26 October 2015

Madrid, the non-neoliberal smart city

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Paul Mason, economics editor at Channel 4 News and occasional columnist at The Guardian, writes about an alternative smart city vision: the “non-neoliberal smart city” that is currently being developed in Madrid:

Instead of seeing the city as a “system”, to be automated and controlled, the vision being mulled in the Spanish capital conceives of the city as an “ecosystem” of diverse, competing and uncontrolled human networks. Instead of asking: which of the city’s grids and networks do we want to automate and connect, Podemos-backed major Manuela Carmena asked advisers: what are the social problems we want technology to solve?

The result was the vision of a “non-neoliberal smart city”, incorporating three principles not welcome in the world of high-profit tech companies: openness, democratic participation and a clear policy that data generated from public services should be publicly owned. […]

As a result of Madrid’s early engagement with the smart cities concept, there is in Spain – almost uniquely in the developed world – a real debate about what we want technology to do for cities, and who should control the technology.

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