Smart slums: utopian or dystopian vision of the future?

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Smart slums: utopian or dystopian vision of the future?
With an estimated population of one million, Kibera is the largest urban slum in Africa
Smart slums: utopian or dystopian vision of the future?
With an estimated population of one million, Kibera is the largest urban slum in Africa

Life in a smart city is a frictionless; free of traffic congestion, optimally lit, with everything from bins to buildings constantly reporting their status and managing their interactions with residents. The smart slum is still a peripheral idea, but we can speculate on the likely impact of extending this ‘smartness’ to slums and make two competing claims. Firstly, that development professionals should be wary of smart slums repeating some of the negative impacts of ICT4D; and secondly, that a push for smart slums could be appropriated for social justice.

The idea of the smart city is a vision of a networked urbanism. The promise is that environmental monitoring and feedback from embedded sensors everywhere will simultaneously deliver greener and more productive cities. The idea has been most fully materialised in brand new cities like Songdo in South Korea but is spreading to established urban centres like San Francisco, Amsterdam and Madrid. []

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