITY – the degree to which air in a particular place is pollution-free. Air quality sensors sample the air regularly to analyse pollution content i.e dust, pollen, gas. The sensors trigger the extraction of pollutants to improve air quality and user comfort. The sensors can alert the user or emergency services in a case where the level of pollutant is dangerous.

WATER – a clear, colourless, odourless, and tasteless liquid, H2O, essential for most plant and animal life.  Moisture sensors are used to monitor the moisture content of both natural and built elements. The sensors can   be used to trigger responses to improve user comfort or safety. In natural environments, high levels or water   detection can trigger a flood warning. In the built environment, early water detection can prevent water damage to   infrastructure.

WATER

WATER – a clear, colourless, Moisture sensors are used to monitor the moisture content of both natural and built elements. The sensors can be used to trigger responses to improve user comfort or safety. In natural environments, high levels or water detection can trigger a flood warning. In the built environment, early water detection can prevent water damage to infrastructure.

EEG – (electroencephalogram) a test that detects electrical activity in the brain using electrodes.  EEGs are used to map the brain activity of individual to gauge comfort, mood and responses to the environment.   Impulse responses to changes in the surrounding can be recorded and used to improve the environmental   conditions according to individual user preferences.

EEG

EEG – (electroencephalogram) a test that detects electrical activity in the brain using electrodes. EEGs are used to map the brain activity of individual to gauge comfort, mood and responses to the environment. Impulse responses to changes in the surrounding can be recorded and used to improve the environmental conditions according to individual user preferences.

PROXIMITY – nearness in space, time, or relationship.  Proximity sensors use infrared to detect the presence of nearby objects without any physical contact. Elements   are able to detect the distance between themselves, other elements and individuals. When certain proximity is   recorded between two elements or an element and an individual, the element is triggered to respond with an   action.

PROXIMITY

PROXIMITY – nearness in space, time, or relationship. Proximity sensors use infrared to detect the presence of nearby objects without any physical contact. Elements are able to detect the distance between themselves, other elements and individuals. When certain proximity is recorded between two elements or an element and an individual, the element is triggered to respond with an action.

LOCATION – a particular place or position where something is or where something is occurring.  Position sensors are used to record the location of people and objects. Sensors are able to track both individual’s   movements and place-specific events, enabling the surrounding environment to alter to suit the preferences of   each individual and of each event.

LOCATION

LOCATION – a particular place or position where something is or where something is occurring. Position sensors are used to record the location of people and objects. Sensors are able to track both individual’s movements and place-specific events, enabling the surrounding environment to alter to suit the preferences of each individual and of each event.

CAMERA – a device for recording visual images in the form of photographs, film, or video signals.  Cameras are incorporated into elements, enabling both still images and video recordings to be captured at all   times. These images and recordings can be relayed instantly to other elements which are responsible for   adjusting the environment, either to enhance user comfort or to improve security.

CAMERA

CAMERA – a device for recording visual images in the form of photographs, film, or video signals. Cameras are incorporated into elements, enabling both still images and video recordings to be captured at all times. These images and recordings can be relayed instantly to other elements which are responsible for adjusting the environment, either to enhance user comfort or to improve security.

BARCODE - a machine-readable code in the form of numbers widths, printed on a commodity and used especially for stock control. Barcodes are used to scan items as they pass from one threshold to another i.e. doors, corridors, windows. The use of possessions is recorded and their locations tracked. A low stock item is replenished or redistributed accordingly.

BARCODE

BARCODE – a machine-readable code in the form of numbers widths, printed on a commodity and used especially for stock control. Barcodes are used to scan items as they pass from one threshold to another i.e. doors, corridors, windows. The use of possessions is recorded and their locations tracked. A low stock item is replenished or redistributed accordingly.