How to design a smart city that’s built on empowerment—not corporate surveillance

The World Health Organization found that empowerment is enhanced through a few key levers: 1) supportive groups, 2) meaningful community participation, and 3) resource mobilization…

Ultimately, even with new tools, the empowerment model we’ve offered here is far less convenient and comfortable than the smart city models of today.

And yet, if we want civic or urban tech to truly be “people-centric” and to solve real problems, they must do the hard work of building civic capacity. That doesn’t mean tasks like parking management or trash collection should never be automated—far from it. New technologies have a crucial role to play in automating drudgery and allow residents to spend more time on things that matter.

But that is the “why” and “how.” Diverse groups must have the opportunity to deliberate and act on these questions. This is a task that should never be automated—certainly not by shareholder-dominated companies.