SSC Seminar Series: David Murakami Wood

Location: Mac Corry Hall, Room D411
12:30- 2:00 pm

Smart City, Surveillance City: human flourishing in a data-driven urban world

David Murakami Wood
Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Surveillance Studies

‘Smart cities’ are characterized by pervasive and distributed sensor networks generating big data for forms of centralized urban management, drawing together such previously unconnected infrastructural systems as video surveillance, meteorological stations, traffic lights and sewage systems. This presentation sees the smart city as the archetypical urban form of the data-driven ubiquitous surveillance society. It considers the place of human rights in a broad sense, not simply privacy but also equity, access to services and justice, and ultimately, the capacity of diverse human beings to flourish, in cities in which people are increasingly monitored, categorized and managed as logistical flows. It suggests some directions from the practices of bottom-up, citizen-centered city hacking initiatives and maker-spaces, but cautions that such practices are already subject to corporate capture and rebranding. The presentation concludes that if smart cities are to be a way that big data can serve human flourishing, they need to be detached from narrow techno-economistic purposes and more truly refounded in social-ecological thinking, however this means dismantling much the surveillance logic that underpins smart cities.

Everyone welcome!