City and Regional Planning Section Head Jennifer Clark spoke with Associate Professor of City and Regional Planning Bernadette Hanlon about her book Uneven Innovation: The Work of Smart Cities.
Smart cities, argues Clark, can exacerbate existing inequalities. They are a continuation of a broader “urban technology project,” that is delinked from the historical past and situated within an internally contradictory narrative that claims to operate on a de-territorialized landscape while simultaneously claiming the geographic preeminence of the city.
The arrival of the COVID-19 exposed the uneven and unreliable infrastructure platforms on which our cities sit. The smart cities project has been revealed to be far more aspirational, predicated on far more assumptions, than the message shared with policymakers and investors in our pre-pandemic world.
Uneven Innovation is a clear-eyed look at how far these projects have to go, and some decisions to make about who pays and who benefits, and what communities need from their cities.