Ubikquity and the illuminated city-3rd edition

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Ubikquity & the Illuminated City From Smart to Intelligent Urban Environments

Written by Prof.dr.ir. Arjan van Timmeren and Laurence Henriquez Designed by Alexandra Reynolds 2


UBIKQUITY AND THE ILLUMINATED CITY From Smart to Intelligent Urban Environments. Authors: Arjan van Timmeren Laurence Henriquez Designed by: Alexandra Reynolds 1 st edition 1800 copies 2 nd edition 1200 copies TU Delft publication Printed on 100g white FSC Mix Credit Body set in 12 point Crimson Text This book is the basis of the Foundation Day Lecture ‘Intelligent Cities. Moving Forward’, for the 173rd Dies Natalis of the Delft University of Technology, TU Delft, as delivered on Friday 9 January 2015 by Arjan van Timmeren. Delft University of Technology (TUD) Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment Department Urbanism Chair Environmental Technology & Design P.O. Box 5043 2600 GA Delft The Netherlands

You are Ubik. Before the universe was, you were. You made the suns. You made the worlds. You created the lives and the places they inhabit; you move them here, you put them there. They go as you say, then do as you tell them. You are the word and your name is never spoken, the name which no one knows. You are called Ubik, but that is not your name. You are. You shall always be.

www.etd.bk.tudelft.nl ISBN 978-94-6186-417-8 Legal Notice: The publisher and editors have attempted to identify the owners of all published photos and illustrations and have listed them in the index figures. Copyright holders who nevertheless want to assert copyright claims are kindly requested to contact the authors. The information and views set out in this booklet are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of Delft University of Technology. Neither the Delft University of Technology nor the authors may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.



88 06

I n t rod uc t Ion


u rb a n IzatIon I n c r IsI s


n e t work ed e n v I ronmen ts

10 Rise and Collapse of Cities 13 From Nations to Cities

23 Environmental Status Quo 24 Limits to Urban Growth

32 Wicked Problems


r I s e of the s m a rt c ItIes

dI gItal dI vIdes and elIte enclaves

gIve us your data and we’ll gIve you a techno-utopIa

92 Public Investment & Research Funding go ‘Smart’

102 Plutocratisation 106 The ‘Right to Infrastructure’

115 Rise of Algorithms and ‘The End of Theory’ 119 Predictive Policing Technology 121 Every Technology Encodes a Hypothesis


lIberté, p rédIctI vIté, unIformI té

u bI k quIty

t e c h noa u s t erIty





Is somethIng rotten In the state of denmark?

49 Capital-biased Technical Change 52 Competitive Cities and Crobos

64 67 69 74 76

Smart versus Intelligent Smart Solutions for Dumb Designs The Internet of Things A World of Opportunities Will the Real Smart City Please Stand Up

129 Limiting Innovation


acceleratIon towards cloud feudal Ism


Il l um In a t e d c ItIe s

136 Control and Trust

153 156 159 167 168

From Urban Consumers to Smart Citizens Agonism and Creativity Digital Democracy & Participatory Urban Planning Renegotiating our User Privacy Agreement Interoperability and Open Source


In tr o du ct Io n


what was It that nudged Homo sapiens sapiens, very wise (hu)man as it were, from our humble origins as dispersed bands of bigheaded, somewhat organized, yet perpetually hungry hunter-gathers scraping existence wherever the lumbering woolly herds took us to the present apotheosis of Homo economicus? Homo economicus, that clever mammalian species whose rarefied penchant for social organization, technological innovation and self-interest has created the monolithically obtuse socio-politicaleconomic system that, for better or worse, now commandeers nearly half the land surface of the earth and the oceans for its increasingly divergent and exponentially growing needs. Was it divine intervention? Or was it pure dumb luck? Nothing can be proven with absolute certainty as the abyss of prehistory has a tendency of obscuring the truth, but one should probably start about 6000 years ago when humanity began to establish permanent settlements in the six (known) cradles of civilization. Those lucky enough to find themselves in these unique regions blessed with fertile soil, temperate climate, and bountiful sources of freshwater established settlements whose inhabitants utilized primitive agricultural techniques to domesticate and selectively breed flora and fauna. In time, rapid advancements in agriculture, metallurgy, and irrigation lead to a surplus of food and population growth, the sin qua non of urban existence1. These developments necessitated greater sophistication of social organization that afforded a privileged stratum of society—artisans, traders, government and religious officials—to centralize political will, economic power, technological innovation and culture magnetism around the first recognizable iterations of what could be described as cities2.


Ubikquity & the Illuminated City


RISE AND COLLAPSE OF CITIES Hovels along the Nile, Tigris, Euphrates, Indus and Yellow Rivers flourished into our first urban agglomerations as surplus food, goods, tools, and new and improved modes of mobility created room for commerce and trade. Expansion of trade demanded technological innovation, record keeping and proper infrastructures like barriers, defensive walls, roads, carts, boats and harbors to facilitate growth. The maintenance and production of these goods, services and infrastructures attracted those from the surrounding hinterlands with the prospect of protection, jobs and opportunities. The self-reinforcing feedback loop of urban growth, fluxes in labor, and migration from hinterlands to urban areas, and the reciprocity between cities, hinterlands, culture and nature3 put strains on natural resources and the infrastructures of cities as their economies were still primarily agrarian, forcing them to increase their sphere of influence or suffer eventual collapse. To be sure, levels of urbanization at the time were extremely low and wealth inequality extremely high, with cities reserved for only the elite of the elite and their retinue. None of the smattering of cities that existed prior to 2000 BCE had a population above 80,000. Limits to agriculture, natural resources, water and transportation technology meant that cities had to be


planned within walking distance and inside the perimeter of its defensive walls. And if city size increased too much, new cities were created in the periphery near other hotspots of (physical) essential goods. Throughout the millennia cities prospered, but eventually, political, economic, social and cultural factors, resource scarcity and climate change led to their collapse4. While populations migrated between hinterlands and urban areas like a displaced pendulum,

as empires and the cultures that created them expanded and then disappeared into annals of history, the general factors that sustain and constrain urban prosperity have remained the same to this very day. In the 19th century, quantum leaps in innovation brought about by the industrial revolution allowed cities to transcend traditional barriers to growth. Revolutionary forms of production such as machine run factories were powered first by wood—that is, until it ran out. At the time, manpower, animal power, and

one of the first and largest urban settlements in the ancient world, had a population no larger than 40,000 in an area between 85 to 200 hectares. It’s important to understand that this city was the capital of the Indus Valley Civilization, which at its height in 2600 BCE had a population of 5 million and covered an area of 1.5 million km 2. That means it was the city of the .008 percent, never mind the 1 percent!

Ubikquity & the Illuminated City



> urban growth is still checked by more or less by the same biophysical factors as our ancestors the use of wind and water no longer sufficed as sources of energy for industrial activities. As a result, rampant clear-cutting of forests lead to what some scholars consider Europe’s first ‘energy crisis’. This was one of the major factors behind the German Confederation’s implementation of the nachhaltiges bauen in the 18th century, one of the first national efforts to reforest Europe and considered by some as the origin of sustainability as we know it today5. The energy crisis was eventually remediated by mining coal on a large scale, thus increasing productivity by magnitudes. This marks the first inflection point in human history in which the majority of society began to live in urban areas, allowing true urbanization to take hold as cities began to expand above and beyond the capacities of local natural fallback systems that once restricted their size. Acclaimed ecologist Eugene Odum correctly observed that, “current cities are parasites that, unlike successful parasites in nature, have not evolved mutual aid relationships with their life-support host landscape that prevent the parasite from killing off its host and thereby itself6,7.” In time, the buzzing factories that signaled the imminent death of agrarian man were met by the steel tendrils of railroads that slithered across continents, connecting once isolated communities in their wake. Strata of telegraph wires, roads and bridges eventually created a plexus of technologies that quilted the earth as the electrification of civilization began to illuminate and eventually consume the starlight nights of our forefathers. Our greatest asset apart from our clever minds are the bountiful supplies of cheap energy we use derived from the billions of life forms whose matter was converted into useful hydrocarbons over the eons (coal, oil, natural gas, etc.), substances abundant enough to power the innovations that have lifted billions from poverty and starvation yet still scarce enough to demarcate geopolitical conflicts.

In 2015, Homo economicus has created a sight to behold. Today, two dominant themes in the urbanization debate acknowledge that firstly, networks have become the driving forces of urban development and that the scale and complexity of these networks are growing at an accelerated pace. Secondly, they observe that the increased public awareness of environmental issues is drawing considerable attention to the—either conflicting or potentially synergic—relationship between nature and urban spaces8. Cities in the developed world that have benefited from long standing planning policies have an urban form which, to a degree, separates the built environment from nature nature and areas of agricultural production9. This kind of design and planning has also reserved multi-purpose green parks as a response to the environmental challenges. Due to rapid urbanization, in many developing countries such a clear separation doesn’t exist. Whilst there is no universally agreed upon definition, an ‘urban area’ is generally understood as a continuously built-up area with a total population of between 2,000 and 40 million people living at a density of around 1,000 per square kilometer and employed primarily in non-agricultural activities (the appendices to the 2007 revision of the UN World Urbanization Prospects summarize such criteria from around the world, while the 38.7 million limitation was estimated then to be the population of the world’s largest city, Tokyo, in 2025)10. Urban environments are the basis of the anthrosphere: a collection of 196 nation-states with a population of 7 billion and counting that adhere to a globalized neoliberal economic system geared towards perpetual growth, despite the fact it consumes 50 percent more resources than the planet can sustainably replenish. Additionally, local and municipal governments are increasingly offloading key infrastructural development to multinational corporations, some of which have more assets than many of the countries in the world. To be sure, of the 100 largest economic entities on earth 41 are corporations11. The backdrop of the drama of modernity will be the estimated 60012 ‘global cities’ that concentrate the vast majority of capital, talent, creativity and industry, so much so that it is not so farfetched to imagine an atavistic future where society is run not by nations, but by a highly interconnected network of ‘denationalized’ city-states13,14. This might also go on to include a few corporately-owned, artificial archipelagoes inhabited by Silicon Valley venture capitalists and tech companies that sail around the world in international waters, allowing them to do as please without the nuisances of taxes and international labor laws15. Modern life is defined by its thoroughgoing commitment to the new

Ubikquity & the Illuminated City Ubikquity and IntelligenCITIES


> man-made catastroPhes In the modern era are less localIzed than ever before

<< Cars swept through the streets of Manhattan in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy (2012)

or, more precisely, endless process of renewal16. Since the new must always be renewed, something like planned obsolescence is intrinsic. Rapid population growth, urbanization, economic inequality, political austerity, resource scarcity, climate change and the specter of planetary-scale computation may lead to unpredictable cascading effects as natural and man-made catastrophes in the modern era tend to be less localized than ever before. This is due to the fact that the mere movement of people inside and in-between cities depends on a number of socio-technical infrastructures such as electricity grids, telecommunication networks, water networks, energy networks, railway networks, road networks and the Internet that are integrated at the global scale and used extensively and simultaneously by humanity. While our technological cleverness might give us an edge in tackling these interrelated and compounding crises, urban growth is still checked by more or less the same biophysical factors as our ancestors. In a way though, the element of crisis 14

and our attempts to escape its grasp—or cause it, depending on what side of the sword you are on—has been with us since the genesis of civilization and can be interpreted as one of the few evolutionary forces of (human) nature that we have yet to overcome. In an effort to combat these issues, among others, the ‘smart’ city imaginary has been proposed by policymakers and private industry as a panacea to urban problems. In their eyes, information and communication technology (ICT) can be used to make cities more efficient, environmentally sustainable, economically attractive and socially inclusive. Considering the threat of the near-term extinction of our species, any discourse that claims to offer such wide-ranging benefits deserves a thorough investigation.


Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

Urbanization in Crisis

we expect the extraordinary “ ifachievements of human culture to survive, we have to drastically change our self-destructive patterns.



u r b a n I z a tIo n I n cr I sI s



Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

Urbanization in Crisis

<< Rocinha is the largest favela (shanty town) in Brazil. It lies on the hills surrounding Rio de Janeiro

our domInance over most of the planet stems from attitudes towards the ontology nature, its seemingly infinite bounty, and our relationship with the planet itself. This has resulted in the begrudgingly dominant perspective of the ‘make-ability’ of the environment17. If we expect the extraordinary achievements of human culture and its myriad urbanisms to survive we will have to drastically change some of our more self-destructive patterns. This must result in behavioral changes towards one another as well as a shift in our understanding of the relationship between the built and natural environment and the mutuality of their material and information flows3. But let’s be honest, gross self-interest, fecklessness and greed have never been our most lauded virtues. Just like in ages past, modern cities are still highly dependent upon the built and natural environments of their surrounding hinterlands and a complex network of infrastructures and mobility for supplying materials, energy, and disposing of waste3. The main difference now is that the auspice of technology and the highly interconnected nature and demands of the global economy have allowed cities to transcend local resource capacities, requiring material inputs from far-flung localities and financing through obscure fiscal mechanisms that lie only within the imaginations of stock market traders and laissez-faire economists. For example, the densely populated metropolis of Hong Kong depends almost exclusively on imported goods from around the world to meet its daily material and energy demands. The average citizen consumes about 3.7 hectares of terrestrial and marine ecosystems annually, resulting in Hong Kong relying on an area over 2200 times its size to sustain itself18. The inflows that stay within urban areas become part of the urban ecosystem in the form of landfills, wastewater treatment plants and physical infrastructure19 while the outflows are exported back to the 18


Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

Urbanization in Crisis

AN URBAN EXODUS There is an apparent paradox, as for instance in São Paulo (BR), between the population decentralization processes underway and the inertia of migratory trajectories that continue to feed its significant number of immigrants. “The big issue is that the flexibility of the migratory trajectories, especially those originating in the Northeast conform to the narrow limits imposed by regional and social imbalances of contemporary Brazilian society” 20 . The Metropolitan Region of São Paulo, nonetheless, deserves special mention for its negative net migration, caused by continued population decentralization toward the periphery. Interstate immigration is almost completely offset by emigration. São Paulo’s great urban crisis, resulting from a lack of equitable economic and social opportunities and inherent social and spatial segregation, has eventually pushed Brazilians to the countryside or to other states, taking potential capital away from the city center toward the metropolitan periphery. The migratory retention capacity of the city has declined significantly and is far from recovering. Many people have migrated from São Paulo to Campo Grande (the young capital of Mato Grosso do Sul) and also Florianopolis (the paradisiac capital of the State of Santa Catarina). Additionally, an increased amount of professionals have left São Paulo for the less developed yet rapidly growing region of Nordeste because of increased job opportunities and the higher quality of life there in terms of access to nature, lower levels of traffic congestion, and air pollution. Regardless, people still continue to commute to São Paulo and other megapolises for work, family, and access to urban amenities. One of the conclusions of Brazil’s 2010 Census was that middle-sized cities are the great vedetes (Portuguese saying) of urban growth. Small cities are too dull and lack economic vitality, while huge cities are becoming increasingly unlivable 21 .


SHRUNK Cidades que encolheram This map shows the change in the total population of each municipality in Brazil between 2000 and 2013

Increased 20


Founded after 2000 21

Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

Urbanization in Crisis

hinterlands and distant localities as pollutants and consumer products. Some studies and scientific fields like industrial ecology have framed these material and energy inflows and outflows as a city’s ‘urban metabolism’. Furthermore, many mega cities with over 10 million inhabitants have reached their growth limit, leading to an increased migration to smaller cities and suburbs nearby.



RESISTANCE 2014 saw an upsurge in protests and demonstrations that advocated for global action against climate change. The People’s Climate March in New York City had over 311,000 participants and involved over 1,500 schools, NGOs, churches, and community and environmental justice organizations, making it the largest climate change march in history. Top: New York City, 2014 Right: Washington D.C., 2013 Bottom: London, 2014

In 2012, Brad Werner, a pink-haired complex systems scientist from the University of California-San Diego, had a much buzzed about session at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union that was aptly titled, “Is Earth F**ked? : Dynamical Futility of Global Environmental Management and Possibilities for Sustainability via Direct Action Activism”. Stripping away the esoteric terminology and methods of complex systems theory, his model showed that global capitalism has made the depletion of resources so rapid, convenient and barrier-free that ‘earth-human systems’ are becoming dangerously unstable as a result22. Rather than being led by his research into activism or creating a model with any preconceived ideological notions, his results are part a growing trend within the climate science community calling for increasingly radical and potentially revolutionary solutions, such as a switch from Value Added Tax (VAT) to Carbon Added Tax (CAT)23, to combat climate change. Werner’s model infers that ‘positions of resistance’ taken from outside the dominant culture—as in protests, blockades and sabotage by indigenous peoples, workers, anarchists and other activist groups—offer the best chance of altering our business-as-usual path. The alarming realties of climate change, biodiversity loss and resource scarcity might at this point seem quite banal to reiterate for even the somewhat news literate, but it cannot be stressed enough. The number of wild animals on earth has halved in only 50 years24. The latest IPCC report has concluded with 95 percent certainty that humans are the main culprit behind climate change, and if we continue to release greenhouse gasses at current rates (not including potential future increases) there will be an inevitable warming of 1.6°C to 2.6°C within the next two to three decades and a 2.6°C and 4.8°C by 2100 compared to 2013 baseline temperatures. The vast majority of cities being situated along coastal areas or deltas will put 60 percent of the global population at risk from rising sea levels. While only covering about 2 percent of the earth’s crust, cities consume about 75 percent of the world’s energy resources and produce 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions25. Conversely, urban citizens, especially in developed



Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

Urbanization in Crisis

countries, have carbon footprints that are up to 40 percent smaller than their rural or suburban counterparts3. Studies by the International Institute for Environment and Development and the Brookings Institute have calculated that the carbon footprint of the average Londoner was approximately half that of the average Briton’s, while a Sao Paolo resident produced just 18% of the average Brazilian’s carbon emissions26. This indicates that cities are the locus of the problems and possibly—though it might be extremely difficult to pull off—the solution to alleviating the affects of anthropogenic climate change. The level of trust between nations to combat climate change has come into question as climate summits in Kyoto, Rio and Copenhagen have indicated that the willingness to put the environment before economic concerns is extremely low27. Cities, on the other hand, have taken the lead with organizations like the international C40 group and the Dutch Platform31. The C40 group publishes the sustainability goals and accompanying projects of 40 cities from around the world. For example, Buenos Aires aims to reduce emissions by a third by 2030 while Madrid and Chicago want to cut emissions by 50 percent and 80 percent respectively by 205028. Words, ambitions and the setting of goals aren’t the problem—it’s the lack of sustained political follow through.

LIMITS TO URBAN GROWTH 54 percent of the earth’s 7 billion human inhabitants currently reside in cities. By midcentury, the UN projects that world population will increase to 9.3 billion and urbanization rates to 66 percent, approaching the actual average densities found in Europe29. Driven by soaring levels of economic prosperity, 95 percent of urban growth from this point on will occur in emerging markets found in Africa, Asia, and South America where the combined urban population is expected to reach 5.3 billion by 2050. By this time, 63 percent of the global urban population will be living in Asia and 25 percent will be living in Africa26. While economic growth over the last 20 years has cut extreme poverty rates worldwide by half, developing countries are beginning to go through many of the same urban problems experienced by Western countries during the 19th century30. The golden age of industry-led economic expansion, urban squalor and wealth inequality that inspired the classic novels Les Misérables and Oliver Twist has in some ways been exported to developing economies where wages are lower and workers rights and environmental laws are more leniently applied. Rates of migration to cities in emerging markets are much higher than their infrastructures can handle, leading to a lack of proper housing, high levels of traffic congestion, poor air quality, 24






>> Kibera is the largest slum in Nairobi, and the largest urban slum in all of Africa 25

Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

> cities accelerate economic transformation because of their intense population density, which encourages social and economic interactions with greater ‘social friction’ than non-urban settings

Urbanization in Crisis

inadequate sewage systems and water treatment, and insufficient presence of law enforcement. Despite these trends, certain advantages exist for developing countries over developed ones: their fast-growing cities can skip developmental phases by immediately implementing renewable energy technologies and ‘smart’ infrastructure. Countries in the global north on the other hand are experiencing a much tougher transition because existing infrastructures are already of a relatively high quality, much less sustainable, and difficult to retrofit31. Imbalances between labor and the availability of housing can result in both suburbanization and gentrification, indicating that it is indeed possible for cities to experience the aforementioned problems associated with economic growth and urban decay (i.e. degeneration of housing stock and infrastructure and a loss of population, tax base, and economic activity) simultaneously. For this reason, it is predicted that by midcentury 2 billion people in developing countries will be living in informal settlements32. In some developing economies and mega-cities, like Mexico City, São Paulo and Beijing, urbanization has already taken hold, while established urban agglomerations found throughout Europe and the US are expected to grow until about 2025. Urban morphology within this context tends to lean towards polycentric structures. Despite experiencing slow economic growth and a tightening of national budgets because of economic austerity, wealth, infrastructure and technical expertise are expected to help the west better cope with future uncertainties more effectively as they arise. Ultimately, all cities are looking for ways to increase the qualities of their urban ingenuity33. Cities accelerate economic transformation because of their intense population density, which encourages social and economic interactions with greater ‘social friction’ than non-urban settings. Cities need metropolitan solutions and networked environments. Moreover, they can help each other by forging knowledge sharing networks.

>> San Francisco residents protesting Google’s buses, which sometimes block municipal buses from following their designated routes.



Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

Networked Environments

“ civilization advances by extending

the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them. � Alfred Whitehead


n e tw o r ke d e n v I r o n m e n ts



Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

Networked Environments

<< A (partial) map of the internet as it was in 2005. Each node represents an IP address, and the lines between the nodes indicate the delay between the two addresses.

as cItIes grow in complexity and their infrastructures become more networked, they invariably become increasingly integral to the functioning of daily life of city dwellers and, most importantly, fragile to disruptive systemic changes. Therefore, the planning of their forms and services must adapt to the needs of present and future urban dwellers as well as predicted shifts in environmental baseline conditions. Systems thinking as it is applied in urbanism is a considerable branch of what has been addressed to as ‘Complexity Theories of Cities’34 and the ‘new science of cities’35. The systems thinking approach presents problems of complexity as more than issues of efficiency or their most obvious causes and effects and reframes them into the language of relations, structures, meta processes, and even humanistic concerns. While thinking in systems is useful in understanding the formal structural characteristics of complex (urban) systems, by itself it holds little regard for the environmental implications of networks and the role and use of data driven change. As a consequence, it may be argued that the predominant view that the built environment and nature are diametrically opposed entities drastically increases the vulnerability of urban environments in face of unforeseen shocks36. The challenge, however, is not in stopping disruptive changes—a task that has repeatedly proven to be impossible—but in understanding them as they occur and, ultimately, improving the capacity of urban environments to adapt and assimilate disruptions as a combined urban-natural system in dynamic equilibrium3. Considering the increase in weather perturbations resulting from climate change, our constantly increasing demand for energy, water, and material resources, and predictions that the planet is entering a period of scarcity, responses 30


Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

to disruptive change, vulnerability, complexity and dependence are essential to planning future urban growth3. Massive population growth and increased rates of urbanization over the past two centuries have contributed to the increased frequency and magnitude of ecological, economic and social shocks encountered by today’s urban environments. The full extent of the consequences of these shocks is even today difficult to determine. The major stressors in life, especially in anxiogenic situations, are uncontrollability and unpredictability37. A typical counter-reaction to these stressors is an attempt to gain a sense of control and predictability through the (usually unconscious) establishment of safety rituals in the form strictly practiced emergency routines (e.g. evacuation procedures)39. However, these kinds of ideas have only recently entered the core of public and scientific discourses. This new attention reflects the fact that several recent crisis events, such as consecutive record hot summers in the US and Europe, droughts throughout the American Southwest, Africa, South America, and Australia, and the harrowing levels of smog that encase Chinese cities in the winter have brought to the fore complex environmental issues scarcely studied before and for which society is not really well prepared. On the other hand, the processes of globalization, urbanization and the consequent rise of trans-national urban networks enhanced by the proliferation of information and communication technologies (ICT) illustrates the strong interdependencies between various sectors of society and the economies of the global north and south—especially in times of crisis. As such, the growth and densification of the interdependencies between cities increases their vulnerability to potentially uncontrollable cascading effects40.

>> Wildfires in California, exacerbated by increasingly frequent and severe droughts.

Networked Environments

>> The recent heat wave in Australia was so hot that koalas were approaching humans for water.

WICKED PROBLEMS ICTs can be understood as an umbrella term that includes integrated audio/visual systems, information technology, telecommunications, portable computers, the Internet, smartphones, software, middleware, data storage and basically any communications technology that enables users to access, store, transmit and manipulate information41. To be sure, while many of the physical and infrastructural aspects of cities seem superficially manageable through technology, most issues they are facing are in fact social and economic, also known as ‘wicked problems’. Wicked problems are situations that cannot be solved by a board of central planners or top-down mechanisms of control42. The key benefit of new communication technologies in improving the sustainability and overall quality of urban environments is their ability to allow people to be more social in tandem with other technologies that improve comfort, efficiency, responsiveness, flexibility and reduce costs. 32

>> Smog thickens throughout Beijing, China


Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

Networked Environments

ICTs give institutions, companies and individuals with similar goals and aspirations (e.g. resilience and sustainability) the means of sharing ideas, having conversations and organizing accordingly. It is important that any new institutional arrangements should be made in close agreement with all actors— especially urban dwellers—involved43. If such systems are not inclusive, people might start to feel that it is useless to take action. Within such an outlook, new institutional arrangements are required to cope with the use of ICT and physical environment related problems. In fact, it puts a greater emphasis on finding alternative ways of organizing social and physical infrastructures. Infrastructure investments can act as agents of change that reflect, reproduce and alter social, economic, and environmental relations in urban space. Urban infrastructure constitutes the physical structure as well as the urban and metropolitan functions of greatest permanency in cities and yet, in its current form, it is neither sensitive nor suitable to new perspectives on spatial, social, technological, political, and ecological change. Another approach to networked environments and the use of small, decentralized clusters has been investigated thoroughly in the field of mathematics and is often related to the geometry of the World Wide Web and the Internet. Tuning and adjustment (optimization) of quality, demand and supply doesn’t just need smart networks, they require ‘intelligent network design’. The new science of networks is called complexity theory. Evolving in the last two decades, it portrays complex systems in terms of connected nodes. Most studies of complex networks tend to focus on networks whose nodes are not dynamic agents. The nodes of human networks (e.g. cities), per contra, are dynamic cognitive agents, each of which is itself a complex system and network. Human and in particular urban networks are the resulted outcome of multiple interactions between agents that, at least in theory, ‘think globally and act locally’. In this way, the local activities and interaction of agents give rise to the interdependencies between multiple social and physical urban networks that in turn affects the agents’ cognition, behavior, movement and actions in circular causality. Today, every strata of infrastructure that has enveloped the globe with each leap in technological progress has either incorporated or disrupted the layers that preceded it, compressing both time and space in the process. We scurried from farms and villages into factories and cities, but then one day, for some of us, the factories closed and we stepped out into a world encased in a ubiquitous network of deep-sea fiber-optic cables, cellphone towers and communications satellites. This seamless and invisible infrastructure now connects new phyla of digital organisms—from handheld black mirrors with wireless access to the entire 34

> every strata of infrastructure that has enveloped the globe with each leap in technological progress has either incorporated or disrupted the layers that preceded it

corpus of human knowledge to teapots that only work when the electricity grid is off-peak—transmitting and receiving data in the form of invisible microwave energy beams that permeate the human body and every crevice of the built environment. The secure, yet monotonous 9-to-5 work week and the industrial work space has been replaced by temporary contracts, freelance labor, tech startups, and footloose multinationals and hedge funds that pay fealty only to the laws of capital accumulation wherever in the world it may lead them. Society is entering the most disrupting inflection point in its history as our world has become defined by the ‘ubikquity’ and automation of ICTs. Reflecting upon modernity, mathematician and philosopher Alfred Whitehead dutifully concluded that, “Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them44.” 35

Ubikquity & the Illuminated City



u b I kq uI ty



Ubikquity & the Illuminated City


<< The original cover of Ubik, a novel published in 1969 by Philip K. Dick.

prevent other psychics hired by rival firms from stealing valuable company secrets. At certain point, the very basis of reality begins to fall apart and the only thing that may (or may not) restore it to normal is canned substance called Ubik. Readers for decades were puzzled as to the exact nature of Ubik, but Dick’s former wife Tessa said that: Ubik is a metaphor for God. Ubik is all-powerful and all-knowing, and Ubik is everywhere. The spray can is only a form that Ubik takes to make it easy for people to understand it and use it. It is not the substance inside the can that helps them, but rather their faith in the promise that it will help them. 46 Ubikquity will serve as a powerful dual metaphor throughout this book and is defined thusly:


0 5 bik 5 5 0

noun 01 The global infrastructure and ecology of ICTs. 02 Absolute faith in the power of ICTs (e.g, sophisticated algorithms, cloud computing and data mining) to create ready-made solutions to complex social problems.

‘ubIk’ in the word ubikquity is derived from the Latin word ubique, meaning everywhere, and is also the title of a 1969 reality-bending novel by the acclaimed science fiction master Philip K. Dick45. To explain the novel is challenge within itself, but essentially, the story takes place in a future where technology has advanced to the point where psychic phenomenon is commonplace and the concept of privacy has become increasingly anachronistic. In order to remain competitive, corporations must pay teams of psychics to 38

The notion that the anthrosphere is part of an overall network of natural and artificial systems can be traced back at least to the work of H.T. Odum in the 1960s47. On this basis, Kristinsson48 in 1989 distinguished a stack with four components that build up our environmental system: the abiotic component, the biotic component, the technical component and the physical component. Some years later, McDonach and Yaneske indirectly correlated the stack layers to the four ‘states of sustainability’49. 39

Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

e th acK st To get a better grasp of how Ubikquity has and will continue to affect the anthrosphere, philosopher and design theorist Benjamin Bratton recently proposed a model he calls ‘The Stack’. In Bratton’s technology-focused stack, instead of viewing the various scales and aspects of ubikquitous computer technology as a random collection of devices, individual processes and standards (i.e. conflict minerals, energy grids, IPv6 protocol, RFID, Bluetooth, cloud storage, the Internet of Things, augmented reality, and smart cities), he models them as interconnected components of a larger, comprehensive meta-technology50. In an attempt to conceive this ‘totality’ of planetary scale computation, this software and hardware ‘stack’ is divided into 7 interdependent layers: Earth, Cloud, City, Network, Address, Interface and User. Bratton in a way uses aspects from older stack concepts but inverts them by reducing emphasis on the biosphere and focusing on the interactions of users within technological systems and their accompanying objects and artifacts.




For Bratton, the stack challenges our traditional understanding of physical layering, notions of sovereignty, political geography and the legal jurisdiction of nation-states and translates them to ‘geo-political structures of planetary computation’. In doing so he connects the future focus of urban development to Benjamin Barber’s plea for a world ruled by cities51. To illustrate what geo-political dramas within the stack might entail, he cites the convoluted nature of the Sino-Google conflicts of 2008 and the NSA hacking scandal of 2013 as examples. Initially, the Chinese government hacked Google in an attempt to maintain its Internet filtering system known colloquially as The Great Firewall. In response, Google pulled out of China while all along the NSA was hacking into the servers of every major American-based IT company, the Chinese government, various NGOs, and the cellphones and emails of a number of prominent international political figures. As Bratton notes, “Google continues to ghost- write technical manuals for American intelligence agencies while circumventing the last instances of state oversight altogether, not by transgressing them but by absorbing them into its service offering.52” Though abstract, the stack model serves as a useful guide to contextualize the smart city imaginary within the constantly shifting and multiscalar dilemmas of ubikquity and urban planning.












Based on Bratton’s Stack concept







A day In the life of haggard protagonist Joe chip as he wakes up in his mockingly intelligent, pay- per-use welcome to PK Dick's apartment...........


Ubikquity & the Illuminated City


05 techno- austerIty



Ubikquity & the Illuminated City



One of the robots recently purchased by Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn

the dIsruptIve changes brought about by the digital age parallel those of the industrial age, where in its infancy it was met with both awe and speculation. In 1779, Ned Ludd famously destroyed two mechanical knitting machines in protest to what he viewed as a threat to his livelihood, introducing the Luddite movement, humanity’s first stance against technological change. As we know now, industrialization did not destroy labor but instead shifted it from handcrafted goods to mechanical mass production, and despite increased levels of productivity, technology required the careful maintenance and watchful eye of humans to actually work. J. Bradford Delong, professor of economics at the University of California at Berkeley, wrote for every machine that was introduced that outperformed human hands, there was an increase in the demand of complimentary human skills (i.e. eyes, ears, and brain power)53. He points out however that there is no natural or economic law that ensures that technology will always create new jobs ad infinitum. Today, ubikquity’s effect on labor is only beginning to take hold. According to a study by Oxford University’s Programme on the Future Impact of Technology, 47 percent of employment in the US and Europe has a high risk of being automated (i.e. computerized) within the next 20 years56. The first jobs to go are those within the fields of transportation/logistics, production labor, and administrative support. This might also include jobs in services, sales, and construction. This will be followed by a ‘technological plateau’ stage, where jobs in management, science and engineering, and even the arts will be at risk. The authors concluded, “…our findings thus imply that as technology races ahead, low-skill workers will reallocate to tasks that are non-susceptible to computerization—i.e., tasks that require creative and social intelligence. For workers to win the race, however, they will have to acquire creative and social skills.” 46


Ubikquity & the Illuminated City


CAPITAL-BIASED TECHNICAL CHANGE As the costs of capital investments (machinery or other productivity enhancing technology) have fallen since the 70’s, labor and capital investments have become substitutable57. Corporations all around the world have been quick to replace workers with technology. In Asia, even the infamous Taiwanese multinational Foxconn—known as much for assembling most the smart phones, laptops, and video game consoles purchased worldwide as it is for the safety nets installed around the perimeter of its manufacturing plants to save workers from leaping to their deaths—has recently purchased 10,000 robots, first in a disruptive wave that will eventually replace its swelling army of 1.3 million workers58. This trend can also be extrapolated to the cities of Detroit and Manchester, who as manufacturing hubs were some of the most prosperous cities in the US and UK respectively throughout most of the 20th century. While consistently incorporating new technologies that increased the efficiency and output of industry, both saw the destruction of its industrial base over the last three decades. Why? Business in both cities failed to produce new jobs opportunities that could replace those that were already being eroded by technological change and globalization. Instead of taking advantage of new technological and business opportunities that could generate new products and opportunities for employment, they chose profit first, increasing factory productivity through automation and displacing labor. Overall, though, Manchester has fared far better than Detroit in shifting to a creative/ knowledge-based economy since the collapse of industry.

#BYEKODAK Increased penetration of technologies into work previously undertaken by humans has led the IMF to stress the emergence of ‘employment polarization’, or simultaneous growth of high-wage, high-education, high-skill occupations and low-wage, loweducation, low-skilled conventional occupations at the expense of the middle 54. One only has to look to the sad story of Kodak to see the disruptive nature of technological change. At its height, Kodak employed 150,000 workers and was worth $28 billion. In a curious twist of irony, the company that invented the digital camera today is bankrupt and has been replaced by the new face of handheld digital photography, Instagram, a company with a grand total of 13 employees for an active user group of 300 million, that was recently sold to Facebook for $1 billion. One cannot lament the death of a corporate entity that could not conform to the needs of the new economy for too long, but seriously, what happened to all those middle class jobs? In San Francisco, the city that has been at the heart of the internet revolution since its inception, restaurant workers have been lobbying the local government to increase minimum wage to $15 an hour because many already rely on welfare and cannot afford to live in the city despite working well above 45 hours a week 55 . In response, the restaurant industry and conservative groups have threatened to replace restaurant workers with iPads. 48


Ubikquity and IntelligenCITIES

<< Riot police called to action during the protests in Greece in 2010 - 2012

A UNION IN CRISIS << A pro-Novorossiya (New Russia) rally in Ukraine

<< Scottish nationalists at Scotland’s

first annual Independence Rally in 2012


The 2008 global banking crisis caused economic growth in developed economies to stagnate, while in the EU, austerity has left millions in its southern and periphery member states with unsustainably high levels of unemployment, especially amongst the youth. Lack of tax revenues has sent national and municipal governments reeling as a sense of hopelessness amongst citizens has led to increased speculation in the EU and a sharp rise in participation in separatists movements and nationalist political parties 63 ,64 . The current crisis—caused primarily by unsustainable levels of state debt, lax banking regulations, and hedge funds utilizing mammoth computer servers, highly complex algorithms, and privately-owned dark fiber internet networks to trade on stock markets around the world at the speed of light—has coincided with increased income inequality and labor being digitized and/or shipped to developing markets. Additionally, the lack of state funds has forced municipalities to take on a ‘do more with less’ attitude 27 .

This decline in the labor pool is what economic journalist Eduardo Porter calls ‘capital-biased technical change’. He points to research by economists Paul Beaudry, David Green and Benjamin Sand that shows how the demand for highly skilled workers in the United States peaked around 2000 and then fell, despite growth in supply57. This moved the highly educated down the ladder of skills in search of jobs, pushing less-educated workers even further down. As ICT becomes more ubikquitous it will continue to take on more low-skill jobs previously done by human beings. Despite these apparently dire developments on the techno-economic-labor front, we do not condone a neo-luddite insurrection to mass delete our Amazon, Gmail and Facebook accounts and proselytize on the streets about the impending robotled apocalypse. Globalization inspired by neo-liberal economics has lifted billions from poverty, yet simultaneously income inequality is soaring in the industrialized world. In his very controversial yet highly acclaimed book Capitalism in the 21st Century, French economist Thomas Piketty has seriously questioned the long held view within free market capitalism—exemplified by the Kuznets curve—that wealth inequality will naturally stabilize and decrease on its own accord. According to his findings, current economic forces are concentrating more and more wealth into the hands of a fortunate few. Using 51

Ubikquity & the Illuminated City


data sets from dozens of countries over hundreds of years, he concluded that the rate of return on capital investments (e.g. machinery, land, financial instruments and real-estate) is usually higher than economic growth. Furthermore, he states that the existence of the middle-class is not a natural tendency of the free market but rather a historical abnormality59. According to Piketty, the post WWII middle class in Europe and the U.S. was the result of two events: the destruction of European inherited wealth during the war and higher taxes on the rich. This brought wealth and income from the top down and raised working people up into a middle class. Looking at the state of the world today, his findings are not that far off. Deregulation of the markets and reductions in income and investment taxes have led to the top 10 percent of earners (particularly the .1 and .001 percent) in the U.S. to have more wealth (adjusted for inflation) than they did in 1913, at the height of the age of robber barons. On a global scale, the richest 85 people on the planet own as much as the poorest half of the world population60. Though not as radical in the EU, income inequality has also increased considerably in the UK, France, Germany, and even Sweden and the Netherlands56,61,62.

COMPETITIVE CITIES AND CROBOS As shown with the C40 group, cities’ economic interdependence and decentralized governance allow for rapid and responsive change65 that puts them on the forefront of experimenting with and adopting progressive environmental policies. Cities must also conform to the needs of neo-liberal economic paradigm as they are forced to compete with one another for the attention of globetrotting investment capital and a growing class of crobos—a portmanteau of creative and hobo, i.e. mobile creative talent—in lieu of automation, unemployment and economic austerity. In general, the most successful cities have: stable and solid public finances; low and competitive taxation; simple and transparent business regulations; strong and impartial rule of law; openness to international trade and foreign investment; a welcoming environment for foreign talent; good proximity and ‘hard connectivity’ such as roads, transit systems, ports, and airports; 52


0 Ƅ 5 Ƅ 0

noun, plural crobos 01

a portmanteau of creative and hobo


mobile creative talent 53


and good ‘soft connectivity’ through education, high-skilled laborer opportunities, technological diffusion, and ‘hyper caffeinated’ innovation66.

<< Many fast-growing eastern cities constantly emulate aspects of western culture in architecture, media, and way of life. An example of this is the Tokyo Tower (bottom), which is an obvious homage to the Eiffel Tower (top).

The resulting urban enclaves are preferably compact, transitaccessible and highly networked. They should also attract talent, foster open collaboration, offer mixedused housing, office, and retail space and 21st century urban amenities. As such, the intersection of urban life and technology is key along with more traditional aspects of liberal societies such as equity, equality and democracy67.

vernacular in order to seize a cosmopolitan future defined by the Euro-American cultural perspective. From a citizen’s perspective however, this might not be the most desirable developmental path. On the one hand, they value transparent, accountable and responsive governance in a geographic space to which they can relate. But on the other hand, this may lead increasingly to their identification with the cities they live in, providing them with a stronger sense of belonging, and thus a need to be different. This is encapsulated by statements within the context of the so-called ‘creative’ city imaginary by the equally lauded and criticized ‘creative guru’ Richard Florida, who said that, “the decision where to live becomes the most important decision in your life32.”

Until recently, academic research that compared cities in different countries has been marked by a rigid divide between the global north and the global south, reflecting embedded assumptions about the incommensurability of cities in more or less developed parts of the world. These assumptions are now being challenged because comparisons between cities of the south with those of the north are usually based on the transfer of policies or ‘lessons’ from the latter to the former68,69. Comparisons should be based on equal terms with regard to what can be learned from the experience of each and the potential for ‘policy mobility’70 in any direction between them. Worryingly, many of the fastest growing cities in developing countries are attempting to emulate western development schemes, eschewing local culture and 54

Cities are constantly being ranked for liveability, happiness, cultural capital and creativity. However, it is constant innovation that stands out as the key stimulus for longevity in economic competitiveness71. Perhaps the greatest validation of the shift towards so-called urban innovation districts is found in the efforts of traditional exurban science parks (like in the Netherlands Technopolis Delft, Hightech Campus Eindhoven, and Sciencepark Amsterdam) that urbanize according to their workers desire for walkable communities and the preference of participating firms to be near each other for collaboration opportunities. Where some cities have gained recognition in innovation through short-term booms such as Helsinki and Dubai City, the more dominant global cities like London, Singapore, Paris and New York have maintained high levels of innovation and retained their prominence over time. Several scholars have suggested that the key characteristic of leading world cities is that they attract the best and brightest minds13,14,72. As home to the creative classes, which consist of professionals working in knowledge-based industries, cities are the bedrocks of prosperity and drivers of innovation. They not only provide unrivaled educational and professional opportunities, but also the best entertainment facilities such as art galleries, theaters and restaurants73. Through hard and soft infrastructure, high value residents of these cities enjoy a seamless connectivity that fosters human creativity and prosperity. As cities desperately compete to attract crobos and investment capital, phrases like ‘smart growth’, ‘intelligent cities’, ‘digital cities’, ‘e-cities’ and ‘smarter cities’ have become increasingly popular within the IT, policy and urban planning fields as potential solutions to ‘urban (in)efficiencies’. Public and private stakeholders have 55

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taken an urban-centric position in hopes of initiating a leapfrogging effect with respect to sustainability (the ‘Sustainable’ City), efficient infrastructure and resource use (the ‘Smart’ City), improved equity and government transparency (the ‘Just’ City), quality of life (the ‘Healthy’ City), and increased levels of technological innovation and urban dynamics (the ‘Creative’ City) amongst others. Municipal governments want to increase urban resilience and support of their (knowledge) economy with the inclusion of ‘smart’ systems and other (considered) benefits to attract and strengthen the innovation/ technology (education) sector. All metropolitan areas worldwide face the same question: how to ensure a high quality of urban life and the sustainability and resilience of our vital systems that provide energy, water, food, materials, mobility and communication? As Ubikquity has been on the forefront of disrupting nearly every facet of the global economy, can it disrupt potential urban crises and take our cities into the future? Or, alternatively, is it a corporate schema that will reinforce and magnify the systemic inequalities that plague cities today?


Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

Rise of the Smart Cities

06 rIse of the smart cIt Ies



Rise of the Smart Cities

the theoretIcal


An urban metabolism as illustrated by Dirk Sijmons and Jutta Raith


basis for smart cities can be pinpointed to the halls of MIT, where in the aftermath of WWII mathematician Norbert Weiner gave birth to the field of cybernetics. Cybernetics can be understood as transdisciplinary field that uses sensing and feedback to model systems and their structures for the purpose of organization and efficient control46. Within cybernetics, all systems—machines, corporations, cities, animals—could be interpreted as a balanced network of data flows whose components can be represented by a set of equations and processed in a computer simulation that emulates complex system behavior. After putting data into a computer, an analyst could use this generalized model of reality and make system predictions by changing inputs and observing the impacts. First used to organize the US’ SAGE air defense system, Weiner’s contemporary Jay Forrester used his expertise in modeling resource flows and stockpiles of industrial systems to publish Urban Dynamics, where he applied cybernetics to try and solve the most pressing problems facing American cities74. Rather than looking at any particular city, the book attempted formulate a generic systems model of cities that could be applied anywhere.


Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

Rise of the Smart Cities

The hype around the book landed Forrester a contract with the city of Pittsburgh, where his team was tasked with creating computer simulations that would forecast how changes in public spending would influence policy decisions in transportation, land use and social services. Sadly, the model was too simplistic and misguided, rendering its findings ineffectual74. By the 70’s, planning scholars moved away from embracing these generalized, all encompassing predictive simulations of cities. 30 years later, computer power has increased by six orders of magnitude and the largest IT companies have decided to give cybernetics another shot. In their eyes, in order for cities to meet the challenges of the future gracefully, they will need the help of ubikquity. The smart city imaginary truly surfaced in the midst of the financial crisis in 2008, when IBM CEO Sam Palmisano gave a speech titled “A smarter planet: The next leadership agenda”75. With markets around the world crashing, he argued that the only way cities will be able to cope is to be ‘smarter’ by becoming more sustainable and economically efficient. Not to long after that, IBM trademarked the ‘Smarter Cities’ moniker for its worldwide advertising campaign to promote ICT as a solution to urban problems. IBM is not alone in this game, with the largest IT firms on the planet like Siemens, Cisco, Schneider Electric, Hitachi, Accenture, Toshiba, General Electric, Microsoft, Oracle, Capgemini, SAP and few start up companies—some with fuzzy profiles—vying for market share while municipalities are still trying to figure out the exact benefits of getting ‘smart’. Using their innovations and experiences with cybernetics in military planning and the private sector, IT companies have set their sights on the untapped smart city market that is estimated to be worth €1.2 trillion by 202075. IBM, Cisco and Siemens have now shifted to offering full scale contracting to municipal and local governments with flagship projects in Rio and Singapore and completely designed smart city development projects such as Songdo in South Korea and Masdar City in the UAE. On the other hand, the public perceives the smart city imaginary primarily through TV commercials, news headlines, and corporate advertising at airports and metro stops. Marketeers tend to throw the word ‘smart’ around generously to entice consumers without its benefits being explained in a comprehensible and/ or meaningful way. Additionally, urban planners, sociologists, anthropologists, ecologists, architects and other urban science professionals are trying to express their expertise on urban phenomenon and incorporate their divergent knowledge and skill sets on key issues outside of the mental map emerging from the smart city imaginary. As the world continues to shift its attention to cities, local and national governments have allocated billions in funding targeted at various ‘smart’ projects, sparking new academic endeavours in many of the world’s most prominent 62


Through its Smarter City Challenge program, IBM has given free IT consulting to over 100 municipalities and 2000 cities around the globe in hopes of attracting investment in their ‘smart city in a box’ solutions 77 . For what its worth, it’s paid off handsomely as IBM’s annual income from smart city consulting fees is about $3 billion, representing about 25 percent of the company’s annual revenue 75 .

Top, left: ads doubling as functional objects, part of IBM’s Smarter Cities advertising campaign.


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Rise of the Smart Cities

. . . A N D TO U N D E R E S TI M AT E T H E RO LE O F C H A N C E I N E V E N TS . Daniel Kahneman

universities and research institutions. So what exactly makes a city ‘smart’? According to urban theorists Hollands and Vanolo, the smart city discourse was heavily influenced by the New Urbanism concept of ‘smart growth’ developed in the United States and the intelligent city imaginary developed by Komninos, who defines ‘intelligent’ cities and regions as territories with high capacity for learning and innovation and creativity ‘built-in’ their population, their institutions of knowledge creation, and their digital infrastructure for communication and knowledge management78,86.

SMART VERSUS INTELLIGENT The word ‘smart’ in this case is the American equivalent of intelligent. Taken literally, it excludes real cognitive applications and should be interpreted more like a quick and automatic analytical intelligence. This relates to the concept of System I thinking as elucidated by Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman’s work in cognitive science, behavioural economics and prospect theory79 where he distinguishes the approaches to (intelligent) judgment and choice of two theoretical agents (or systems, viz. System I and System II). In an attempt to explain the heuristics of judgement, Kahneman’s work elaborates on the distinction between automatic operations (System I) and controlled operations (System II). He demonstrated how associative memory with self-reinforcing reciprocities and the halo effect80 are based upon suppressed ambiguities. Associative memory continually constructs a coherent interpretation of what is going on in our world at any instant, influencing the automatic and often unconscious processes that underlie intuitive thinking. Or as Kahneman puts it, “The insight of a puzzling limitation of our mind is our excessive confidence in what we believe we know, and our apparent inability to 64

acknowledge the full extent of our ignorance and the uncertainty of the world we live in.” Later, he states, “We are prone to overestimate how much we understand about the world and to underestimate the role of chance in events81.” According to Kahneman, in today’s world terrorists are the most significant practitioners of the art of inducing availability cascades. In contrast (or in addition) to smart, intelligence comes from the Latin word ‘intelligentia’, or the ability to acquire, interpret, and apply knowledge. Something with intelligence has the ability to think (process) and understand instead of doing things automatically or by instinct. Thus, the proper definition of smart should put an emphasis on interpretation and application. Intelligence actually is considered as “a natural (innate) general cognitive ability to reason all substantial processes in a conventional way82”. It connects more to System II thinking, the cognitive response, which allocates attention to the effortful mental activities that demand it, including complex computations. Stephan Hawking once said that intelligence is the ability to adapt to change, connecting it strongly to the notion of resilience. When made less personified, intelligence should mean something that has the ability to vary its state or action in response to varying situations and past experiences. For our intents and purposes, the smart city imaginary is part of the contemporary language of urban management and development. In the current dialogue about urban contexts, there is a wide range of overlapping/conflicting city discourses like ‘smart’, ‘intelligent’, ‘innovative’, ‘wired’, ‘digital’, ‘creative’ and ‘cultural’ that connect technologically led information transformations with economic, political and socio-cultural change83. The smart moniker is analogous but not exactly synonymous to the ‘wired’, ‘digital’, ‘informational’ and ‘intelligent’ discourses used within planning literature84. The adjective smart has 65

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Rise of the Smart Cities

WHAT IS A SMART CITY? While no exact definition exists, the most holistic definition of the smart city imaginary distinguishes 6 distinct aspects 86:


ECONOMY Linking to a spirit of innovation, entrepreneurialism, flexibility of the labor market, integration in the international market and the ability to transform.

MOBILITY Referred to local and supra-local accessibility, availability of ICTs, modern, sustainable and safe transport systems.





Related to participation of various stakeholders at various levels in the decision-making processes, transparency of governance systems, the availability of public services and quality of political strategies.

Understood in terms of attractiveness of natural conditions, lack of pollution and sustainable management of resources.





Involving the quality of life, imagined and measured in terms of availability of cultural and educational services, tourist attractions, social cohesion, healthy environment, personal safety and housing. 66


Linked to the level of qualification of human and social capital, flexibility, creativity, tolerance, cosmopolitanism and participation in public life.

an implicit positive connotation that focuses on urban-based innovation and ICT solutions that optimize infrastructures, business and everyday life within cities. For IT companies, the smart city imaginary deals exclusively with technology and hardware. Other urban professionals emphasises governance and services, sustainability and liveability32. On the most basic level, a city is comprised of a government (in some form), people, industry, infrastructure, education and social services. Therefore, a smart city ought to thoughtfully and sustainably pursue development with all of these areas to meet the current and future needs of the urban dwellers85.

SMART SOLUTIONS FOR DUMB DESIGNS Most of the discourse about smart cities has been outside academic circles. Beyond corporate press releases, think tanks like the Institute for the Future and their lead urbanist and technology expert Anthony Townsend have been parsing through the techno hype and forecasting the role of ICT in a world undergoing rapid change. In his book Smart Cities, Townsend concludes that smart cities are ones that utilize ICT solutions—either from IT companies or through bottom-up initiatives—to fix the ‘dumb’ designs of the last century in order to prepare theme from the challenges of the 21st century74. In 1997, the World Forum on Smart Cities suggested over the next few decades that around 50,000 cities and towns around the world would develop smart initiatives84. The increase in smart city initiatives has been made possible in part by a number of technological innovations and shifts in governance frameworks and business models26. Smart technologies like digital sensors, portable computers, and smart phones with onboard cameras and GPS systems have not been the result of radically new innovations per say, but rather incremental developments in miniaturization, increases in computer processing power, and steep drops in manufacturing costs. The way we describe and understand cities is being radically transformed, as are the tools we use to design, plan, and manage them. Smart urban development opens up new opportunities for the emergence of research and development in applied technology at the crossroads of the physical and digital aspects of the urban domain, resulting in solutions that could fundamentally transform or accelerate the development of cities as well as their ability to respond to [disruptive] change. This might involve breakthrough transformations that radically influence spatial qualities, sustainability, comfort and liveability and the flows of the urban metabolism. This focus on urban metabolism and resilience, health, and urban comfort relates from the directly measurable qualities (e.g. body temperature, blood chemistry, etc.) to immeasurable qualities (e.g. quality, delight, pleasure, etc.) 67

Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

TECHNOLOGY > The ongoing evolution of IP and the Internet as an underlying framework for services (i.e. Internet of Things) > Telepresence and videoconferencing > Open application programming interfaces (APIs) > New connectivity technologies, including high-speed fixed, wireless and mobile broadband > Proliferation of smartphones and tablets > Positioning technologies such as GPS > Enhanced cameras and image processing > Machine-to-machine and sensor networks

Rise of the Smart Cities

of well-being. To this end, UN-Habitat has developed a ‘City Prosperity Index’ that translates the five dimensions of prosperity—productivity, infrastructure development, quality of life, equity, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability—into measurable indicators87. This definition of the prosperous city is consistent with the principles of a smart, sustainable and just city. Each smart artifact found in urban space can potentially serve as nodes in a data network for sensing and feedback control. This can range from emergency warning systems and traffic reports that are automatically forwarded to urban dwellers via e-mail or text to crowd-sourced projects that use citizens to identify potholes on city streets with their smartphones. While each of these technologies is useful by themselves, their combined use has the greatest potential for impact. Apart from ICT, it is forecasted that developments in cloud-based services, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Augmented Reality (AR) will have the greatest potential of bringing smart city initiatives to the fore within the next 10 years88.


> Radio-frequency identification (RFID) sensors and near-field communications (NFC) > Augmented reality (AR)

POLICY & BUSINESS FRAMEWORKS > Open data infrastructures > Push for increased data transparency > The crowdsourcing and open source movement > The proliferation of cloud computing services and software-as-service models where businesses and individuals lease instead of own software and/or hardware. > The mash-up model that enables data owners to make data available to third parties

As any user knows, the greatest benefit of owning a smart phone is that it gives you access to the myriad mobile applications (apps) available on the digital marketplace. The Google Earth app, for example, puts the total geography of the planet into your hands with only 29.5MB of space. How? Most of the data storage and information processing occurs in the cloud (i.e. cloud-based services found on servers around the globe). The app in this sense is the thin user-facing membrane of a larger, seemingly invisible cloud platform, bridging physical reality with the millions of services found in the digital ether. Any location with an internet connection—bathroom stalls, 6 o’clock trains, packed elevators, that morning chemistry lecture, boring office meetings—becomes the ad-hoc stage of the various cloud dramas that take place on social media and proximity-based dating services like Tinder. In projecting digitally rendered imagery upon users’ perceptual field-of-vision, Bratton states that AR has the potential to transform urban landscapes into completely customizable experiences using various techniques: the subtitling of objects and real-life events, the superimposition of navigation tools, the overlaying of iconic graphic-user interface menus upon realworld systems, and other artificial visual or auditory feedback systems not yet imagined by the geniuses of silicon valley89.

> The development of a wide range of frameworks such as public-private partnerships and distributed governance.


App interfaces and cloud-based services have already reoriented the way users allocate their attention between actual reality and their tech-enabled curiosities, but augmented reality (AR) apps are rearing up to complete the ubik trinity by 69

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Rise of the Smart Cities

> any location with an internet connection becomes the ad-hoc stage of the various cloud dramas wearable technologies like Google Glass, AR could permanently melt ubikquity and the interfaciality of new media onto physical objects and built environment in ways that would leave Philip K. Dick with sense of incredible awe—or perhaps have him rolling in his grave, there is no way to tell.


EVERYTHING There has been an explosion of crowdfunded projects related to the Internet of Things and smart devices in the past few years. Projects range from surveillance systems to energy monitors to virtual pets whose well being is dependent on the user exercising. Above: a mere handful of hundreds of IoT-related crowdfunding projects that can be found online.


utilizing the on-board cameras and screens of smart devices to superimpose digital interfacial elements into the user’s perceived visual field. In projecting an artificial cinematic layer upon our perceptual field-of-vision, AR has the potential to transform urban landscapes into completely customizable experiences using various techniques: the subtitling of objects and real-life events, the superimposition of navigation tools, the overlaying of iconic graphic-user interface menus upon real-world systems, and other artificial visual or auditory feedback systems not yet imagined by the geniuses of silicon valley89. AR is still in its neophyte stage because mobile technologies still lack the necessary computational power, but given time, the possibilities are endless. Alas, with the advent of

The billions of users and smart devices that are already citizens of Ubikquity are about to be accompanied by many billions more with the ever-swelling Internet of Things (IOT), or as Cisco calls it, Internet of Everything. IOT can refer to a wide range of everyday physical objects with imbedded sensors that gather and stream data into the cloud. This includes but isn’t limited to pacemakers, farm animals with biochips, cars with built-in sensors, smart waste bins that help you separate recyclables, smart thermostats that sense human bodies within the home and adjust ambient temperature, smart cups that track what you drink, and wearable technology like Apple’s iWatch that have Movement Monitor Device (MMD) and Event Monitor Device (EMD) sensors that measure relevant metrics for monitoring user health90. Each web device requires an internet protocol (IP) address that provides identification and location information as it travels through various computer and router networks across the web. With 4.3 billion unique addresses, the IPv4 addressing system, which carries 96 percent of web traffic, has already reached its limit. The latest communications protocol, IPv6, has 3.4 • 1038 unique addresses, more than enough to identify the estimated 26-50 billion sensor-embedded objects that will be around by 202046,91,92. Under IPv6, every human being on earth could theoretically be assigned 4.67 • 1028 unique addresses each. One must ask, are there even enough significant events in ones life that merit being addressed to fill this digital void? How granular will the future of data be? Will it address every letter in every book? How about the DNA sequence of every single-celled organism in the human body that outnumber native cells 10-1? Perhaps even the collective synaptic transmissions of every human brain? It is far too early to tell, but IPv6 is nothing short of the alphabet 71

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Rise of the Smart Cities


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Rise of the Smart Cities

of ubikquity—the passport of future organisms digital, organic, or otherwise, as the anthrosphere careens unimpeded toward the very real possibility of planetaryscale computation. In such a future, applying ‘machine to machine’ applications in ambitious plans like zero net energy districts will significantly alter the relationships between people and urban infrastructures3.

A WORLD OF OPPORTUNITIES Smart infrastructures tend to focus on phenomena that involve easily quantifiable data, such as mobility and transportation, energy generation and exchange, waste and water flows, and law enforcement to improve their overall efficiency. In this way, ICTs can be used to elucidate the so-called ‘flows’ in our society (people, energy, waste/materials, water, food, information). In most cases these elaborations are based on the following starting points (or claims): > Data tied to geography becomes important information. > Data gives the city greater options for faster, more efficient decision making. > Open data is about a connection between citizens and government.

A lot of these smart systems are designed with the environment in mind— from charging stations for electric cars to water-recycling systems that prevent clean drinking water being used to flush office toilets. The idea behind smart projects, like smart energy grids for example, is that data can be used to help make buildings and urban areas more responsive to fluctuations in the grid and, as a second order effect, encourage households, neighborhoods and municipalities to participant in the overall production and distribution of energy to make its use more efficient, reliable and sustainable3,93. The EU has a smart grid policy organized under the Smart Grid European Technology Platform. An actual example of an innovative smart grid in the field is the large-scale ‘i-net’ (a medium and low voltage smart distribution grid that includes advanced fault detection technology, bidirectional communication, demand response technology and advanced software/ICT development) in Amsterdam West by Alliander and the Amsterdam Smart City platform. The project, which plans to connect a total of 40,000 households, is a case study for the EU-funded CityZen research project in which several faculties of TU Delft play a crucial role. Besides energy related smart systems, mobility related innovations are considered the most promising. Examples include simple mobility monitoring and advising via matrix-signing along roads and user interfaces (apps) to concepts that 74

>> A diagram of the smart grid Amsterdam developed by Alliander

and the Amsterdam Smart City platform, the basis of the large EU research project CityZEN in which TU Delft participates

try to cover mobility as a service instead of a product, such as the Oyster card and NS business card. Often connected to the provision of citywide free Wi-Fi (like in New York, Seoul, Barcelona, Sofia, etc.), car mobility is increasingly connected to smart concepts as there is little indication that cars (or individual transport modes) will disappear from cities. Shifts from internal combustion engines to electrical (at first) and later hydrogen-based vehicles offers other opportunities for new synergies in the built environment (besides being more energy efficient and less polluting). The connection of electrical mobility (EVs) with smart energy grids, such as the TU Delft-led research project at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam94 and Stadshavens in Rotterdam95, has recently been the focus of smart research and development in the Netherlands. This research developed a smart grid that can be used to manage grid load more efficiently, enabling both peak shaving and the 75

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Rise of the Smart Cities

<< Amsterdam’s established network of car charging points spreads across the entire city

>> A schematic drawing of a Park&Charge parking facility, part of a research project at TU Delft

effective integration of local renewable energy production. Charging activities of EVs take place in automated ‘Park&Charge’ parking places. By controlling the charging protocols of the vehicles parked at the Park&Charge facility, the grid management system can ensure that peak power is limited, thus mitigating strain on the main transformers. The facility is also equipped with a vehicle-togrid interface, enabling EV batteries to serve as auxiliary energy storage for the electrical grid. The vehicle-to-grid interface supports the integration of locally produced solar energy by charging vehicles at times when solar energy production is high, allowing vehicles to discharge to the grid at times of peak demand.

built from the ground up with Cisco technology as part of its DNA96. Strangely enough, it is already a challenge in South Korea to deliver a smarter city than Koreans are used to because the society already is highly technological. So what makes Songdo so smart? Roads outfitted with sensors that track traffic patterns and predict traffic jams; an electrical grid that uses household sensors to monitor the movements of residents; apartments with sensor-based waste disposal systems that suck trash from the kitchen into vast underground network of tunnels to waste processing centers where it is automatically sorted, deodorized, and treated; sensing of wastewater, energy use and urban climate; and a good amount of parks and green spaces for urban recreation.


Songdo is not without its criticisms as it is said to exclude the poor and working class97. Additionally, many of its innovations are still not fully operational. The latter is due to the fact that the city is only partly in use (less than 20% of the commercial office space was occupied at the beginning of 2014). Despite these drawbacks, every year more and more people are leaving Seoul and moving to Songdo, not necessary for its ‘smartness’, but because its tightknit urban design allows most residents to walk from home to work within 15 minutes96. Thus liveability, green spaces, walkability and secure and comfortable living seem to be the main drivers of Songdo’s increasing popularity. Walkability has in many ways become a kind of super fix for many cities, smart or otherwise, because it allows

In general, three types of ‘smart cities’ can be identified: (1) greenfield projects; (2) retrofit projects; and (3) community-led bottom-up initiatives (BUIs) (which will be expanded upon later in Chapter 12)26. There are a growing number of large-scale greenfield developments around the world that combine aspects of housing, retail and leisure with smart technology into what are essentially fullyformed smart cities. In 2009, the South Korean city of Songdo paid Cisco Systems $47 million to construct its plumbing infrastructure based on smart (sensing) technologies. Songdo is dubbed by some as ‘smart city-in-a-box’ because it was 76


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Rise of the Smart Cities

urban spaces to become more granular (urban fractals, neighborhood-based) while enabling placemaking. Walkability also offers deliberate advantages for infill development as focusing on pedestrian-scale development enhances the economic viability of infill projects98. It is now recognized that the single-use zoning regulations have created cities not for people but for cars and that it is important to restore multi-use zoning to create more vibrant, accessible and environmentally sustainable urban areas. Streets are complex places where the conflicting demands of many users must be balanced. The reallocation of space away from the car will help restore city streets to their proper function as places for people and activity as well as traffic.

<< People are not moving to Songdo for its ‘smartness’ but rather because of its walkability due to the close proximities of its facilities

> songdo is not a real city per say, but rather the first iteration of an extremely exPensive, toP-down designed Product that is meant to foster an ideal corporate environment and business experience


Another well-known example of a smart city is Masdar City in United Arab Emirates, a greenfield project completely designed by Foster & Partners and Siemens in collaboration with the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. Although still under construction, Masdar City’s integrated, multi-layered and interconnected ‘car-free’ urban design and 6 square kilometer area makes it one of the largest developments to claim a zero-carbon footprint to date. The key to their zero-carbon footprint is an integrated mix of smart measures including bioclimatic and energy-efficient design, renewable energy sources, waste conversion, carbon capture, and above all a car-free environment. The combined measures make it possible to reach an estimated 80 to 100 per cent reduction in GHG emissions within the boundaries of the city.


Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

Rise of the Smart Cities

<< The Oyster card is the key to London’s smart public transport system. The data collected from the cards is used to create more intelligent traffic management systems.

RECENT SMART INTEGRATED CONCEPTS >> The world’s first solar bike path has been built in by SolaRoad in the Dutch town of Krommenie.

<< Part of the Citybike Wien fleet,

Vienna’s public bike rental system.

>> Automated pods provide a new form of

transit for visitors to Heathrow International AIrport in London. The same system has also 80been implemented in Masdar City.

>> The High Line in New York City, a project that transformed a disused railroad line into an elevated urban park


Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

Rise of the Smart Cities

An important component of Masdar is its large-scale personal rapid transit (PRT) system that uses ‘Free Range On Grid’ technology (FROG, a driverless navigation technology) to transport people and goods. A similar system has been installed for some time already in Heathrow airport for passenger transportation between the terminals. The fact that the PRT system will only be deployed in particular districts means that the city will not completely be a car-free environment. Additionally, Masdar’s claim of 100 percent self-generated renewable energy has also come into question96. Masdar City and Songdo show that while the implementation of smart systems in urban spaces are often considered optimal from an efficiency/positivist perspective, they have yet to prove their mettle. To this end, modifying existing urban environments and cities with smart technology will be even more complex and expensive to implement.

>> Photos and an architectural render (last) of Masdar city


Smart retrofit projects have been realized in all kinds of cities on a variety of scales; from the OV chipkaart and Oyster transport card systems in The Netherlands and London to the inclusion of RFID and biometric data on passports. The most famous examples of existing cities made ‘smart’ through retrofit are Singapore and Rio de Janeiro. Singapore has widely experimented with and successfully created various smartgreen corridors/urban townships within its limited land area of around

<< A dizzying view of Masdar from below

700 km2. Even though Singapore has one of the highest population densities in the world, its transport systems, parks and gardens, water and land management, and extensive use of IT has given it the reputation as one of the smartest and most livable cities. In fact, using its reputation as innovation and business hub and ideal corporate urban environment, Singapore has successfully branded and exported itself to China. To be sure, China has used Singapore as a template to guide its urban planning over the last few decades. In the mid-nineties, it created a business park-cum-city in a joint venture with Singapore at Suzhou that became the model for new business parks around China99. Joint ventures created via Singbridge (a consortium of major Singaporean companies) transformed Tianjin into an eco-city and a new district in Guangzhou called the Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City (SGKC). All of these examples are smart cities created as satellite towns within highly urbanized environments where sustainability is being used as the principle driver of creating employment. In 2007, Eduardo Paes, the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, commissioned IBM to design a disaster management system that would provide real time information to government departments during times of crisis. The result was a massive operations center filled with 70 technicians and a network of 400 cameras 83

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Rise of the Smart Cities

strewn throughout the city that transmit live video feeds to a giant wall covered with screens. Officials from 30 city agencies use this centralized operations center, or ‘centro de operações prefeitura do Rio’, to effectively prepare, predict and coordinate responses to any incident. After the command center was built, the city set up a high-resolution weather forecasting and hydrological modeling system that can predict heavy rains as much as 48 hours in advance. According to IBM100, transportation issues can be better monitored through real-time data culled from sensors and video cameras. Four years after the project launched, the citizens of Rio are just beginning to reap benefits. Traffic management and the response time and coordination of emergency incidents have all improved. Residents also have access to daily data feeds from the command center, where they can get updates on weather and traffic and receive suggestions for alternative routes. These sorts of smart projects signal that the built environment is slowly becoming subsumed by Ubikquity—uncharted territory for people, policy makers, and technologists alike. Smart cities might not completely live up to the claims of corporate marketers, but their function as a testing ground for experimental technologies offers a possible vision of what our future cities might look like: tech-enabled, hyper-efficient urban spaces that harness sensing technology to make the most seamless and automatic urban experience possible. While the prospect of automating our cities to work better seems quite straightforward and banal on the surface, further examination of the smart discourse’s underlying ideology reveals an insidiousness that may take us in the wrong direction.


>> “Mission Control” of Rio’s disaster management operations center


Ubikquity and IntelligenCITIES

Drones for Good. Alec Momont, Industrial Design and Engineering graduation project at TU Delft. Supervisors Prof. dr.ir. Richard Goossens, Ir. Kees Nauta, Peter de Jonghe.


INTRODUCING THE AMBULANCE DRONE An Industrial Design and Engineering student at TU Delft developed a new type of drone that serves as a compact flying toolbox containing essential supplies for advanced life support. The first prototype focused on the delivery of an Automated Defibrillator (AED) for persons suffering from cardiac arrest. The drone makes it possible to deliver defibrillation to any patient in a 12 km 2 area within 1 minute. At that speed, survival rates can be as high as 80%. Secondly, the incorporation of a two-way video-supported communication channel in the drone between 112 operators and the first responders will improve first care. Successful AED usage by lay-persons is currently at 20%. With personalized instructions and communication on the Ambulance Drone, this can be increased to 90%.


Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

“Is something rotten in the state of Denmark?”

07 “Is somethIng rotten I n the state of denmark?”



Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

“Is something rotten in the state of Denmark?”

<< Hamlet and Horatio in the Graveyard by Eugène Delacroix (1839)

the smart cIty is the latest in the ‘history of urban imaginaries’ posited by urbanists in the last few decades to describe how cities ought to organize themselves in order remain relevant, robust and successful. Beyond terrorist acts or natural disasters, the spatial form of cities does not simply transform over night. Successful urban policy of course can only be determined a posteriori. That being said, are smart cities really the magic bullet that will carry our species into the future or, as Marcellus uttered to Horatio in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, is “something rotten in the state of Denmark101?” As it stands, the smart cities as defined by the world’s largest IT companies and their government clientele is a proprietary top-down developmental model. Even EUROCITIES, a network of elected local and municipal government officials of Europe’s 130 largest cities stated in a press release that “too much of the smart city agenda so far has been led by producers; competing corporations offering their own technology to cities as an ostensibly comprehensive solution to every urban problem76”. While the involvement of private industry in property development is very common, allowing IT companies to be the primary stakeholder defining the smart city narrative—and in effect the recipients of billions in public research funding—raises numerous glaring red flags. For one, the IT industry is dominated primarily by highly mobile multinational firms whose modus operandi is the accumulation of profit. While many firms claim their dominance comes from innovation and ‘disruption’ of current market structures, the worst kept secret behind their monumental success is their business model: creating monopolies (or monopsony3 as any publisher dealing with Amazon right now already knows).



Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

Look at Facebook or Youtube for example. These services do not create anything at all, but rather offer free services that allow users to do the creating (a.k.a the sharing economy) for them. Once they established monopolies in their respective fields they began to monetize through advertising. Or in the case of Facebook, first came the advertisements, then the sale of personal data to third parties, and finally the invasion of privacy and manipulation of users’ news feeds for its own purposes102. Even truly innovative firms like Google were only able to succeed through advances brought about by government-funded research and military technology (ICTs like the Internet, AR, cellphones, computers, and GPS were the result of university research projects funded by the US Department of Defense) to actually capture their market share. Though social media companies like Facebook offer completely different ecology of services, The IT industry’s strategy of providing free consulting to thousands of cities is indicative that they are attempting to monopolize the market, or at the very least, keep the smart city imaginary as a closed, top-down, proprietary developmental model.

PUBLIC INVESTMENT AND RESEARCH FUNDING GO “SMART” While most European countries continue to make cuts in education to meet the demands of fiscal austerity, the inclusion of smart cities as a research priority within the EU’s Horizon 2020 Program for Research and Technological Development (the main source of research funding for member states), jointnational programs like JPI Urban Europe, Climate KIC, NWO-Transnational Programs, and national programs in The Netherlands like NWO/Verdus SURF have made it a hot topic of academic research for cash-strapped universities, cities and entrepreneurs. The Horizon2020 framework has made it a goal to support the implementation of a Strategic Energy Technology (SET) plan that provides funding to catalyse innovations in ‘smart cities and communities’ and aims mainly on ‘impact’. The original overall aim of these initiatives was a 40 per cent reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. By now, it is clear this will not be achieved. They plan to achieve this goal by encouraging innovation in areas where energy production, distribution, and use (e.g. mobility and transport) and ICTs are intimately linked to offer new interdisciplinary opportunities that improve services while reducing energy and resource consumption and greenhouse gas GHGs and other polluting emissions. The smart city imaginary envisions a future where cities off-load the next stage of digital infrastructures to multinational companies whose priorities might not have public interest in mind. One of the big debates in environmental urban development today concerns policy and strategic responses. Both public and 92

“Is something rotten in the state of Denmark?”

> intellectuals and Politicians do not ask if a policy is right or wrong, but whether it is efficient or inefficient.

private sectors are looking for operational strategies that can be implemented in the development and retrofit of sustainable urban areas. As a result, powerful market players working together with governments are emerging as the new leaders in this debate. Together with increased scaling, the convergence of utilities and the growing number of parties and techniques involved have increased the consumers’ subjective dependence103. Rather than support collaborative and progressive citizen-focused urban solutions, the smart city discourse (e.g. Italy and its ongoing economic crisis) has resulted in cutthroat competition between academic institutions and municipal governments to secure EU funding and foster the best environment for private investment86. The funny thing about the free market structures resulting from globalization is how they allow multinational corporations to break off ties, often historical ones, with national and/or regional authorities. Municipalities and cities are increasingly turning to multinationals to take the lead in designing, constructing and maintaining global energy, transport and communication infrastructures. Relinquishing management of integral infrastructure networks and their spatial layout has in a real sense given private firms control of the essential process flows of society. This leads to markets controlled by a small cadre of key players, little effective competition, and, consequently, few incentives for equity and innovation. The free-market system is based on a theoretical economic approach where authorities behave as ideal, independent market superintendents and producers and consumers as completely rational, self-interested market players. Reality is more complex: all players, particularly businesses, show strategic behavior that concentrates power in a few hands, ruling the roost as a result. The dilemma of ‘competition or dominance’ plays its role as those countries, municipalities, cities and educational institutions that behave ‘according to the spirit of the letter’ of liberalization may in fact become its victims. In the near term, the oligopolistic character of the tech industry might result in smart cities that are mute to one another. 93

Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

For example, cities in Germany might opt to use Siemens technology in their smart development while Dutch cities opt to use IBM or Cisco. Each company has its own branded technology, data types, and algorithms that are only interoperable with one another, ‘locking-in’ cities and discouraging local innovations or non-proprietary smart city technologies that do not ‘speak’ the correct language75. In the long term though, similar to the field of battery-charging interfaces for EVs, smart technology will probably be tuned to one, or a handful of standards. But then again, in 2014 you still can’t plug European appliances into American power outlets without an adapter! According to Fernández67 the main problem is that “this institutionalized mindset of the smart city is hiding the projects, innovations and developments taking place from a different way of thinking about the kind of urban innovations the digital sphere can bring”. IT companies might be able to scale up their infrastructure more efficiently that smaller firms, but walled-garden software and hardware suites, top-down development models and monopolies do not promote rapid innovation—they stifle it. Public investment into ICTs and smart communities might seem like a no-brainer on the surface, but it does not have any guaranteed results. Municipal investment in public-private partnerships—which are effectively subsidies to 94

“Is something rotten in the state of Denmark?”

private industry—to spur local growth in the knowledge economy might actually backfire as the flow of capital from the IT industry might go elsewhere depending on if the partnership is generating enough capital for participating companies. While rhetoric behind smart cities tries to paint that it encourages growth of local IT start-ups and generates employment, the reality is that IT is dominated primarily by a handful of multinational firms. In Ottawa, the Canadian government invested upwards of C$6 billion to spur technology partnerships in the region and are only expecting to receive a third of that money back by 202084. Other model smart cities like Masdar City and Songdo are 100 percent designed and maintained by Siemens and Cisco respectively, creating cities that are in effect ‘privitopias’86. Stan Gale, chairman of Gale International, one of the main investors in Songdo, stated, “The concept behind it is that this would become the central focal point and a main alternative for large-scale companies looking to do business in Japan, China and Korea”. Songdo is not a real city per say, but rather a prototype of an extremely expensive, top-down designed product that is meant to foster the ideal corporate environment and business experience. In Europe, an effort it being made to establish smart cities as the preferred urban identity86. The EU has reduced the complexity of urban development to a set of performance indicators that assumes that the various urban ingenuities found in countries with the vastly different levels of wealth and cultural norms can actually be standardized. While indicators are useful tools for social scientists and policy makers, the EU’s choice of smart city classification indicators may in fact act as a subtle disciplinary tool. Within the current system, cities achieve a higher score (i.e. are smarter) if they attract more private investment, and if they don’t, cities are given a lower score. The phrase ‘smart’ in this way inherently has a positive connotation, creating this false dichotomous scenario where cities are smart if they are tech-based, green and business friendly cities, but if they follow any other developmental path they are suggested to be ‘dumb’, neo-luddite cities. As shown with the example of pubic-private partnerships in Ottawa, attracting capital does not automatically make cities better or more profitable, but at the same time private investment in urban development is not bad either, it simply depends on just how capital is actually used and whether measures are taken to ensure that profit motives of the private industry are not allowed to supersede or manipulate public interests. 95

Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

Smart technology has been shown to work in regards to improving transportation sustainability and aspects of local governance, yet there is a very clear sense that the smart cities are ‘entrepreneurial cities’, technology based, corporately focused cities whose main purpose is to generate capital. Geographer David Harvey found that there has been a shift in the forms of city governance in the mid-80s away from managerial welfare to one of ‘urban entrepreneurialism’ 104 . The historian Tony Judt concurs, stating in his book Thinking the Twentieth Century (2013) that since the 70s politicians and think tanks have shifted to framing public policy in economic terms. Intellectuals and politicians do not ask if a policy is right or wrong,


“Is something rotten in the state of Denmark?”

but whether it is efficient or inefficient. They don’t ask if a measure is good or bad, but whether or not it improves economic productivity. Judt concluded, “The reason they do this is not necessarily because they are uninterested in society, but because they have come to assume, rather uncritically, that the point of economic policy is to generate resources 105 .” It seems that cities are now being left to fend for themselves in the highly competitive global market and must accept the realities of neoliberal urban development in order to attract private capital. The question now is whether market-led urban planning to attract IT companies and private investment is inherently a good thing?


Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

Digital Divides and Elite Enclaves

“ the most pressing urban problems are

not technological but social in nature, and have tended to be exacerbated, not solved, by corporate-led privatization and city branding strategies. �

08 dIgItal dIvI des and e lI te enclaves



Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

Digital Divides and Elite Enclaves

for the last 30 years there has been a growing trend worldwide toward the privatization of public space as reductions in tax revenue has sent municipalities to search for alternative revenue streams. It would be impossible not to spot at least a two dozen billboards an hour driving down the highways and byways of the United States or on the walls of metro stops in every major European and Asian metropolis, but not until now have urban infrastructures themselves become modes of advertisement. In the US, Brooklyn’s busy Atlantic Avenue subway stop has now become Barclay’s Bank Station; KFC logos can now be spotted on manhole covers and fire hydrants, pedestrian crossings are sponsored by McDonalds; while Virginia has become the first state in the US to offer up the naming rights of its bridges, highways and roads to the highest bidder106. Similar polices have been pursued by cash strapped Europeans capitals like Madrid, whose local government recently sold off the naming rights of Puerta del Sol, its most iconic square, and one of its metro lines to the UK-based telecommunications company Vodafone107. In the Netherlands, cities are also selling their roundabouts to private firms109. This begs the question: What does it mean for society when in order to sustain our most iconic cities we must accept the loss of public space to advertising and adapt to being bombarded with even more corporately sponsored messages than we already are in daily life?

>> 100

McDonalds using a street crossing as a form of advertisement during Zurichfest, the largest public festival in Switzerland

In her book Ground Control (2009), award-winning journalist Anne Minton describes how the UK’s market-based urban development policies have led to wholesale privatization of most of its new housing stock, town centers, shopping arcades, streets, public services and the growth in private security forces and gatedcommunities. This template for ‘urban regeneration’ (i.e. gentrification) began in the Docklands area of east London, where the run-down wharfs were redeveloped 101

Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

with expensive glass and concrete high-rise condominiums, gyms, cafes and highend shops. Instead of transforming the area for the benefit of all Londoners, it created a protected elite enclave that removes undesirables, completely insulating residents from the decaying urban environment that surrounds them109. While the book is by no means a communist manifesto, Minton skillfully demonstrates that the public spaces in which the people used to meet, hang out, and more or less do nothing, have been commoditized with little to no democratic inclusion or consultation with the public-at-large. Somehow, following the notions of trickledown economics, urban planners have concluded that the only reason anyone ever leaves their house and walks around is to shop, and that the attraction of investment capital automatically benefits all urban dwellers equally.

PLUTOCRATISATION Seeing as the dominant proponents of smart cities are multinational companies who by their nature would rather avoid democratic deliberation, consensus building, and rules and regulations in order to maximize profit, some have argued that the off-loading of key urban infrastructures and giving redevelopment priority to private industry might result in what geographer Steven Graham calls ‘urban splintering’110. Urban splinting ultimately leads to increased gentrification, fragmentation and polarization of urban regions; eschewing of local and immigrant cultures; and a heightened digital divide between the high value adding activities of crobos and professional middle class workers who can afford and understand new technologies and immigrant communities, the poor and the elderly who do not. Not even 40 years ago, the most attractive (i.e. rich) global cities like San Francisco, New York, Tokyo, London, Paris and Amsterdam were poor and their built environments run down. But from the 80’s onwards things improved significantly as the financial sector grew, and as it grew, cities became richer and more gentrified. Journalist Simon Kuper claims that most of these cities have moved beyond gentrification and have now entered a stage of ‘plutocartisation’ in which they are transforming into “vast gated communities where the one per cent reproduces itself72.” And he may be right, as a quick glance at lists ranking the world’s smartest cities reveals that they also tend to be the most expensive cities to live in111,112,113.

Digital Divides and Elite Enclaves


UNEQUAL Along with being one the most iconic cities and the financial capital of the world, New York City holds the dubious distinction of being America’s most economically unequal metropolitan area, with an income gap comparable to countries like Namibia and Sierra Leone.



$716,625 In 1 9 9 0 : $ 4 5 2 , 4 1 5



$9,455 In 1 9 9 0 : $ 8 , 4 6 8

Kuper argues that while these frontline global cities may be experiencing an ‘urban renaissance’, aggressive property acquisition by the global elite have made them so expensive that it has not only priced out the poor and working class, but increasingly even upper-middle class residents, forcing them to relocate to peripheral suburbs. Along with the rise of unpaid internships in the 102

Source: http://clacls.gc.cuny.edu/ files/2014/01/Household-Income-Con-103 centration-in-NYC-1990-2010.pdf

Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

Digital Divides and Elite Enclaves


> in 2012, singapore beat the united states to hold its title as the most economically unequal society of all oecd countries


creative sector—much desired by groups of young crobos who are often seen as essential to popularizing eventually gentrifying ‘sick’ neighborhoods—this situation has created a de facto pay wall that excludes vast swaths of talented people from enjoying the amenities and potential opportunities found in the world’s best cities. As sociologist Saskia Sassen points out, “These new geographies of centrality cut across many older divides– north-south, eastwest, democracies versus dictator regimes. So top-level corporate and professional sectors of São Paulo begin to have more in common with peers in Paris, Hong Kong et cetera than with the rest of their own societies107.” For now, that old Dutch maxim still holds true: wie betaalt, bepaalt, or, he who pays, decides.

Begging is illegal in the aspiring “Smart Nation” of Singapore, so many impoverished citizens peddle packs of tissues as a method of generating extra income

Trends toward gentrification and plutocratisation are even more demonstrably evident in the global south, where from Cape Town to Mumbai you will find wellendowed technological urban enclaves with qualities of life similar to Western European cities that are functionally separated from ‘non-profitable’ urban spaces where the majority of urban dwellers still live in informal slums. Rather than raising the standards of living for all urban dwellers, prioritizing urban development policies to attract the IT industry has in fact been shown to deepen social divisions114. As one of the first countries to incorporate ICT into governance and urban space and adopt neoliberal economic reforms, the autocratic city-state of Singapore has become one of the most technologically advanced and richest countries in the world. Startlingly, 25-30 percent of the population still lives at or below the poverty line as the income gap between the richest 10 percent of households and the poorest households increased from 15.6 to 1 to 36 to 1 between 1990 and 200084. Putting its questionable human rights record and harsh treatment of political dissidents aside, in 2012, Singapore even beat the United States to hold its title as the most economically unequal society of all OECD countries115. Similar trends in urban splintering have been observed in other developing world cities like Kuala Lampur, Sao Paulo and Bangalore84. 105

Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

Digital Divides and Elite Enclaves

THE RIGHT TO INFRASTRUCTURE One of the features of twenty-first century urbanism is the dramatic worldwide expansion of large, often claimed to be ‘smart’, infrastructure projects116,117. Infrastructure and its morphology, integration, and fit within a city’s social fabric is particularly essential to its urban metabolism118,119,120,121. Metropolitan network logics, rationalities and ideologies shape decisions about infrastructural intervention at different spatial scale levels. Lack of infrastructure capacity is seen as a limit to city growth and prosperity , so cities face pressure to upgrade infrastructure as part of a global inter-urban competition122,123. Conversely, infrastructure planning can build equitable and sustainable resilience to climate change3,124,125 with new projects addressing social, economic or environmental inequalities123. Recently, strong concerns have been brought up about the capacity of new cities to provide adequate infrastructure and ensure that investment from both the public and private sector supports just and sustainable urban development3,33,126,127,128,129,130. Compared to the highly technologically sophisticated, rich and organized cities in the global north, many cities in the global south suffer from decaying, mismanaged or a complete lack of basic infrastructures like sewage systems, water treatment, electricity, etc. Infrastructures in poor cities are more like spatially separated but linked archipelagos where certain (richer) areas have basic services and poor sections do not75. While cities serve as platform for growth and innovation, design preferences in infrastructural projects remained problem oriented and passive to ever changing societal and environmental pressures. Infrastructural investment can equally reduce or intensify resource inequalities and connect or displace communities, fracture livelihoods, and reinforce spatial divisions131.

>> Yangon, the capital city of Myanmar (Burma), suffers from regular floods due to a lack of decent sewage infrastructure

Following this notion, IT-led urban development has been shown to ignore the ‘right to infrastructure’132. The right to infrastructure is considered a prototype for open source urbanism as a novel expression and assemblage of public and collective action. It echo’s Henri Lefebvre’s famous notion of the ‘right to the city’133, which has recently become an emblem of urban social movements worldwide134,135. The infrastructure is not something that gets placed, traversed or inflected upon a cities social milieu. Rather, it becomes re-inscribed as a constitutive ‘right’—the right to define and redefine one’s infrastructural being. This has been made especially evident by the study of open source urban hardware projects, where the means and ends of political action converge in very concrete and material objects of infrastructure134. 106


Digital Divides and Elite Enclaves


Residents of Kibera (Nairobi) that have been forcefully evicted so their slum can be destroyed


Police forcing their way through fences as an eviction begins at Dale Farm in Basildon, England


Not everyone in Toronto is satisfied with the influx of new condominiums

> in cities around the world municipalities and developers are forcefully evicting poor residents without proper compensation and reallocating their property for more useful (i.e. Profitable) purposes

The smart city imaginary for the most part completely ignores the most pressing problems that plague cities in the global south: extreme poverty, economic inequality, and ethnic discrimination. Smart cities also turn a blind eye to what Harvey calls ‘accumulation through dispossession’, where real-estate developers in cities around the world, rich and the poor, are forcefully evicting poor residents without proper compensation and reallocating their property for more useful (i.e. profitable) purposes. In 2009, the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions released a damning report that concluded that forced evictions ranks amongst the most widespread human rights violations in the world136. It is startlingly clear that prioritizing urban planning in the global south to serve the business interests of multinational IT companies is extremely misguided when tax-payer dollars could be better spent investing in comparatively non-expensive infrastructure and progressive policies that benefit the vast majority of poor urban dwellers who may still lack basic education, sanitation and infrastructure services. The most pressing urban problems are not technological but social in nature, and have tended to be exacerbated, not solved, by corporate-led privatization and city branding strategies. 109

Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

Give Us Your Data and We’ll Give You a Techno-Utopia

09 gIve us your data and w e’ll gIve you a techno-utop Ia



Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

Give Us Your Data and We’ll Give You a Techno-Utopia

the story so far is that cities are facing concurrent, interconnected, and compounding environmental, economic, and social crises that threatened our future livelihood and how IT companies are selling municipal governments the ‘smart’ city imaginary as our ticket into the future. We, like the IT companies, have painted modernity as ‘sick’ and in need of immediate resuscitation. This cynical narrative conveys the negative side of the ‘utopian mirror image’, a trope typical of utopian visions of future urban planning ever since Thomas More’s Utopia (1516)75. Urban planning historian Françoise Choay has argued that in order to provide a thorough urban discourse, one must first diagnose the ailments before suggesting universally valid solutions137. In its current form, smart cities are not about synthesizing the multiplicity of perspectives of how human view themselves and their relation with society and technology or our myriad urban ingenuities and cultural norms. Rather, it is an all-encompassing technocratic utopian vision that holds Ubikquity, rather than the slow, oftentimes contradictory nature of politics, as the solution to our most pressing urban problems. And if the rising number of political protests and the global shift towards nationalism are of any indication, many are becoming increasingly frustrated with the current political and economic order. The idea that technology can deliver definitive and standardized solutions to the diverse and oftentimes ambiguous social dynamics and conflicts of the human condition given enough data, computing power, and the right algorithms is what technology writer Evegney Morozov calls ‘solutionism’138. This is connected with the reframing of social policies towards quantifiable efficiency indicators where the smart city can optimize urban ‘imperfections’ and make life frictionless and as trouble-free as possible without drastic changes in personal lifestyles or radical 112


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structural change. According to Morozov, the solutionist mentality believes that innovation and technology are inherently good within themselves, regardless of the potential political implications or unintended social consequences. Though it might be counterintuitive to claim, as innovation and the proliferation of digital technology are almost universally assumed to be synonymous with progress, we as a society may be suffering from a pro-innovation bias. This in turn digs up the age-old debate about the supposed neutrality of technology. Then again, what exactly is technology? In the most basic sense, technology is a procedure (social or mechanical) of adapting our surroundings whose progress is dependent on the efficiency and convenience of future developments compared to previous iterations. Views on the neutrality of technology tend to fall within two general camps, ‘technoneutrals’ who believe in instrumental theory of technology and ‘technostructuralists’ who believe in the substantive theory of technology139. The more widely accepted instrumental theory takes the position that technology is simply a tool whose purpose is determined by the user, making it effectively apolitical and value-neutral. With this definition, the smart city discourse can also be regarded as technoneutral. Technoneutrals tend to agree with the reductionist view that technological progress is a rational, autonomous, self-propelling, selfperpetuating force with its own values, ideology, and social structures that benefit everyone equally while simultaneously being external and independent of human control. Computer scientist Abbe Mowshowitz argues, “We have cultivated a special relationship to technology wherein needs and conflicts are almost invariably formulated as technical problems requiring technical solutions140.” For technoneutrals, when a technology fails or has negative consequences it’s the fault of big business, the military, politicians or individuals, not the technology itself. This follows the line of thinking that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Technostructuralists on the other hand argue that technology presents a new type of cultural system that restructures the social world as an object of control. They believe that technologies develop out of institutional needs with impacts mediated through institutional arrangements and social forces and that a technological artifacts’ significance is also socially constructed. For technostructuralists, ICTs are artifacts that do not inherently promote freedom or tyranny, but objects that project and lock-in existing or emerging power structures. Technology does not inherently liberate or enslave and does not exist in a vacuum from society; its development and implied uses are determined by the inventors and interpreted by the complex web of human activities that surround it. The smart city imaginary is marketed as apolitical and value neutral in nature—this is why smart city initiatives are being developed in highly democratic regimes like those Europe and the US and autocratic regimes like Singapore and China. In our view, (smart) technology 114

Give Us Your Data and We’ll Give You a Techno-Utopia

is never neutral. From optimizing public transportation to monitoring political dissidents, while it might utilize similar means, technology has the potential to be used socially and politically for dissimilar outcomes.

RISE OF ALGORITHMS AND ‘THE END OF THEORY’ What does the stock market, search engine optimization, web advertising and smart cities all have in common? They are all defined by petabytes of data, sophisticated computer algorithms and big data analytics. Statistician George Box once said, “All models are wrong, but some are useful141.” Speaking at a technology conference, Google’s research director Peter Norvig updated that maxim: “All models are wrong, and increasingly you can succeed without them142.” Without any particular knowledge of culture or marketing, Google has been able to dominate the advertising world solely with mathematics and better analytical tools. They don’t need to understand why people like a particular web page over another—as long as their statistical quantifications point in the right direction, it’s good enough. According to journalist Chris Anderson, Google’s philosophy to success is not only disrupting the advertising world, but could potentially upend the very basis of scientific inquiry itself: correlation without causation, the ‘end of theory’. The basis of the scientific method is creating theoretical models that are tested with experiments to verify their validity. Scientists are trained to recognize that correlation does not equal causation, and that before you can claim that phenomena A causes phenomena B, you must understand both their underlying mechanisms. Norvig himself rebutted Anderson in his personal blog to the authenticity of the attribution where he updated Box’s maxim, retorting, “Models are here to stay, and it doesn’t make sense to talk of doing science (or computer science) without them143.” He pointed out to how spell checkers are more efficient because they use the Markov Sequence to approximate results without the necessity of linguists. For more complex systems, he states that we should “use as much data as well as we can to help define (or estimate) the complex models we need for these complex domains.” One could argue that for more complex (social) problems like those found in cities we do need more complex models, but seeing as the smart city imaginary maintain this solutionist, ‘correlation without causation’ ethos, it’s worth taking a look if smart technology has yielded as fantastic results as those of Google.


Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

Give Us Your Data and We’ll Give You a Techno-Utopia




M E A N I N G LE S S WORLD Friedrich Nietzsche



Give Us Your Data and We’ll Give You a Techno-Utopia

Ubikquity and IntelligenCITIES


> the basis of the scientific method is creating theoretical models that are tested with experiments to verify their validity

ALGORITHMS PREDICTIVE POLICING TECHNOLOGY In the past, GPS mapping algorithms have generally been restricted to calculating the shortest, cheapest, or fastest routes. Researchers at Yahoo Labs in Barcelona are revisiting this idea. After studying correlations in Flickr’s database of photos and their tags, they developed an algorithm to calculate the happiest, most beautiful, and most quiet routes through London and Boston. They had 84 users between the two cities evaluate the paths their algorithm generated, and lo and behold, the users agreed that the algorithm did exactly what it set out to do.

Top to bottom: Shortest route, happiest route, most quiet route, most beautiful route

Overall, smart technologies and smart city initiatives in the form of greenfield and retrofit projects have had varying levels of success. In 2009, IBM picked up where the cyberneticists of MIT (as explained in Chapter 6) left off after their failure in applying computer-based urban simulations in Pittsburgh. This time, they set their sights on the city of Portland, Oregon. Working with local experts, IBM amassed a vast cache of historical data and developed a model that grew to over 7000 equations with the aim of creating a ‘decision support system’ to help guide planning policy74. While their design was a vast improvement over past attempts, all the time and money spent on development was to no avail. IBM’s model produced reliably dull and resoundingly obvious predictions, such as there was strong correlation between increased amounts of bike paths and reduced obesity. In the end, city officials decided to pass on the program. Similarly, with the previously mentioned case of Rio di Janiero, after mayor Eduardo Paes got his camera network and centralized operations center up and running he took the time to fly to California to give a dazzling TED talk to demonstrate how Rio is moving into the future, yet in reality it was little more than a promotional stunt—a city looking smart and actually being smart are two different things. Security experts remain skeptical that this IBM led project will do anything to subdue the criminality of the city, and beyond the live streams and weather forecasts, there has been little to no investment in integrating the city or the system with a wider array of smart infrastructures74. In the last few years, IT companies have courted law enforcement agencies in the US and EU with the prospect of smart ‘predictive policing technology’. This might conjure up scenes from the movie Minority Report—coincidently based on a Philip K. Dick short story—of snub nosed detectives turning to groups of psychics to predict criminal activity before it happens, but this is a very real and rapidly growing trend as police departments turn to Ubikquity to mine past crime data in order to ‘predict’ and prevent future crimes. Using methods not that much



Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

Give Us Your Data and We’ll Give You a Techno-Utopia

different from the algorithms found in Amazon’s recommender system, privately developed software suites like PredPol analyzes decades of crime statistics to draw correlations, recommends which areas should be policed more intensely, and divides the city into a ‘predictive zone’ map140. So far, PredPol has yielded surprising results in California with criminality down in Los Angeles and Santa Cruz by 13 percent and 30 percent respectively since its adoption. Again, we run into the issue of solutionism in which technology is used to achieve a particular result but ignores the underlying mechanisms of the phenomena, including possible second order effects such as pushing criminality towards other areas.

Increased Above average Average Below average Low or no crime

Its cost savings and efficacy so far are impressive, but it is important to be aware that predictive crime algorithms are not some magical crystal ball that foresee future per say, they use historical data to create probabilistic models of when and where crime might occur. Information theorist Martin Fricke observed that data mining initiatives tend to mistake data for information and encourage “the mindless and meaningless collection of data in the hope that one day it will . . . ascend to information—pre-emptive acquisition144”. Future criminal activity is not the result of past crimes, but because of underlying, harder to quantify environmental and urban problems like poverty, lack of economic opportunities, urban decay and education. Since criminal activity tends to occur in poor and minority neighborhoods, ‘value-neutral’ algorithms may actually be used to justify institutional biases like racial profiling. Furthermore, shifting crime dynamics must be entered into the model in real time to keep the models accurate. If urban baseline conditions change dramatically, lets say during flood or a riot or something similar, the predictive capabilities of software become rendered useless. Predictive policing and data analytics are at best complimentary tools, and should not be viewed as a cost effective replacement to human intuition and building trust and respect between local communities and law enforcement.

EVERY TECHNOLOGY ENCODES A HYPOTHESIS >> A mapping of violent crimes against persons in London, used by the London Metropolitan Police Service


Most applications of smart systems and smart data processing are based on the collection and representation of data that is interpreted by a technician, and thus in a way can be connected to the System I approach in the context of the Kahneman’s prospect theory. The idea that you 121

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put sensors out, measure everything, and on the basis make decisions is biased because data is crafted. It is curated by machines and machine specialists, or to put it straightforward: there’s a hypothesis behind it based on a specific methodology: “Every technology and every ensemble of technologies encodes a hypothesis about human behaviour, and the smart city is no different”, as Greenfield claimed145. For example, smart meters are often seen as a genuine reform mechanism to increase urban sustainability by monitoring household water, gas and electricity use. Smart meters themselves are useful at presenting consumption data but fail to generate any useful narrative because they generally do not illustrate the relation between user consumption and the highly complex and seemingly invisible infrastructure services outside of the household. This is what Morozov calls ‘numeric imagination’: data enables us to think in numbers about how much we can consume and what we can unplug, but it never challenges us to think of beyond our own individual consumption and connect it with larger urban systems140. A real sustainability policy might require larger lifestyle sacrifices beyond simply being aware of material consumption. Numeric imagination might convince us to buy an electric vehicle because it is more energy efficient, but narrative imagination illuminates us as to whether we should buy a new car at all. In his book Mirror Worlds (1991), computer scientist David Gelernter presaged the smart city in describing how sensors, networks, computational power and data visualization were amalgamating in a way that would change the world forever, specifically using cities as a metaphor to demonstrate how these powerful technologies can capture urban complexities en vivo. For him, ICTs act as scientific viewing tools that allow us to materialize a bird’s-eye view of cities. These technologies would create digital, macro-level facsimile of the intricacies of interactions between human beings, the built environment and machines146. He contends however that such top sight won’t reveal the subjective experiences of urban dwellers themselves, and that mirror worlds would slowly optimized out the inefficient, irrational emotionalism of humans in favor of a rationalist view of society. In The Gay Science, German Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche resoundingly agrees, “What? Do we really want to permit existence to be degraded for us like this—reduced to a mere exercise for a calculator and an indoor diversion for mathematicians? Above all, one should not wish to divest existence of its rich ambiguity that is a dictate of good taste, gentlemen, the taste of reverence for everything that lies beyond your horizon147.” After a few more pages he dismissively concludes, “An essentially mechanical world would be an essentially meaningless world.”


Give Us Your Data and We’ll Give You a Techno-Utopia









Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

Liberté, Prédictivité , Uniformité


lIberté, prédIctIvIté, unIformIté cities may be the apotheosis “ smart of homo ubikis, where we become so reliant on ubikquity that our capacity to reason could not function without it.



Ubikquity & the Illuminated City


Liberté, Prédictivité , Uniformité

La Grande Arche de la Défense, otherwise known as the Grand Arch, a monument in the west of Paris

one of the maIn criticisms launched against urban development guided by smart technology is that it reduces the importance of thematic experts within the fields of urban planning, sociology, and anthropology. Urban planning that relies primarily on generalized algorithms could lead to what Marcuse observes as cities of political consensus “in which the claims of the minority or powerless or disenfranchised or non-mainstream groups are considered disturbing factors in the quest for policies benefiting the whole148.” Smart cities may push age-old social problems towards the field of post politics where solutions become generally agreed upon, digitally constructed targets—which it has, at least in regards to the EU indicators—devoid of critical discussion or debate between conflicting ideological positions. This leads right to heart of the Two Concepts of Liberty (1958), a lecture presented by the renowned liberal political philosopher Isaiah Berlin concerning the dialectic between the notions of positive and negative liberty. According to Berlin, negative liberty is used to answer the question, “What is the area within which the subject—a person or group of persons—is or should be left to do or be what he is able to do or be, without interference by other persons?” Positive liberty attempts to answer, “What, or who, is the source of control or interference that can determine someone to do, or be, this rather than that?149”. In a broader context, positive liberty essentially deals with the freedom of individuals or groups to be self-determined, self-realized, and to act autonomously and collectively towards manifesting new, potentially better futures for society103. Negative liberty on the other hand does have such lofty ideals or grand visions for the world—it is only concerned with protecting individuals from unnecessary restraint or harm. Writing during the Cold War, Berlin questioned attempts to promote positive liberty, because for him every instance of positive liberty in 126


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Liberté, Prédictivité , Uniformité

>> Anonymous searching versus personalized Google search results

recent history has always resulted in the horrors of tyrannical dictatorships. From the French revolution and the USSR to the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, the revolutionary vanguard claimed that in order for the masses to be transformed into better, more rational human beings, the people must trust them because they were more rational and better educated. They had an absolute belief that they knew the reasons why most of humanity was oppressed, and to reach the ideal society they must be allowed to do anything, including kill, to achieve it. Berlin’s work was immensely influential and relevant during the Cold War when the west was actively promoting development in the global south that conformed to capitalism and negative liberty (when it was possible). However, in the post-cold war era, the west has combined negative liberty with the reductionist theories of neoliberal economists who claim that the human interactions and financial world are best understood as billions of self-seeking, rational economic agents. It seems at times that the only purpose of government in the 21st century is to protect individuals from coercion and to promote a social contract without any ideals beyond recognizing individual desires and the right of persons to indulge in them. Is it true that we have reached what the political scientist Francis Fukuyama has called ‘the end of history’150? Despite past atrocities that have occurred in the name of positive liberty, is a world of developed and semi-functioning liberal democracies geared solely towards economic expansion and sating the material desires of individuals really the best thing we can envision? The smart city imaginary, as an amalgam of technology and market-led ideology, is not a radical utopian vision that posits any new ideas about how to 128

tackle the most complex problems in our species’ history. If anything, it might actually act as a kind of technological straightjacket that maintains the status quo.

LIMITING INNOVATION While there is no direct evidence to prove the smart cities inhibit positive liberty, there are a number of comparable examples that demonstrate how Ubikquity is used to manifest a kind of simplistic, static perspective of the possibilities of the human experience and minimize risk-taking. For one, there is what political and internet activist Eli Pariser has dubbed the ‘filter bubble’, where web companies like Facebook, Amazon and Google use algorithms to personalize search results and web experiences based on past links users have clicked on. If two individuals with different political leanings were searching the same subject, algorithmic truncation would personalize their search results and their social media feeds to conform to their previously established worldviews based on their web history. This kind of radical personalization is being employed in finance, travel, and particularly in news. Additionally, there are already companies like Automated Insights that are using algorithms to generate complete stories—the next possible step in this progression would be algorithms that automatically customize the actual text of articles based on the user’s presumed education level. Yes, personalization algorithms are a radically more efficient way to target ads and content, increase viewership, yield economic benefits for businesses, and heighten user experience for consumers, but this age of radical customization has serious implications for social relations within the city. The ‘if you like this, then you’ll like that’ web culture 129

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Liberté, Prédictivité , Uniformité

might give us media we are most interested in, but it also might overlook content that is less popular but challenges our preconceived notions of reality and justice. Just like Google’s Norvig said, algorithms are used to simplify complex problems for the sake of efficiency. This unwavering belief to personalize user experiences in name of efficiency manifests a highly self-centered view of reality that trap individuals into an increasingly fixed vision of themselves and the world around them. The unintended consequence of such technology is that it tends to inhibit change. This could potentially reduce the possibility of solidarity and objectively informed debates as people receive similar facts but generate different knowledge bases, or even worse, lead to important local and international issues being swept away in the background time and time again by a continuous tide of #trending lists and LOLCAT memes. The ‘filter bubble’ significantly contorts the flows of information we receive from the web, yet there are other more absurdly powerful systems in the world of finance operating along similar mechanisms that are also used to inhibit risktaking and keep things the same. Investment banking and finance is sometimes portrayed in the media as a carnival of gluttonous, self-indulgent fat cats who use complex mathematics and high-risk trading mechanisms to enrich themselves at the expense of humanity and the planet—at least if your point of reference is the financial reporter Matt Taibbi or Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. This might be true for the gravest of offenders, but reality is a bit different, almost to the point of banality. ALADDIN is an incredibly powerful, yet essentially unknown computer network owned by Blackrock, the world’s the largest asset manager151. Aladdin controls over € 8.76 trillion worth of market investments, or just about 7 percent of all financial wealth on the planet. Startling to say the least, but how exactly does the computer system work? The culmination of 20 years of development, ALADDIN has within its memory a vast trove of information of the last 50 years of history—financial or otherwise152.

Trending “news” according to Buzzfeed

As news websites search for ways to increase click-through rates, ad revenue and readership, companies like the Daily Me offer services that allow for the personalization of news stories and web advertisements based on information stored in the many cookies hidden away on users’ computers and mobile devices that track what they read on social media and other websites 140 . In effect, the actual content of news stories becomes less important than its ability to attract an audience and generate advertising revenue. 130

Just like previous examples of Ubikquity, ALADDIN mines historical data and uses its massive computer power to make correlations between the present with events in the past in order to predict possible (financial) disasters and moves investments away from futures that might disrupt the status quo. As it moves around € 8.76 trillion in investments, the ALADDIN system is in some ways more powerful than traditional mechanisms of politics. From the perspective of finance, the system is quite laudable, but from a societal perspective it is very boring because its purpose is to make the (financial) world as stable as possible, preventing investment into any kind of truly innovative development that might benefit humanity but are deemed too risky to the bottom line of a small cadre of investors. 131

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Acceleration Towards Cloud Feudalisms

11 accelerat Ion towards cloud feudalI sms

“ this 2-dimensional archive of

reality bolsters a deeply static, flat, and endless perpetual ‘now’. ”



Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

Acceleration Towards Cloud Feudalisms

the smart cIty discourse and the solutionist mantra idealizes technology as a almost mythological, spontaneously generating, and accelerating force of nature that grabs us by the hands and drag us into a future defined on it own terms. This ideology is a tacit continuation of Marx and other materialist theorists who posited that economic forces and the latest technological artifacts were the primarily drivers behind the transition from feudalism to capitalism in Europe. In Speed and Politics (1977), urbanist Paul Virilio frames it from the perspective of dromology and his ‘war model’ of development153. Dromology is concerned with the ‘acceleration’ of the social, political and economic world, and how that durations of time involved in the transference of people and objects, and the transmission of the images and ideas, have become compressed153. He interprets history, politics, society and technology from the perspective of speed, and that speed (i.e. efficiency), enhanced by technology, has become the only benchmark for measuring progress. For Virilio, politics can never be subsumed by wealth, and in addition to wealth, the history of institutions like the military and artistic movements like futurism show that war and the need for speed are cornerstones of modern human civilization and the primary modes of organizing cultural and spatial development of urban areas157. Feudal cities used to be guarded by massive defensive walls to protect them from outside invaders, yet the walls disappeared, why? Within his ‘war model’, increasingly transportable and accelerated weapons systems rendered feudal urbanisms obsolete as siege warfare transformed into wars of movement, affecting local authorities ability to govern the flow of people and encouraging what he calls focus on the ‘habitable flow of the masses’155.



Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

Concurrently, if market dominance of IT companies, hedge funds and energy companies is of any indication, the accumulation of wealth and power in the modern era is also tied to the pursuit of greater means of speed. Globalization for him has less to do with the homogenization of economies and cultures and more to do with the creation of a global ‘one time system’—the ever present, perpetual now156. Virilio has argued that capital cities of the future will only remain significant because of their ability to act as the intersections of speed, rather than serving any communal or social purpose157.

Acceleration Towards Cloud Feudalisms

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CONTROL AND TRUST In a post-9/11 world, the importance of the military-industrial-scientific complex has not been decreasing, but increasing. The traditional notion of ‘pure war’, with tanks, ships and planes, has evolved into the current ‘Infowar’ epoch. The threat of attack by clandestine agents (covert Islamist terror cells, cyber terrorists, etc.) who can easily blend into the general populous has been used by governments to validate increased spending on the ‘third age’ of military weaponry—Ubikquity— for the purposes of national security158. Virillio’s writings are almost hauntingly prophetic: Not only are just about every major ICT development—wireless communication, the Internet, computers, transistor chips, AR, GPS, RFID, etc.— the result of military research funded by the US Department of Defense, but the revelations of the NSA wiretapping scandals demonstrates how smart technology could be the final nail in the coffin for personal privacy. Smart cities may become a digital rendering of Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon, an invisible prison that reinforces what Foucault calls a ‘disciplinary society’: permanent observation and visibility allows for the control of behavior without the necessity of excessive prejudicial violence, jail cells, handcuffs or locks. But do not worry, beyond certain public areas and transportation hubs installed with CCTV cameras, nobody will be spying on us—ironically enough, social media companies have outsourced spying to the public at large by somehow convincing us to make our digital lives their private property. A similar critique can be applied to the IoT. Google recently proposed that its successful web-based advertising strategies could be used to monetize this new ecosystem of network objects159. This opens the possibility of smart cars pushing particular brand of engine oil when the oil needs changing, or smart refrigerators that upsell gourmet goat cheese from Alsace, skim milk and Starbucks coffee based on your recent purchases at the supermarket when you are running low on food and are trying to make breakfast. Autonomous marketing appliances aside, the biggest players looking to take advantage of IoT are insurance companies. IoT 136

> google has proposed that its successful web-based advertising strategies could be used to monetize this new ecosystem of network objects

may well become the very basis of future home, car and health insurance policies, where insurers offer free or cheap smart devices that surveil our daily lives and stream data into their servers so they can create the most ‘accurate’ policy costs. Because insurers make money when we conform to non-risky behaviors that limit the possibility of a payout, this creates a feedback system of control (i.e. behavioral modification). This should not be construed as paranoid speculation, as a recent report by insurance consulting firm Celent’s Americas Property/Casualty Practice plainly states that data from IoT can “provide a much more accurate picture of the exposures, hazards, and risks of what is being insured,” and recommends, “insurers can create feedback and control processes to command or request things to change 137

Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

> in the near future, we may become less defined by the very real, yet unquantifiable ambiguities of the human condition and increasingly commoditized by the trail of digital bread crumbs we leave their loss-related behavior and performance161.” If insurance companies can spot when we are meddling in behaviors that affects their bottom line, they can impose a disciplinary system that penalize users by hiking policy premiums, denying insurance or simply take away our smart devices. Presently, there are little to no legal regulations of IoT that curtail the power of insurance companies. As law professor Scott Peppet pointed out, “antidiscrimination law does not prevent economic sorting based on our personalities, habits, and character traits . . . insurers are free to avoid insuring—or charge more to—those with risk preferences they find too expensive to insure160.” What may happen in the future if no regulations are imposed is that insures could require users to always wear health and fitness monitoring devices like Apple’s iWatch as part of a policy agreement. This all makes sense for insurance companies from an economic standpoint, and maybe even from a health and wellness standpoint, but the prospect of a Pavolvian world that monitors our daily movements with networked household devices and smart apparel for the sake of optimizing insurance policies that discriminate and punish people for being too ‘risky’ is extremely dubious to say the least. Issues of individual autonomy and privacy are further complicated by what computer security and privacy expert Bruce Schneiner has dubbed the rise of ‘cloud feudalism’161. Classical feudalism was a system of complex and hierarchical fiefdoms where serfs made oaths and allegiances to lords for protection from harm. A similar model now exists in computer security today as users mercifully click on byzantine user agreement and privacy policies and entrust their personal data to IT companies like Google, Facebook, Dropbox and Apple for the right to use their ubikquitous products and services (Gmail, iCloud, etc). And this exactly is the problem: trust is our only option because it’s either we trust them or we opt out of Ubikquity, making life a lot more difficult. Unless you are a programmer with a lot of time on your hands, the vast majority of users have no idea how these services and their accompanying security systems actually work. And even if you had the technical knowledge to understand it, you definitely could not install your own security systems to your mobile devices, e-mail or social media accounts. Despite efforts to assure users otherwise, the price we pay for using these ‘free’ services, 138

>> Hidden away in the user settings for Google accounts is an option to manage what kinds of ads Google displays for you. As a result, you can see what your “interests” are, from their perspective. See for yourself at https://www.google.com/settings/u/0/ads

as in the case of Facebook, is that our private data is monetized and sold to third parties. If the recent celebrity photo hacking scandals on iCloud162, Facebook’s manipulation of newsfeeds to understand users’ emotions163, and Amazon’s ability to remotely wipe the memory of any Kindle at any time164 counts as evidence, security is not guaranteed and there are still very few restrictions as to what these companies can do with the data we entrust them with—for now, the law is on their side. 139

Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

Acceleration Towards Cloud Feudalisms

GOOGLE BIRD VIEW The ubikquitous Google Maps web application is the golden standard for geographical and navigational tools. Curiously, despite our cultural differences and on going wars and conflicts, the people of the world seem united in their opinion about the invasion privacy whenever they see a Google street view car passing by.



Acceleration Towards Cloud Feudalisms

Furthermore, the political realities of ‘superjuristiction’ and the increasingly ambiguous sovereignty of data as it travels through Ubikquity also exacerbates the issue of privacy52. According to the USA Patriot Act, an anti-terrorism law passed in the United States in the wake of 9/11, all data stored by US companies on non-US data servers falls within the jurisdiction of US intelligence services. That means the United States government effectively has card blanche access to the data of all global users of US cloud-based services: Facebook, Apple, Twitter, Dropbox, Google, Amazon, Rackspace, Box, Microsoft, IBM, CISCO, and many, many more. Here, that rambunctious sociologist Saskia Sassen is at it again: Through the Patriot Act [...] the government has authorized official monitoring of attorney-client conversations, wideranging secret searches and wiretaps, the collection of Internet and e-mail addressing data [...] All of this can be done without probable cause about the guilt of the people searched—that is to say, the usual threshold that must be passed before the government may invade privacy has been neutralized. This is an enormous accrual of powers in the administration, which has found itself in the position of having to reassure the public that it can be ‘trusted’ not to abuse these powers. But there have been abuses 165. The idea of the Internet as some sort of boundless medium of free expression is juxtaposed by the fact it is also highly contested political space where the US government has a unique position in managing and monitoring most of its core functions. Extending this to smart cities, any city on earth that develops their digital urban infrastructure through an American-based IT company runs the risk that it may become a giant spy machine for US intelligence agencies and third party affiliates as a significant portion of the US’s intelligence gathering capacity has been privatized and outsourced to multinational consulting firms that serve both government and corporate clientele with equal fervor166. Furthermore, the increased digitization and centralizing of key public infrastructures to the cloud increases the risk of them being hacked and manipulated by talented cyber terrorists and/or foreign governments. Human beings are already highly dependent on technological artifacts in our everyday lives, but we can still somewhat function without them. Smart cities may be the apotheosis of Homo Ubikis, where we become so reliant on Ubikquity that our capacity to reason could not function without it. It will not result in humanity becoming slaves to technology, as slavery is a state forced upon the individual by an aggressor. As recent history has shown us, forcing people to do things with a 143

Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

boot on their neck doesn’t yield particularly effective outcomes in the long run. The genius of this smart utopian vision is that it assumes, perhaps correctly, that users and cities will willingly embrace technology as a convenient means for individual empowerment, access to knowledge and services, and increasing public safety, urban sustainability and economic growth. This will all be at the cost of privacy and personal autonomy as human beings become utterly dependent on corporate gatekeepers who hold the keys to essential digital infrastructures that only the highly technologically literate understand. In the near future, we may become less defined by the very real, yet unquantifiable ambiguities of the human condition and increasingly commoditized by the trail of digital bread crumbs we leave as we move about built environments imbedded with smart sensors and smart walls festooned with video advertisements tailored to ours moods and shopping history—that is of course if they can pry us away from incessantly tapping on our personal windows to Ubikquity. When considering the prospect of wearable smart technology and AR, this might result in a literal truncation of reality with bespoke, digitally enhanced experiences of the physical environment itself. Though it is doubtful that tech companies and hedge funds were thinking about it when they were designing movie recommendation engines, predictive crime applications and investment software, the unintended consequence of algorithms is that they are being used to limit risk-taking and maintain, rather than radically empower users to challenge the status quo, to innovate or to become creative. These sophisticated, yet simplified models only look at past datasets to find correlations with the present and predict the future. It is a 2-dimensional archive of reality that bolsters a deeply static, flat, and endless perpetual ‘now’ that circumscribes our understanding of who individuals and communities actually are and what they could potentially transform into. This is besides the fact that the digital you could potentially be sold off to third party companies depending of which services you use, so be weary. Following this path, urban dwellers may become serfs within terra ubikquita, a hybrid spatial-digital landscape controlled by competing public and private cloud-based kingdoms with their own rights, privileges and public service offerings; a technologically enhanced, highly stratified neo-feudal society where people have no other choice but to pay fealty to IT companies who we must trust to protect our privacy and (digital) selves, and all with the tacit click or poke of an arcane user agreement form.

>> Right background: Facebook’s lengthy Data Use policy, which states everything that Facebook is legally allowed to do with users’ data. The full policy statement can be found at https://www.facebook.com/full_data_use_policy 144

Information we receive about you We receive a number of different types of information about you, including: Your information Your information is the information that’s required when you sign up for the site, as well as the information you choose to share. Registration information: When you sign up for Facebook, you are required to provide information such as your name, email address, birthday, and gender. In some cases, you may be able to register using other information, like your telephone number. Information you choose to share: Your information also includes the information you choose to share on Facebook, such as when you post a status update, upload a photo, or comment on a friend’s story. It also includes the information you choose to share when you communicate with us, such as when you contact us using an email address, or when you take an action, such as when you add a friend, like a Page or a website, add a place to your story, use our contact importers, or indicate you are in a relationship. Your name, profile pictures, cover photos, gender, networks, username and User ID are treated just like information you choose to make public. Your birthday allows us to do things like show you age-appropriate content and advertisements. Information others share about you We receive information about you from your friends and others, such as when they upload your contact information, post a photo of you, tag you in a photo or status update, or at a location, or add you to a group. When people use Facebook, they may store and share information about you and others that they have, such as when they upload and manage their invites and contacts. Other information we receive about you We also receive other types of information about you: We receive data about you whenever you use or are running Facebook, such as when you look at another person’s timeline, send or receive a message, search for a friend or a Page, click on, view or otherwise interact with things, use a Facebook mobile app, or make purchases through Facebook. When you post things like photos or videos on Facebook, we may receive additional related data (or metadata), such as the time, date, and place you took the photo or video. We receive data from or about the computer, mobile phone, or other devices you use to install Facebook apps or to access Facebook, including when multiple users log in from the same device. This may include network and communication information, such as your IP address or mobile phone number, and other information about things like your internet service, operating system, location, the type (including identifiers) of the device or browser you use, or the pages you visit. For example, we may get your GPS or other location information so we can tell you if any of your friends are nearby, or we could request device information to improve how our apps work on your device. We receive data whenever you visit a game, application, or website that uses Facebook Platform or visit a site with a Facebook feature (such as a social plugin), sometimes through cookies. This may include the date and time you visit the site; the web address, or URL, you’re on; technical information about the IP address, browser and the operating system you use; and, if you are logged in to Facebook, your User ID. Sometimes we get data from our affiliates or our advertising partners, customers and other third parties that helps us (or them) deliver ads, understand online activity, and generally make Facebook better. For example, an advertiser may tell us information about you (like how you responded to an ad on Facebook or on another site) in order to measure the effectiveness of - and improve the quality of - ads. As described in “How we use the information we receive” we also put together data from the information we already have about you, your friends, and others, so we can offer and suggest a variety of services and features. For example, we may make friend suggestions, pick stories for your News Feed, or suggest

about you to, for example, tell you and your friends about people or events nearby, or offer deals to you in which you might be interested. We may also put together data about you to serve you ads or other content that might be more relevant to you. When we get your GPS location, we put it together with other location information we have about you (like your current city). But we only keep it until it is no longer useful to provide you services, like keeping your last GPS coordinates to send you relevant notifications. We only provide data to our advertising partners or customers after we have removed your name and any other personally identifying information from it, or have combined it with other people’s data in a way that it no longer personally identifies you. Public information When we use the phrase “public information” (which we sometimes refer to as “Everyone information”), we mean the information you choose to make public, as well as information that is always publicly available. Information you choose to make public Choosing to make your information public is exactly what it sounds like: anyone, including people off Facebook, will be able to see it. Learn more. Choosing to make your information public also means that this information: can be associated with you (i.e., your name, profile pictures, cover photos, timeline, User ID, username, etc.) even off Facebook; can show up when someone does a search on Facebook or on a public search engine; will be accessible to the Facebook-integrated games, applications, and websites you and your friends use; and will be accessible to anyone who uses our APIs such as our Graph API. Sometimes you will not be able to select an audience when you post something (like when you write on a Page’s wall or comment on a news article that uses our comments plugin). This is because some types of stories are always public stories. As a general rule, you should assume that if you do not see a sharing icon, the information will be publicly available. When others share information about you, they can also choose to make it public. Information that is always publicly available The types of information listed below are always publicly available, and they are treated just like information you decided to make public: Name: This helps your friends and family find you. If you are uncomfortable sharing your real name, you can always delete your account. Profile Pictures and Cover Photos: These help your friends and family recognize you. If you are uncomfortable making any of these photos public, you can always delete them. Unless you delete them, when you add a new profile picture or cover photo, the previous photo will remain public in your profile picture or cover photo album. Networks: This helps you see who you will be sharing information with before you choose “Friends and Networks” as a custom audience. If you are uncomfortable making your network public, you can leave the network. Gender: This allows us to refer to you properly. Username and User ID: These allow you to give out a custom link to your timeline or Page, receive email at your Facebook email address, and help make Facebook Platform possible. Usernames and User IDs Usernames and User IDs are the same thing – a way to identify you on Facebook. A User ID is a string of numbers and a username generally is some variation of your name. With your username, you get a custom link (a Facebook URL, such as www.facebook. com/username) to your timeline that you can give out to people or post on external websites. If someone has your Username or User ID, they can use it to access information about you through the facebook. com website. For example, if someone has your Username, they can type facebook.com/ Username into their browser and see your public information as well as anything else you’ve let them see. Similarly, someone with your Username or User ID can access information about you through our APIs, such as our Graph API. Specifically, they can access

mation to be accessible to Platform applications, you can turn off all Platform applications from your Privacy Settings. If you turn off Platform you will no longer be able to use any games or other applications until you turn Platform back on. For more information about the information that apps receive when you visit them, see Other websites and applications. If you want to see information available about you through our Graph API, just type https://graph.facebook.com/ [User ID or Username]?metadata=1 into your browser. Your Facebook email address includes your public username like so: username@facebook. com. People can use your Facebook email address to send you messages and anyone in a message conversation can reply to it. How we use the information we receive We use the information we receive about you in connection with the services and features we provide to you and other users like your friends, our partners, the advertisers that purchase ads on the site, and the developers that build the games, applications, and websites you use. For example, in addition to helping people see and find things that you do and share, we may use the information we receive about you: as part of our efforts to keep Facebook products, services and integrations safe and secure; to protect Facebook’s or others’ rights or property; to provide you with location features and services, like telling you and your friends when something is going on nearby; to measure or understand the effectiveness of ads you and others see, including to deliver relevant ads to you; to make suggestions to you and other users on Facebook, such as: suggesting that your friend use our contact importer because you found friends using it, suggesting that another user add you as a friend because the user imported the same email address as you did, or suggesting that your friend tag you in a picture they have uploaded with you in it; and for internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement. Granting us permission to use your information not only allows us to provide Facebook as it exists today, but it also allows us to provide you with innovative features and services we develop in the future that use the information we receive about you in new ways. While you are allowing us to use the information we receive about you, you always own all of your information. Your trust is important to us, which is why we don’t share information we receive about you with others unless we have: received your permission; given you notice, such as by telling you about it in this policy; or removed your name and any other personally identifying information from it. Of course, for information others share about you, they control how it is shared. We store data for as long as it is necessary to provide products and services to you and others, including those described above. Typically, information associated with your account will be kept until your account is deleted. For certain categories of data, we may also tell you about specific data retention practices. We may enable access to public information that has been shared through our services. We may allow service providers to access information so they can help us provide services. We are able to suggest that your friend tag you in a picture by scanning and comparing your friend’s pictures to information we’ve put together from your profile pictures and the other photos in which you’ve been tagged. If this feature is enabled for you, you can control whether we suggest that another user tag you in a photo using the “Timeline and Tagging” settings. Learn more at: https://www. facebook.com/help/tag-suggestions Deleting and deactivating your account If you want to stop using your account, you can either deactivate or delete it. Deactivate Deactivating your account puts your account on hold. Other users will no longer see your timeline, but we do not delete any of your informa-

reactivate your account at some point in the future. You can deactivate your account at: https://www.facebook. com/settings?tab=security Your friends will still see you listed in their list of friends while your account is deactivated. Deletion When you delete your account, it is permanently deleted from Facebook. It typically takes about one month to delete an account, but some information may remain in backup copies and logs for up to 90 days. You should only delete your account if you are sure you never want to reactivate it. You can delete your account at: https://www.facebook.com/help/contact.php?show_form=delete_account Learn more at: https:// w w w. f a c e b o o k . c o m / h e l p / ? faq=356107851084108 Certain information is needed to provide you with services, so we only delete this information after you delete your account. Some of the things you do on Facebook aren’t stored in your account, like posting to a group or sending someone a message (where your friend may still have a message you sent, even after you delete your account). That information remains after you delete your account. II. Sharing and finding you on Facebook Control each time you post Whenever you post content (like a status update, photo or check-in), you can select a specific audience, or even customize your audience. To do this, simply click on the sharing icon and choose who can see it. Choose this icon if you want to make something Public. Choosing to make something public is exactly what it sounds like. It means that anyone, including people off Facebook, will be able to see or access it. Choose this icon if you want to share with your Facebook Friends. Choose this icon if you want to Customize your audience. You can also use this to hide your story from specific people. If you tag someone, that person and their friends can see your story no matter what audience you selected. The same is true when you approve a tag someone else adds to your story. Always think before you post. Just like anything else you post on the web or send in an email, information you share on Facebook can be copied or re-shared by anyone who can see it. Although you choose with whom you share, there may be ways for others to determine information about you. For example, if you hide your birthday so no one can see it on your timeline, but friends post “happy birthday!” on your timeline, people may determine your birthday. When you comment on or “like” someone else’s story, or write on their timeline, that person gets to select the audience. For example, if a friend posts a Public story and you comment on it, your comment will be Public. Often, you can see the audience someone selected for their story before you post a comment; however, the person who posted the story may later change their audience. So, if you comment on a story, and the story’s audience changes, the new audience can see your comment. You can control who can see the Facebook Pages you’ve “liked” by visiting your timeline, clicking on the Likes box on your timeline, and then clicking “Edit.” Sometimes you will not see a sharing icon when you post something (like when you write on a Page’s wall or comment on a news article that uses our comments plugin). This is because some types of stories are always public stories. As a general rule, you should assume that if you do not see a sharing icon, the information will be publicly available. Control over your timeline Whenever you add things to your timeline you can select a specific audience, or even customize your audience. To do this, simply click on the sharing icon and choose who can see it. Choose this icon if you want to make something Public. Choosing to make something public is exactly what it sounds like. It means that anyone, including people off Facebook, will be able to see or access it. Choose this icon if you want to share with your Facebook Friends. Choose this icon if you want

When you select an audience for your friend list, you are only controlling who can see the entire list of your friends on your timeline. We call this a timeline visibility control. This is because your friend list is always available to the games, applications and websites you use, and your friendships may be visible elsewhere (such as on your friends’ timelines or in searches). For example, if you select “Only Me” as the audience for your friend list, but your friend sets her friend list to “Public,” anyone will be able to see your connection on your friend’s timeline. Similarly, if you choose to hide your gender, it only hides it on your timeline. This is because we, just like the applications you and your friends use, need to use your gender to refer to you properly on the site. When someone tags you in a story (such as a photo, status update or check-in), you can choose whether you want that story to appear on your timeline. You can either approve each story individually or approve all stories by your friends. If you approve a story and later change your mind, you can remove it from your timeline. When you hide things on your timeline, like posts or connections, it means those things will not appear on your timeline. But, remember, anyone in the audience of those posts or who can see a connection may still see it elsewhere, like on someone else’s timeline or in search results. You can also delete your posts or change the audience of content you post, which means you can remove people from or add people to the audience of the content. People on Facebook may be able to see mutual friends, even if they cannot see your entire list of friends. Some things (like your name, profile pictures and cover photos) do not have sharing icons because they are always publicly available. As a general rule, you should assume that if you do not see a sharing icon, the information will be publicly available. Finding you on Facebook To make it easier for your friends to find you, we allow anyone with your contact information (such as email address or telephone number) to find you through the Facebook search bar at the top of most pages, as well as other tools we provide, such as contact importers - even if you have not shared your contact information with them on Facebook. You can choose who can look up your timeline using the email address or telephone number you added to your timeline through your Privacy Settings. But remember that people can still find you or a link to your timeline on Facebook through other people and the things they share about you or through other posts, like if you are tagged in a friend’s photo or post something to a public page. Your settings do not control whether people can find you or a link to your timeline when they search for content they have permission to see, like a photo or other story in which you’ve been tagged. Access on phones and other devices Once you share information with your friends and others, they may be able to sync it with or access it via their mobile phones and other devices. For example, if you share a photo on Facebook, someone viewing that photo could save it using Facebook tools or by other methods offered by their device or browser. Similarly, if you share your contact information with someone or invite someone to an event, they may be able to use Facebook or third party applications or devices to sync that information. Or, if one of your friends has a Facebook application on one of their devices, your information (such as the things you post or photos you share) may be stored on or accessed by their device. You should only share information with people you trust because they will be able to save it or re-share it with others, including when they sync the information to a device. Activity log Your activity log is a place where you can go to view most of your information on Facebook, including things you’ve hidden from your timeline. You can use this log to manage your content. For example, you can do things like delete stories, change the audience of your stories or stop an application from publishing to your timeline on your behalf. When you hide something

News Feed. If you want to delete a story you posted, choose the delete option. What your friends and others share about you Links and Tags Anyone can add a link to a story. Links are references to something on the Internet; anything from a website to a Page or timeline on Facebook. For example, if you are writing a story, you might include a link to a blog you are referencing or a link to the blogger’s Facebook timeline. If someone clicks on a link to another person’s timeline, they’ll only see the things that they are allowed to see. A tag is a special type of link to someone’s timeline that suggests that the tagged person add your story to their timeline. In cases where the tagged person isn’t included in the audience of the story, it will add them so they can see it. Anyone can tag you in anything. Once you are tagged, you and your friends will be able to see it (such as in News Feed or in search). You can choose whether a story you’ve been tagged in appears on your timeline. You can either approve each story individually or approve all stories by your friends. If you approve a story and later change your mind, you can always remove it from your timeline. If you do not want someone to tag you, we encourage you to reach out to them and give them that feedback. If that does not work, you can block them. This will prevent them from tagging you going forward. Social reporting is a way for people to quickly and easily ask for help from someone they trust. Learn more at: https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_ id=196124227075034&__ adt=3&__att=iframe If you are linked to in a private space (such as a message or a group) only the people who can see the private space can see the link. Similarly, if you are linked to a comment, only the people who can see the comment can see the link. Other information As described in the “what your friends and others share about you” section of this policy, your friends and others may share information about you. They may share photos or other information about you and tag you in their posts. If you do not like a particular post, tell them or report the post. Groups Once you are in a Group, anyone in that Group can add you to a subgroup. When someone adds you to a Group, you will be listed as “invited” until you visit the Group. You can always leave a Group, which will prevent others from adding you to it again. Pages Facebook Pages are public pages. Companies use Pages to share information about their products. Celebrities use Pages to talk about their latest projects. And communities use Pages to discuss topics of interest, everything from baseball to the opera. Because Pages are public, information you share with a Page is public information. This means, for example, that if you post a comment on a Page, that comment may be used by the Page owner off Facebook, and anyone can see it. When you “like” a Page, you create a connection to that Page. The connection is added to your timeline and your friends may see it in their News Feeds. You may be contacted by or receive updates from the Page, such as in your News Feed and your messages. You can remove the Pages you’ve “liked” through your timeline or on the Page. Some Pages contain content that comes directly from the Page owner. Page owners can do this through online plugins, such as an iframe, and it works just like the games and other applications you use through Facebook. Because this content comes directly from the Page owner, that Page may be able to collect information about you, just like any website. Page administrators may have access to insights data, which will tell them generally about the people that visit their Page (as opposed to information about specific people). They may also know when you’ve made a connection to their Page because you’ve liked their Page or posted a comment. To control who can see the Facebook Pages you’ve liked, visit our Help Center. III. Other websites and applications

mation with the games, app cations, and websites you a your friends use. Facebo Platform also lets you br your friends with you, so y can connect with them Facebook. In these two wa Facebook Platform helps y make your experiences the web more personaliz and social. Remember that these gam applications and websites a created and maintained other businesses and dev opers who are not part or controlled by, Facebo so you should always ma sure to read their terms service and privacy polic to understand how they tre your data. Controlling what informat you share with applications When you connect with game, application or webs - such as by going to a gam logging in to a website us your Facebook account, adding an app to your timel - we give the game, applic tion, or website (sometim referred to as just “applic tions” or “apps”) your ba info (we sometimes call t your “public profile”), wh includes your User ID and yo public information. We a give them your friends’ Us IDs (also called your frie list) as part of your basic inf Your friend list helps t application make your exp rience more social becau it lets you find your frien on that application. Yo User ID helps the applicat personalize your experien because it can connect yo account on that applicat with your Facebook accou and it can access your ba info, which includes your pu lic information and friend li This includes the informat you choose to make pub as well as information that always publicly available. If t application needs additio information, such as yo stories, photos or likes, it w have to ask you for speci permission. The “Apps” setting lets y control the applications y use. You can see the perm sions you have given the applications, the last ti an application accessed yo information, and the audien on Facebook for timeline s ries and activity the applic tion posts on your behalf. Y can also remove applicatio you no longer want, or tu off all Platform applicatio When you turn all Platfo applications off, your User is no longer given to applic tions, even when your frien use those applications. B you will no longer be able use any games, applications websites through Facebook When you first visit an a Facebook lets the app kn your language, your count and whether you are in an a group, for instance, under 1 between 18-20, or 21 a over. Age range lets ap provide you with age-approp ate content. If you install t app, it can access, store a update the information you shared. Apps you’ve instal can update their records your basic info, age ran language and country. If y haven’t used an app in a wh you should consider remov it. Once you remove an app won’t be able to continue update the additional inform tion you’ve given them perm sion to access, but it may s hold the information you ha already shared. You always c contact the app directly a request that they delete yo data. Learn more at: https www.facebook.com/help/ho apps-work Sometimes a game conso mobile phone, or other dev might ask for permission share specific informat with the games and applic tions you use on that devi If you say okay, those applic tions will not be able to acce any other information abo you without asking speci permission from you or yo friends. Sites and apps that u Instant Personalizat receive your User ID and frie list when you visit them. You always can remove ap you’ve installed by us your app settings at: https www.facebook.com/se tings/?tab=applications. B remember, apps may still able to access your inf mation when the people y share with use them. And you’ve removed an applicat and want it to delete the inf mation you’ve already shar with it, you should contact t application. Visit the applic tion’s page on Facebook its own website to learn mo about the app. For examp Apps may have reasons (e legal obligations) to ret some data that you sha

Acceleration Towards Cloud Feudalisms








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Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

Illuminated Cities


I llu mI n a te d c It I e s



Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

Illuminated Cities

the acclaImed Bavarian filmmaker Werner Herzog was once invited to a film festival in Milano, Italy where he screened Lessons of Darkness, a science-fiction film based on footage he took of oil fires that transformed parts of the small desert kingdom of Kuwait into a haunting alien hellscape covered in iridescent oceans of black goo and skies eternally engulfed in flames. After the screening, one of audience members stood up and asked Herzog to comment about the Absolute. What followed was a sprawling and improvised philosophical speech167 whose main thesis furnishes a conceptual foundation for this chapter:

How important, really, is the Factual? Of course, we can’t disregard the factual; it has normative power. But it can never give us the kind of illumination, the ecstatic flash, from which Truth emerges.

Thus far we have painted the potential future of smart cities in broad, and at times very dark strokes—a world just as alien as those found in any number of cautionary science fiction films and dystopian novels. Unlike the ardent disciples of Ubikquity, we do not believe that the past or present development of city discourses can be used to verifiably predict our future urbanisms. In its quest to optimize out all the inefficiencies of urban spaces (i.e. the people themselves), the smart city is sold as a kind of utopia where Ubikquity is used as philosopher’s stone to reveal the true ‘soul’ of the city, sate our desires, and unleash our hidden potential through tech-based behavioral modification. Smart city projects have 148


Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

been successful in a limited sense, but Ubikquity still cannot account for the irreducible complexity of human beings.

Illuminated Cities

Today’s transport technologies are not only too inefficient to scale to our future needs; they’re not sophisticated and flexible enough to cope with the complexity and variety of demand.

The truth about utopian or dystopian visions of the future can be found in their very definition: they are musings, complete fictions. If you’ve made it this far and expected that the penultimate chapter of this book would contain a detailed manifesto of how to more or less save the world, you would be wrong. In our view, there is no such thing as generalized, ready-made solutions to humanity’s problems. Though our genetic make up is 99.9 percent identical, the cultures, social norms, communities and individuals that make up our society are as unique and diversified as the clade of insects on the tree of life.

> cities are made up of individuals with dreams for the future and concerns about their local community and a world that at times seems imPossible to change. Ubikquity has allowed people to communicate with each other more than ever before, yet modernity has left many people with an increased sense of uncertainty, anxiety, isolation and alienation168. As we become increasingly reliant on the convenient, yet impersonal modes of digital communication afforded to us by computers and smart devices we may be losing a bit of the intimacy and depth of social communion and physical correspondence. In an age of extreme connectivity, what becomes important is not what, but who we are connected to. Realistically, we cannot return to the atavistic life styles of our agrarian ancestors. Our progress into the future will require further advances in technology, but we cannot allow Ubikquity or a small cadre of technologists and entrepreneurs to define that future for us. Digital technologies do not just make it easier for us to communicate and share information wherever we are: those interactions create new opportunities to meet in person and to exchange goods and services; this creates new requirements for transport. Additionally, 3D printing, open-source manufacturing and smallscale energy generation within larger clustered grid geometries make it possible to carry out traditional industrial activities at smaller scales. According to Robinson some bulk movement patterns will be removed by thousands of smaller, peerto-peer interactions created by transactions in online marketplaces169. We can already see the effects of this trend in the vast growth of the traffic of goods that are purchased or exchanged online. Within this context, new challenges appear: digital technology will not only increase our desire to travel, but heighten its complexity. 150

>> A wall of the “Before I Die” project by Candy Chang

The question of what we want our future urban spaces to look like cannot be separated from what kind of people we aspire to be, the kinds of social relations and lifestyles we deem fruitful, or redefining our relationship with the natural environment. As Harvey points out, “We must move beyond the rights of individual or group access to resources that the city embodies: it’s the right to change and re-invent the city more after our hearts desire… the freedom to make and remake ourselves and our cities is… one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights170.” This reflects on Lefebvre’s ‘right to the city’, the previously mentioned ‘right to infrastructure’, and to what we suggest to call the ‘right to empowered Ubikquity’. It allows us to escape the human-nonhuman/ epistemology-ontology dichotomy altogether by opening-up the agential work of infrastructures, the living environment, and Ubikquity as (open) sources of possibilities in their own right134. 151

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Combining the physical city as a construct, the digital city in the management of its flows, and using engineering skills and creativity to empower (end-)user control will play a key part in realizing intelligent metropolitan solutions that are superior to the current ‘smart’ approach. We should lay the Smart CityTM to rest and move towards the Illuminated City. Though we admit that we are using the utopian ‘[insert interesting adjective here] city’ trope that we have criticized in length in our rebuttal, the illuminated city serves as a useful handle to differentiate our vision from other city discourses. It is not a generalized prescription to cure all urban ills; urban problems may be similar but are myriad in form, extremely complex, and can only be truly understood and solved by urban dwellers and local governments themselves. The illuminated city is an alternative to technological solutionism and corporate urban spaces that monitor and placate citizens into passive, corporeal peripherals of Ubikquity. Illuminated cities are citizen-focused, communitydefined, open-source cities that harness technology to enhance democracy and distributed governance, support individual and collective autonomy, community participation in urban planning, and enshrine the citizen’s right to privacy and protection from commodification. Technology must be used to support agonism 152

>> Urban air conditioners in

Madrid based on renewables by EcoSistema Urbana

rather than hyper rational, consensus-based governance that eschews debate between opposing views. From an agonistic perspective, democracy is a situation where the facts, beliefs and practices of society are forever examined and confronted, and for it to flourish, spaces of confrontation must exist and contestation must occur171. The illuminated city harnesses ICT to illuminate truths of urban life that are not absolute or self-evident in sensor collected data, but generated and understood through the continuous physical interaction of human beings within urban spaces. And finally, the illuminated city uses technology to reveal the unseen relations between urban communities and the wider natural systems that support them.

FROM URBAN CONSUMERS TO SMART CITIZENS Many of inequalities found in cities are the result of an economic system that rewards capital, speed and greed over more humanistic concerns. Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic Slavoj ŽiŽek observed that in the modern era global capitalism has more or less been accepted as the only way forward, yet simultaneously our media and culture are obsessed with cosmic catastrophes like zombies, deadly viruses, the rise of AI machines or an asteroid hitting the earth172. Even renowned physicist Stephen Hawking and serial entrepreneur Elon Musk have warned about the possibility of the extermination of the human race as a consequence of artificial intelligence. It seems that we can more easily imagine the end to all life on earth than the more modest task of creating an ethical economic 153

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system. For now, the altruism of capitalism will be left for the reader to decide. The first step towards the creation of illuminated cities is the creation of social, political, and economic infrastructures that support the growth of smart citizens. This must begin with an overhaul of publically funded educational institutions. Despite rapid advances in technology, today’s primary schools, secondary schools, and universities generally run on the same archaic factory-model inherited from 19th century Prussia that focuses on the efficient and standardized production of workers. This educational philosophy entails ridged bell schedules, credit requirements, age-based grade levels, institutional hierarchies, a lack of personalization, the separation of science, engineering and mathematics from the social sciences and humanities, and a zealous focus on specialization. Our institutions need to prepare the youth for a technology-dominated future where creativity and social skills will be paramount. While most people in developed countries are computer literate, they are completely clueless about the actual semantics and architecture of the ICT systems that define modernity. Similar to what is being done in Estonia173, national governments should mandate computer coding and programming skills as part of the core curriculum within primary 154

> the first step towards the creation of illuminated cities is the creation of social, political, and economic infrastructures that support the growth of smart citizens

and possibly even secondary schools. Considering that nearly half of labor could be automated within the next 25 years, national governments should fund vocational programs that offer the possibility of learning technology skills to all citizens—but especially the poor, immigrant communities and the elderly—to help them adapt to the realities of a job future market. Additionally, within the context of plutocratisation and capital-biased technical change, consideration should be given to the implementation of a universal basic income, sharedjob programs, higher taxes on corporations, investments and high

earners, and a (gradual) transition from Value Added Tax to Carbon Added Tax (from VAT to CAT) to stem rising levels in income inequality and environmental degradation. The increased deployment of ubikquitous technologies in urban space offers a new approach to the study of the built environment and the conception of urban solutions. The way we describe and understand cities is being radically transformed, as are the tools we use to design, plan, and manage them. A new field of research and development in applied technology is emerging at the crossroads of the physical and digital sides of the urban domain that focuses on the creation of unique, contemporary and vibrant shared environments for discovery and innovation. These ‘community innovation incubators’ would function as a place where the brightest, most entrepreneurial talents in technology and design come together with citizens to find real world solutions that will transform cities towards prosperous, dynamic and adaptive living environments. More encompassing changes such as systems innovations (change on the 155

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level of a technological system174) and transitions (i.e. reconfigurations of societal systems and technological systems that they encompass) will be needed to cope with future ubik-fueled adaptations175,176. According to Guest and Skerlos, “The primary problem we face is not the availability of technology, but the lack of a socio-technological planning and design methodology to identify and deploy the most sustainable solution in a given geographic and cultural context177.” We propose that at the university level, design-oriented students within the faculties of science, engineering, architecture, and technology should be required to take non-design social science and humanities courses that support a systems thinking approach, such as psychology, anthropology, sociology, development, philosophy or ecology. Studies have shown that design students primed to think in terms of systems who receive additional training in non-design disciplines tend to come up with more innovative and sustainable solutions178 than design students only primed to think like efficiency-maximizing engineers14038. An engineer that is morally guided, conscious of social problems and is engaged in a community is more likely to consider design factors beyond efficiency than otherwise. As the Spanish philosopher Josè Ortega y Gasset once said, “to be an engineer...is not enough to be an engineer179.”

Illuminated Cities

In a relative way, our limited knowledge and organization has created a barrier to envisioning potentially radical urban solutions. Röling states that ‘cognition’ (perception, emotion/affection and acting) should have a more central role in our current infrastructures182,183. He claims that the survival of humanity is connected with man’s talent to change paradigms and to deal with that change effectively (adapted from Kuhn184). This goes beyond just ‘adaptation’. Additionally, a resource-based perspective should be taken into account from the moment of the initiative and design. Within such a process, relevant parties can focus on any uncertainties or potential unexpected incidents to find alternative possibilities for the design and/or the arrangement of their own (living) environment while promoting subconscious strategies, incorporating aspects of improvisation, and gaining collaborative experience. Improvisation is the concertino of action as it unfolds, drawing on available material, cognitive, affective and social resources185. Five phases of the translation of cognition into ‘ecological rationality’ can be distinguished182: > Control > Adaptation > Learning


> Improvement (evolution/innovation) > Change with feedback

It goes without saying that adapting our cities and our selves to cope with a future where scarcity and fleeting job opportunities becomes the norm will require determination, foresight, and that indelible skill that has become subsumed and commoditized by marketing and business circles but is none the less important: creativity. But to what ends? Renowned science-fiction writer and educator Isaac Azimov once wrote an essay concerning creativity and how Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace came up with the theory of evolution. Apart from their scientific backgrounds and travels, he says the most important thing was their ability to make ‘cross-connections’: Obviously, then, what is needed is not only people with a good background in a particular field, but also people capable of making a connection between item 1 and item 2 which might not ordinarily seem connected… Making the cross-connection requires a certain daring. It must, for any cross-connection that does not require daring is performed at once by many and develops not as a ‘new idea,’ but as a mere ‘corollary of an old idea 180 . 156

To this end, smart cities are a corollary of an old idea rather than anything particularly new. Truly radical urban solutions require stepping out of our specialized boxes and adopt a new design methodology that illuminates these not so obvious ‘cross-connections’. In his book Adversarial Design (2013), Carl DiSalvo has outlined an almost counterintuitive agonistic design philosophy. According to DiSalvo, “To claim that adversarial design does the work of agonism means that designed objects can function to prompt recognition of political issues and relations, express dissensus and enable contestational claims and arguments173.” His examples of adversarial design include browser extensions that tell you how much funding universities get from the military industrial complex when you visit their website; an interactive map that illustrates which city blocks have the most residence incarcerated and the cost to tax payers as opposed to simply pointing out where crimes occur; and an umbrella that flashes lights in a sequence to scramble facial recognition software. One of the most memorable and poignant examples is Natural Fuse, an art project designed by architect Usman Haque that promotes systems thinking 157

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Illuminated Cities

and narrative imagination140 to encourage users to think about the effects and ethics of off-setting carbon.

contests. Its design is used not to provide energy efficient solutions, but actually problematize and maximize deliberation between participants. As Morozov points out, “It provides a second-order, superior visibility: not only do we know how much carbon we need to sink to offset the electricity we use, but we actually know how much sacrifice—by us and by other people—is needed to sink that carbon140.”

<< Natural Fuse by Usman Haque


Natural Fuse is a collection of plants that are covered in specialized sensors, connected a computer network, and plugged into an electrical outlet. The system is effectively a buffer between electrical appliances and their power source. The plants act as a carbon sink, so essentially the energy emitted from the socket is limited to the amount of carbon the plants can sequester; this usually lasts at most a few minutes. Interestingly enough, the system is scalable, so your neighbors or anyone connected to the computer network could participate. Additionally, each individual plant can be switched to either an ‘off’, ‘selfless’, or ‘selfish’ mode. Once your appliance stops receiving energy, you can turn on ‘selfish’ mode and ‘borrow’ carbon allotments from other plants that are connected to the central sever granted they are in selfless mode themselves. If your plant becomes too selfish it can ‘kill’ other plants, causing the network to send participating users an e-mail about your heinous transgression. If your plant kills three other plants Natural Fuse automatically douses it in vinegar and kills it in real life. Though somewhat complex, Natural Fuse is a novel collection of technologies that brings the tragedy of the commons into the home by asking us if it is reasonable to be continually pursuing our individual desires or work towards the common good of the plants/our neighbors. Natural Fuse is by no means a steady state or consensus-based system; rather, it encourages participants to engage in 158

The uncertainty around future climate and urbanization patterns calls for a revision of the relationships around ubikquitous and conventional physical infrastructure with an emphasis on more malleable possibilities186. Sometimes addressed as the dilemma of certainty versus legitimacy, it is quite apparent that intelligent infrastructural investments will influence the future trajectory of urban sustainability. What is important is that social interests are balanced in a sufficiently explicit and integral way. ‘Malleable infrastructures’ offer a distinctive way of thinking about the relationship between infrastructure and its position in the urban realm and tends to result in more sustainable and just outcomes133. At one level, we argue that major infrastructure projects unfold over time and space through phases of design, consultation and implementation, and that they will continually undergo significant changes in response to practical challenges and changes in context. This is sometimes referred to as the dilemma of speed (or time) versus quality. The slowness in changing systems or in carrying out new projects is due to time-consuming decision making procedures of local governments. Nevertheless, it cannot be scientifically proven that decision time can be called a problem. In general, an approach based on empowerment, as suggested here, is considered in better agreement with participation, quality, and legitimacy than it is with efficiency, speed, and certainty. It is important however to realize that these dilemmas do not always imply contrasts: faster decision-making may enhance the legitimacy (and topicality) of a decision and attempts to reach a commitment through participation103. As Dimitriou187 argues, infrastructure projects need to be conceived as ’organic phenomena’ that are subject to change rather than ‘static engineering objects’. It can be argued that the same holds for Ubikquity. The question to be answered then is whether the way governments and real estate developers manage infrastructure and data fully encompasses their potential for malleability, and if not, what might that involve? As concluded in Chapter 2 and Chapter 3, the complexity of infrastructures and urban environments is growing while the effectiveness of action-driven 159

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strategies (i.e. positive liberty) to alter and change them appears to be decreasing. The illuminated city approach emphasizes the importance of improving the overall fitness of networks (social and technical) so that thresholds, wherever and whenever they might be, are kept as far away as possible. Therefore, it is important to consider the application of alternative approaches: (1) strategies of inaction; (2) strategies of subtraction; or (3) strategies of hormesis188,189 that keep their subject areas (cities, neighborhoods, communities, etc.) under a small, controlled, and continuous dosage of stress with the purpose of strengthening local networks for the eventuality of future shocks. An actual example of the hormesis strategy is the city of Venice. Hormesis may be rooted in the first two if inaction or subtraction causes deprivation, especially when it consciously induces lower-than-usual levels in relative comfort of living190. Generally, the study of networks is part of the field of science called complexity theory, as introduced in Chapter 3. One very essential concept to complexity theory is the complex adaptive system (CAS) and its characteristics of emergence and self-organization. Emergence refers to patterns and meaningful order that emerge spontaneously out of the interaction of parts within a complex system. These patterns are identified by accumulative change over time and can occur at different scales, for casual reasons, and are usually difficult to predict (e.g. the shape of a flock of birds moving in the sky versus the collective will of the global economy). Self-organization refers to how complex order arises from the interaction of agents or components in an initially disordered system. A key element of CASs is that they have multiple potential equilibriums. From this perspective, on the macro-scale the city serves as the perfect example of a CAS, where urban dwellers fulfill the role of agents and express behavior based on internal schemas (desires, actions, beliefs) and external rules imposed by both society (laws, culture) and the physical environment (streets, parks, rivers, etc.). Furthermore, the emergent features of CASs can be found on the micro scale in BUIs and community building projects that are equally relevant in describing urban forms at the district and city levels36. We propose that an illuminated city encourages citizen-led, bottom-up initiatives (BUIs) —from the perspective of the four mentioned strategies, preferably hormesis—that focus on sustainability and social inclusion and urban planning policies that give communities more control in designing the public spaces they interact in. This is not some baseless fantasy, as thousands of citizenled projects are already popping up all around the world.


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In her book From The Ground Up191, Efrat Eizenberg did a study of 650 community gardens in New York City that are collectively managed by some of the city’s poorest residents. These gardens not only increased urban sustainability, but also taught horticulture skills and acted as a public space for recreation, social gatherings and cultural events. A 40-minute subway ride away in Queens, The Beachside Bungalow Preservation Association is a community initiative that began 30 years ago with the simple objective of creating sand dunes and planting native flora and community gardens near the shore to restore the local coastal ecosystem to its original state192. As a second order effect, these dune environments protected large stretches of local neighborhoods from the deluge of floodwater that caused $19 Billion in damage and grief elsewhere after hurricane Sandy. In the Netherlands, you can find BUIs in the fields of community-based renewable energy generation, carbon footprint reduction and urban agriculture, such as ‘Oranje Energie’ in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, ‘Uit je eigen stad’ in Rotterdam and Amsterdam, and several newly founded local energy service companies (ESCo’s) in Haarlemmermeer, Venlo Green Port and Texel.


Ubikquity & the Illuminated City

Such initiatives are increasingly supported by social development platforms like the Amsterdam Waag Society and research institutes like the Amsterdam Institute of Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS). AMS is a newly launched jointresearch institute between TU Delft, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Wageningen University that aims to find new ways to activate such CASs within cities through studying BUIs, promoting systems thinking, placemaking, pragmatic design, and creating strong networks through ‘diffusion-limited aggregation’ (DLA). This implies that projects are tied together within a structure supporting flexible and continuous processes of change. These kinds of platforms are looking for ways to ‘connect the dots’ between individual and community efforts and create ‘swarms’ of nested urban BUIs networks so that they avoid the risk of remaining localized niches. In the end, BUIs are ‘smart’ not because they are borne of technology; they are intelligent because they solve multiple urban problems like social capital, sustainability, urban resilience and community spirit all at once. Then again, ICT platforms cannot be completely discounted because they have been used to create powerful participatory platforms 162

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that have had real impacts on local communities

<< Girls pondering the Neighborland proposal board

>> Rooftop farming at Greenpoint farm in New York City

>> Community gardening in Oakland, California

>> Uit je Eigen Stad in Rotterdam

Neighborland is an online platform/public installation tool developed by social designer Candy Chang in collaboration with Tulane University to encourage civic collaboration in New Orleans, Louisiana. Organizations can post questions and crowd source ideas from locals about real world projects that are being built or that they want built in their communities193. Each idea submitted has a dedicated page where people can share knowledge, updates, resources, meeting times, etc. The web page is complimented with signs in public spaces to make the design process more inclusive and engaging. Neighborland was so successful that it has been rolled out across the entire US. There is similar online planning platform called Brickstarter. According to their website, “We are sketching a system that would enable everyday people, using everyday technology and culture, to articulate and progress sustainable ideas about their community194.” They aim to be a digital platform that makes citizen-based urban planning a reality where new urban initiatives can utilize social media to be more responsive, representative, and educative by transforming grass roots urban proposals into viable projects. Offficina is a Madrid-based collaborative architecture platform that opens up a particular form of ambient intelligence in the city. Such ambient intelligence was not so much an enhancement effect of a particular set of digital or technological interfaces as a wholesale urban event in its own right. It reconfigured the city’s ecology not only by enlisting new types of intelligences into its relational fabric, 163

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> a collection of data, geeKs and start-uPs does not make city smart; collaborative digital platforms that illuminate citizens and urban communities to become self-determined and tackle urban problems will.

but more ambitiously by radically subverting the very status of such an ecology as an epistemic form134. In the Netherlands, there are a number of artists and designers who have recognized the limits of the imagination within urban planning and have decided to take things into their own hands and put them into ours. Temp. is an architecture firm that has observed that there is a lot of vacant space and real estate, even in Holland, and is attempting to re-envision these stagnant spaces as flexible areas of development195. Urhahn Urban Design has developed a concept along similar lines called the ‘Spontaneous City’ that focuses on small-scale initiatives by local businesses and communities as the most effective method of regenerating neighborhoods and transforming abandoned government buildings and vacant offices into new businesses and/or communal spaces196. The ‘Gamification’ trend popular within Silicon Valley start-ups has found its way to Holland and has been applied to urban planning. Play the City is an Amsterdam and Istanbul-based ‘City Gaming Company’ that posits new methods of urban planning based on interactive digital platforms and gaming. According to their website, “We integrate city gaming, digital public polls, interactive learning, co-design and social networks with traditional architecture and urbanism. We work with cities, housing corporations and cultural organizations to generate interactive and collaborative plans with multiple stakeholders197.” Artists Jeanne van Heeswijk and Maaike van Engelen have developed a platform called Face Your World, an interactive 3-D multi-user platform that allows children to investigate and adapt their living environment198. It was later used to design in collaboration with locals a virtual representation of a park they wanted in their Amsterdam neighborhood. Eventually, the design was used to persuade local planning officials to replace the city’s original plan. A similar project called Mobile City is an independent research group launched in 2007 by Martijn de Waal and Michiel de Lange that investigates this relationship 164

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between digital media technologies and urban life, and the implications for urban design. According to their website, they “focus lies on the role of digital media technologies in the social and political domains of urban life199.” They organize events, lectures, and workshops and collaborate with individuals and professionals who have interests in digital media and urban culture from disciplines like architecture and urbanism, media, design, technology and urban policy. One such event was an app contest where they asked web developers to use Amsterdam’s city data to develop useful mobile applications. Similar sorts of contests have been organized in San Francisco, Dublin, Edmonton, Portland, Washington D.C. and New York with mixed results74. Most apps were mundane, with only a few examples that were actually scalable and successful in the long run because the programmers failed to identify the needs of citizens themselves, but this is not always the case. Let’s consider the city of Boston, where former major Tom Menino created a taskforce to prototype new forms of civic technology called the Office of New Urban Mechanics that piloted a number of successful web applications to enhance digital democracy and civic engagement200. SoChange is web platform that took inspiration from online games to encourage community engagement en vivo and include residents in local urban planning. On the surface it nudged residents to shop in local shopping districts. As an added bonus, local businesses that profited from the app used the platform to ask residents how they should direct part of their in-store profits towards community projects they want to see. This resulted in summer jobs for youths and greening of businesses. All of the aforementioned platforms are examples small-scale web applications that have had verifiable impacts on the urban environment while being relatively low-tech and low cost. Instead of smart innovation being businessfocused, digital democracy and participatory urban planning is more accountable to local politics while empowering citizens to be creative and take the city into their own hands. A collection of data, geeks and start-ups does not make city smart; collaborative digital platforms that illuminate citizens and urban communities to become self-determined and tackle urban problems will. That being said, democratization of urbanity through participatory urban planning platforms is a very important but a small part of truly transforming our cities for the future. Truly innovative projects that push our urbanisms into new territory may be beyond the purview of the masses and therefore never gain traction in strictly populist schemes. A more concrete example would be the case of De Ceuvel in Amsterdam. If the municipal government used a platform like Neighborland to crowd-source idea from locals in Noord of what should be done with this open space, visionary plans like De Ceuvel would probably not of made 165

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it high on the list. Therefore, local governments should incorporate elements of participatory urban planning with progressive polices that encourage ambitious people to experiment with urban forms.



DE CEUVEL De Ceuvel is a bio-remediating workspace for creative and social enterprises located on formally polluted land in Amsterdam Noord. The brainchild of a collection of architects, landscapers, sustainability experts and entrepreneurs, it is considered “one of the most sustainable and unique urban developments in Europe 201 .” The site consists of old houseboats that have been craned onto land and refitted with systems for renewable electricity, heating, water, wastewater, nutrient recovery and food production.


One of Ubikquity’s biggest drawbacks is that it is not designed to protect the privacy of users. As the urban environment becomes digitized we will inevitably be tracked more. The question is if there is a way to balance technological convenience with one of our most basic human rights, or, should privacy simply become another vestige of the past that must be disrupted in the name of progress? This is an ongoing debate with legal scholars, technologists, citizens and politicians, but there are really only two things people can do to fight back. First, people can use technical safeguards such as encrypted e-mail and Internet browsing via TOR or VPNs to protect their data. There are peripherals like Cyborg Unplug, a unique anti-wireless device that can detect unwanted device like surveillance drones, Google Glass, hidden cameras, unknown Bluetooth devices, and wireless signals and disconnect them from your local network202. If citizens are concerned about their privacy they need to petition their governments to say no to unwarranted surveillance by the likes of the NSA and social media companies and update privacy laws to meet the needs of the digital age. At the very least, citizens should be aware of what kind of data is being taken from them and by who. In an illuminated city, local governments will need to enact data and privacy laws themselves that can somehow ensure that data obtained through public sensors in the urban environment are secured on ‘local’ servers and protected from unauthorized third party organizations. They will also need local platforms for cross party collaboration between citizens, the city, public institutions and entrepreneurs. Creating neutral data handling platforms is essential since new urban solutions invariably involve a multi-party and multi-technology complexity with an active involvement of multiple stakeholders, private and public. This might eventually lead to the creation of local, national and international ‘privacy agencies’ with independent power and fact-finding functions but no regulatory authority203. Furthermore, the creation of smart citizens through life long technology education would empower people to perhaps program their own mobile apps or computer applications to protect their privacy or, better still, create neighborhood-level data networks to serve community needs with custom router firewalls and non-web based data transfer technology like NFC and Bluetooth.


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Illuminated Cities

INTEROPERABILITY AND OPEN SOURCE Smart devices by and large are considered platforms that enable access to a variety of web applications, but are they really? Computer technology used to be hardware stacks that allowed for third-party software solutions to be built upon them. Nowadays, Smart devices and smart city technology are more like appliances, objects with inherently planned obsolesce that do what the manufacturer intends and only work with hardware and services tailored to that particular manufacturer. The wonders of ICTs are plainly understood, but what they lack is interpolation that allows consumers to have full control over the services those devices support and consume. The world cannot be segregated into IBM cities, Siemens cities and Cisco cities that refuse to speak to each other. If we want to see a future where our devices and cities can freely interpolate and where people have ultimate control over what they do with those devices and the services they connect to, a stand must be made. Otherwise we will stay on the current path where innovation (see Chapter 10) is a means of maximizing profits over human potential.

>> District Vauban in Freiburg, an area of “plus” energy homes, meaning they generate more energy than they consume

As an alternative to the closed-garden smart infrastructure development that restricts innovation to the whims of multinational IT companies that charge cities annual consulting and maintenance fees, illuminated cities take inspiration from Linux and Wikipedia. The EU ought to fund research into intelligent infrastructure, hardware and software platforms that are non-proprietary, free to use, opensource, collaborative and completely interoperable with all smart devices. Instead of all encompassing ‘smart city in-a-box’, an open source route would lower development, implementation and maintenance costs and allow civic hackers and local governments to customize hardware and software to the particular needs of their communities—that is if a technological solution is determined to actually be best course of action.

>> Nieuw Leyden is a new residential district in the city of Leiden that encourages residents to start their own development projects on the site. 168


afterword In setting out to write this book, throughout months of meetings and discussions, it became clear that we are part of a growing number of scientists, activists, politicians and entrepreneurs with divergent ideologies trying to comprehend and tackle the most complex and difficult problems our species have ever faced: hyper urbanization, economic inequality, rampant consumption of nonrenewable resources and the degradation of natural environment. Some have argued (e.g. proponents of smart cities) that the only way forward is to ramp up industrialization and innovate our way out of scarcity, as we have done before. Others claim that in order to save the planet industrial civilization must be halted full stop—something as ludicrous as jumping out of speeding racecar midrace. Whatever ideology you adhere to, the truth is that any path that ensures the survival of both our species and the planet means that the anthrosphere must undergo radical and large-scale transformation—perhaps a transformation even more drastic than the shift from agrarian to industrial (hu)man. The key thing to realize is that nothing happens over night and that people themselves are the key to real and lasting solutions. Retrofitting our cities with smart sensors, installing new energy systems and carbon sequestration technology, or testing new strains of genetically modified crops that can save millions of lives will take time and—most dauntingly—money, and a lot of it. We are asking ourselves to do something that is seemingly unnatural in the animal world. If the ecological destruction caused by invasive species like rabbits in Australia, Zebra Mussels in the Great Lakes, Kudzu vines in the American Southeast and the Asian Carp in the Mississippi River serve as any example, given the right baseline conditions, organisms tend to overrun their environments at the expense of all other creatures. Humans are no different. What’s more, we have evolved socially to focus on immediate, short-term problems with local impacts over long-term and abstract concepts like climate change or things that happen to the ‘other’ far way. To this end, it may be a bit difficult to convince a family in Abu Dhabi to empathize and sacrifice their material comfort to save the lives of lemurs in Madagascar or nomadic tribes in Sub-Saharan Africa. Knowing this set of unsettling facts, it seems that our species is destined to selfdestruction, its engrained in our DNA—right? Not so fast. Consider four institutions that have been part of our culture since time immemorial: slavery, the divine right of kings, perpetual war and 171

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patriarchy. These four horsemen have been at the core of society for 99 percent of our history, to the point where it seemed that they were as permanent and infallible as the laws of thermodynamics. To be sure, if you went back in time to Amsterdam in 1800 and told a Dutch merchant that in the year 2014 slavery would be abolished, Europe would be at peace, gay people could marry and that everyone, including women, had the right to vote, he would laugh right in your face and look at you as if you were mad, yet here we are. In the last two centuries alone our society has undergone unprecedented and profound changes time and time again. No cultural institutions, even capitalism—the dogma that simultaneously nurtures the innovations that have improved the lives of billions while stifling technology’s full potential by tying innovation not to what is possible, but to what is profitable—is safe from the malleability and ingenuity of human beings. That being said, there are no guarantees. We have definitely messed up in the past, but we had an excuse: we were ignorant and there was still a relative abundance of resources. Despite our ignorance, over time we eventually made the right decisions. Today, we are completely aware that the status quo is untenable and that we have the technological capacity met the basic needs of all human beings, yet our political and economic systems are geared toward risk aversion and profit maximization. It would be, for a lack of better a word, extraordinarily lame if the pendulum of civilization that has swung to and fro between cities and hinterlands for the last 6000 years came to standstill, not because of ignorance, but a lack of vision and will. Their reciprocities are key. So what does this all mean? For starters, we must recognize that technology alone will not save us. Radical technological innovation without equally radical changes to our lifestyles and social and political institutions would render the former moot. We need to ask the right questions. And, as Bratton pointed out in his eye-opening TED talk entitled, “We need to talk about TED”, “If a problem is in fact endemic to a system, then the exponential effects of Moore’s law also serve to amplify what’s broken. It is more computation along the wrong curve, and I doubt this is necessarily a triumph of reason 204 .” The ‘smart’ city is an ubikquitous city where automation and algorithmic-powered software will make machines smarter while we get stupider. Besides, the smart city is not radically innovative; it’s a corollary to older ideas used to optimize warfare, manufacturing techniques and product chain


management. It is no doubt a valorous attempt to make sense of the harrowing levels of complexity and ambiguity that define the human condition, but in the end it is a radically simplified and conservative futurism based on incremental efficiency improvements. Just because ‘irrational’ human traits like altruism, empathy, love and emotion cannot be readily quantified does not mean they are any less valid or real than the material flows of a city. The smart discourse does our species a great disservice, it’s too timid of an ideology—we can and must aspire for more. True societal transformation can only occur once we realize that innovation is not a matter of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, or thinking that we already have all the puzzle pieces on the table. Going forward, we cannot ignore the difficult and ambiguous nature of existence that history, philosophy, music, poetry, literature and art have been grappling with since the beginning of our journey— this is as university faculties of social sciences and humanities the world over are increasingly being defunded because they have a low Return on Investment (ROI), mind you. Instead of simplifying complexity and using algorithmic truncation to minimize risk and maintain the status quo, we must learn embrace risk and complexity in all its obscurity and splendor and cherish and share the integrated scientific discourses of alpha, beta and gamma perspectives. We understand a great deal about our planet and our universe, but no matter how advanced our computers get we could never create a model that truly mirrors reality. Designing advanced technologies and infrastructures to support urban life is not enough. We need equally sophisticated and cogent narratives that immunize the mind from the cynicism and nihilism that is pervasive in today’s culture and changes the way we think about our relationship with one another and the planet itself—towards possible futures where technological innovation, tempered by ethics and reason, meets the needs of both man and nature and not the other way around. Though we may have failed to provide neat, tidy, and detailed solutions to the biggest problems our species has ever faced, we hope that this book in some way illuminates and inspires you to think about wider systems in which we are nested and that are nested within us, and to dream big, because that is exactly what the world really needs today.


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Image credIts 01 >> INTRODUCTION 1. “Archive: Ganges River Delta (Archive: NASA, Space Shuttle, 11/19/05)”. Photo by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. https://www.flickr.com/photos/nasamarshall/14610275771/ (6-7) 2. Painting from Indian River Community Foundation (8) 3. Photo by Saqib Qayyum. http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Mohenjo-daro#mediaviewer/ File:Mohenjo-daro.jpg (9-10) 4. “Sandy’s aftermath”. Photo by Samytry. https://www.flickr.com/photos/samytry/8151934310 (14-15) 02 >> URBANIZATION IN CRISIS 5. Photo by Peter Stewart (16-17) 6. “Rocinha Favela Brazil Slums”. Photo by Alicia Nijdam (18) 7. “Ciadades que encolheram”. Infographic by Daniel Roda, Dalton Soares and Elvis Martuchelli. http://g1.globo.com/brasil/Cidades-que-encolheram-2000-2013/index. html (21) 8. “South Bend Voice”. Photo by People’s Climate March 2014 NYC (22) 9. Photo by Emerson Skufca. (22) 10. Photo by Antonio Acuña. https://www.flickr. com/photos/antonioacuna/15126293858/ (22) 11. “View of Kibera”. Photo by Schreibkraft. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kibera#mediaviewer/File:Nairobi_Kibera_04.JPG (25) 12. “Google Bus Protest”. Photo by Chris Martin. https://www.flickr.com/photos/cjmartin/11295749384 (26) 03 >> NETWORKED ENVIRONMENTS 13. Photo by Michael Henninger. http://40. media.tumblr.com/55adae373825c3e3fc1ea585c2b973a1/tumblr_n28hcnwZUs1rsoapwo4_1280.jpg (28-29) 14. “Internet Map”. Map by Matt Britt. http:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Internet_ map_1024.jpg (30) 15. Photo by Joel Duggan. https://www.flickr. com/photos/joelduggan/ (33) 16. Photo by velovotee. https://www.flickr.com/ photos/velovotee/3254046627/ (33) 17. “Beijing, China”. Photo by Lei Han. https:// www.flickr.com/photos/sunsetnoir/12657650665 (33) 04 >> UBIKQUITY 18. “Large scale structure of light distribution

in the universe”. Simulation by Andrew Pontzen and Fabio Governato. https:// www.flickr.com/photos/nelsonminar/5343099039/ (36-37) 19. Cover art of Ubik, published by Doubleday (39) 20. “The Stack Re-imagined”. Graphic by Alex Reynolds. (41) 21. “Welcome to Ubik”. Comic by Maria Alexandrescu. (42-43) 05 >> TECHNO-AUSTERITY 22. Photo by Corbis. http://www.thedailybeast. com/articles/2014/10/25/how-much-doyou-tip-a-robot-bartender.html (44-45) 23. “Asimo’s Gonna Gitcha”. Photo by azadam. https://secure.flickr.com/photos/azadam/83278753/(46) 24. Kodak advertisement. Found on http://blog. finnfemme.com/2012/11/1960s-kodak-instamatic-camera-the-original-instagram/ (48) 25. Advertisement by BadIdeaCA. http://www. badideaca.com/ (49) 26. “Old man hit by riot police in demonstrations in Athens Greece”. Photo by Ggia. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/ File:20110629_Old_man_hit_by_Riot_Police_in_demonstrations_in_Athens_Greece. jpg (50) 27. “A rally in support of Novorossiya in Moscow on June 11, 2014”. Photo by Artem Tkachenko. http://commons.wikimedia.org/ wiki/File:A_rally_in_support_of_Novorossiya_in_Moscow_on_June_11,_2014_(19). jpg.(50) 28. Photo by Phylis Buchanan. https://www. flickr.com/photos/pgautier/(50) 29. Photo by Aleksandr Maksimenko. http://www.telegraf.in.ua/photocollection/2014/07/16/izvestnye-fotografy-kremenchuga-aleksandr-maksimenko_10038501.html(51) 30. “Cafe de Ceuvel”. Photo by Leonoor Verplanken. http://leonoor-verplanken.wix.com/ leonoor-verplanken (53) 31. “Eiffel Tower at night”. Photo by Prasanth M. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/ File:Eiffel_Tower_at_Night..JPG (54) 32. “Tokyo Tower at night”. Photo by kakidai. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tokyo_Tower_at_night_2.JPG (54) 33. “A London bus”. Photo by e01. https://www. flickr.com/photos/e01/2334039881/ (56) 06 >> RISE OF THE SMART CITIES 34. Photo by Kai Morgener. https://www.flickr.


Ubikquity & the Illuminated City com/photos/kaihm/ (58) 35. “Urban metabolism”. Illustration by Dirk Sijmons and Jutta Raith. (60) 36. Advertisements by IBM. http://adsoftheworld.com/media/outdoor/ibm_people_for_ smarter_cities (62) 37. Photos from Kickstarter, IndieGoGo. Found on http://postscapes.com/internet-of-things-and-kickstarter. (70) 38. Infographic by Alex Reynolds. (72-73) 39. “Intelligent electriciteit voor Amsterdam Nieuw West.” Graphic by Alliander. (75) 40. “Electric car charging”. Photo by Ludovic Hirlimann. http://commons.wikimedia.org/ wiki/File:Electric_car_charging_Amsterdam. jpg (76) 41. “Schematic layouts of automatic parking at the Park&Charge garage and renewable charging facilities”. Render from TU Delft report: “Schipol the Grounds 2030: A SCENARIO FOR INTEGRATON OF ELECTRIC MOBILITY INTO THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT”. (77) 42. “Songdo Lake Park”. Photo by G43. http:// commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Songdo_Lake_Park_20080927.jpg (78-79) 43. “Kinderen van Boven”. Photo by Solaroad. http://www.solaroad.nl/wp-content/ uploads/2013/06/DSC8910_kinderenvanboven2.jpg (80-81) 44. “Calling at all stops to London’s King’s Cross. | London’s Calling for Flickr Friday | Explore. https://www.flickr.com/photos/ londondesigner/8628279668/ (80) 45. “Fahrradständer City Bike Wien vor der U-Bahn Station Längenfeldgasse in Meidling. Tauben.” Photo by Herzi Pinki. http://commons.wikimedia.org/ wiki/File:Fahrradst%C3%A4nder_CityBike_L%C3%A4ngenfeldgasse.jpg (81) 46. “London”. Photo by Wilson Loo Kok Wee. https://www.flickr.com/photos/kwloo/9667382054/ (80-81) 47. Photo by Robin Stevens. http://www.cynic. org.uk/photos/ap/full/usa2010/dsc_2600. jpg (81) 48. Renders (3) by Foster + partners, London. (82) 49. “Masdar Cityscape”. Photo by Tom Olliver. https://www.flickr.com/photos/bigfez/5444800585/ (83) 50. “Sala de Controle de Operaciones”. Photo by Raphael Lima. http://www-03.ibm.com/ press/us/en/presskit/27723.wss (85) 51. Photos from Drones for Good. Alec Momont, graduation project at Industrial Design Engineering, TU Delft. (86-87) 07 >> IS SOMETHING ROTTEN IN THE STATE OF DENMARK? 52. “IBM stand during CeBIT 2010”. Photo by Patrick. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CeBIT#mediaviewer/File:IBM_CeBIT_2010.jpg


Image credits (88-89) 53. “Hamlet and Horatio in the Graveyard”. Painting by Eugene Delacroix. http://commons. wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Eug%C3%A8ne_ Ferdinand_Victor_Delacroix_018.jpg (90) 54. Comic by xkcd. http://www.xkcd.com (94) 55. Photo by Vitaliy Raskalov. http://raskalov-vit.livejournal.com/136180.html(9697) 08 >> DIGITAL DIVIDES AND ELITE ENCLAVES 56. Photo by Boriss Jonicenoks. https://500px. com/photo/86690047/-by-boriss-jonicenoks (98-99) 57. “Macfries pedestrian crossing.” http://adsoftheworld.com/media/ambient/mcdonalds_macfries_pedestrian_crossing (100) 58. Graphic by Alex Reynolds. (103) 59. “Downtown Core Skyscrapers”. Photo by Randy Tan. https://www.flickr.com/photos/ randytan/10851079194/ (104) 60. Photo by hslo. https://www.flickr.com/photos/hslo/31981089 (105) 61. “Yangon floods”. Photos by Alex Reynolds. https://www.flickr.com/photos/lenstastic/ (107) 62. “Forced slum eviction”. Photo by Susana Secretariat. http://commons.wikimedia. org/wiki/File:Forced_slum_eviction_-_destruction_(4112045298).jpg (108) 63. “Eviction - police breaking fences”. Photo by Advocacy Project. https://www.flickr.com/ photos/advocacy_project/6944793091/ (108) 64. “Touche”. Photo by Loozrboy. https://www. flickr.com/photos/loozrboy/3009768428/ (108) 09 >> GIVE US YOUR DATA AND WE’LL GIVE YOU A TECHNO-UTOPIA 65. “Nerd!”. Photo by Pedro Gonzalez. https://www.flickr.com/photos/pitadel/4951801589/ (110-111) 66. “Dubai - The Strip”. Photo by Daniel Cheong. (112) 67. “Facebook server racks”. Photo by v3. http://www.v3.co.uk/IMG/954/168954/ facebook-open-compute-server-racks. jpg?1302251544 (116-117) 68. Maps found at Urban Gems. http://urbangems.org/ (118) 69. “All Violence against the person”. Map by London Metropolitan Police. http://maps. met.police.uk/ (120) 70. “Big Data”. Photo from Learnpatch. http://learnpatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Big-data.jpg (123) 10 >> LIBERTÉ, PRÉDICTIVITÉ, UNIFORMITÉ 71. “La Liberté guidant le peuple”. Painting by Eugène Delacroix. Edited by Alex Reynolds. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/

File:Eug%C3%A8ne_Delacroix_-_La_libert%C3%A9_guidant_le_peuple.jpg (122123) 72. “Grand Arch”. Photo by Willi Steb. (124) 73. Screenshot from Buzzfeed. http://www. buzzfeed.com/bestof2014 (128) 11 >> ACCELERATING TOWARDS CLOUD FEUDALISMS

94. “MVRDV Nieuw Leyden”. Photo by Jonas Klock. https://www.flickr.com/photos/ klock/8058030454 (169) AFTERWORD 95. “Sunset over Philadelphia”. Photo by Alex Reynolds. (170)

74. “Hide & Seek”. Photo by Dany Eid. https://500px.com/photo/85965203/hide&-seek-by-dany-eid (132-133) 75. “Herr Reinmar von Zweter”. Codex Manesse. Edited by Alex Reynolds. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feudalism#mediaviewer/ File:Codex_Manesse_Reinmar_von_Zweter. jpg (134) 76. “Tesoro”. Photo by arbyreed. https:// www.flickr.com/photos/19779889@ N00/6507747529 (137) 77. Photos from Google Streetview. https:// www.google.nl/maps (141-142) 78. Poster by the American Civil Liberties Union. https://www.aclu.org/ (144) 12 >> ILLUMINATED CITIES 79. “TIetgen exterior view in the Courtyard”. Photo by Jens Lindhe. http://www.dac. dk/media/6327808/tietgen-exterior-view-in-courtyard-jens-lindhe.jpg (146-147) 80. Photo by Mona Hepbarn. (150) 81. Photo of Before I Die project by Candy Chang. Photo source unknown. 82. Photos from Ecosystema Urbano. http:// www.ecosistemaurbano.com/ (154 - 155) 83. Photo by Alex Reynolds. http://www.flickr. com/photos/lenstastic (156-157) 84. Photo by Natural Fuse. http://www.naturalfuse.org/ (158) 85. Photo by Arjan van Timmeren. Edited by Alex Reynolds. (161) 86. “Greenpoint Rooftop Farm”. Photo by Betty Tsang. https://www.flickr.com/photos/bettytsang/4131557459 (162) 87. “Rooftop farm/ greenpoint”. Photo by Lila Dobbs. https://www.flickr.com/photos/8476316@N03/3750820179 (162) 88. “Uit je Eigen stad”. Photo by KrachtinNL. https://www.flickr.com/photos/88526039@N06/9245417197 (162) 89. “Neighborland”. Photo from Candy Chang. http://candychang.com/neighborland/ (163) 90. “Cafe de Ceuvel”. Photo by Alex Reynolds. (166) 91. De Ceuvel from above. Photo by Mechanicus. http://www.mechanicus.nl/ (166) 92. Photo by Leonoor Verplanken. http:// leonoor-verplanken.wix.com/leonoor-verplanken (166) 93. “District Vauban”. Photo by Arjan van Timmeren. (169)


Arjan van Timmeren (1969), is lately more of a hobo than a crobo, due to his work as full professor Environmental Technology & Design and lead P.I.ship of the Amsterdam-based joint TUD-MITWUR Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS). Regardless, he plans to return to his crobo existence together with his beloved family. He likes painting, avant-gardening, running in cities’ hinterlands, Pilates and Mediterranean cuisine and wines. He aims to one day become a Uomo Universale, but for the time being, he lives based on the belief that caring and sharing are the most important values for everybody’s future, as “alles van waarde is weerloos”.*

Laurence Henriquez (1988) is an ArubanAmerican crobo with a background in political science and journalism who is currently pursuing a masters in Industrial Ecology at TU Delft. He was at one point a music blogger but has shifted gears towards thinking more concretely about paradigm shifts. He is currently working on a digital knowledge sharing platform that empowers community-based green initiatives in the Amsterdam region. He enjoys reading, good conversation, watching movies and pretending to be a writer when and if the opportunity arises. Surprisingly, his mood is not that affected by the weather.

Alex Reynolds (1991) is an American crobo extraordinaire. She has a background in computer science and the arts, but has lately adopted a more creative lifestyle. In recent years, she has passed over opportunities to expand her arsenal of academic credentials and accomplishments in favor of climbing trees, exploring the world, and cultivating interests in just about everything unrelated to what she was supposed to be doing at the time. As her mood is, in fact, affected by Dutch weather, she is currently scheming on how to move to warmer Asian climates, but first needs to come to terms with the fact that one does not simply walk across borders in this day and age.

* From the poem De zeer oude zingt by Lucebert