How Cities Lost Control of the Urban Tech Revolution

  • Author: Aaron M. Renn
  • Source: Governing
  • Date: 02/11/2020

"For many years we've been promised that the marriage of technology and the city, the "smart city," would revolutionize urban life. But for a long time the term has essentially been a buzzword attached to different concepts over three distinct generations, accompanied by generous measures of hype and, lately, some serious questions about who's in the driver's seat.

Major technology purveyors who hoped to sell enterprise-level solutions for things like managing water and sewer systems or automating transit operations backed the first major wave of smart cities. Companies like Cisco, Schneider Electric, IBM and Bombardier sponsored conferences and touted their solutions. And they delivered some impressive showpieces, such as the command center IBM built for Rio de Janeiro, which was featured in a TED talk by then-Mayor Eduardo Paes. Songdo in South Korea was an entirely new urban business district built around this type of technology vision."

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