For Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs’ Technology and Public Purpose (TAPP) Project, I researched harms to civil liberties posed by “smart city” technology. This research was originally inspired by protests to high-profile “smart city” projects like Sidewalk Toronto and a nascent regulatory landscape for surveillance technologies. After many interviews, public records requests, and the methodical tracking of related news during the fellowship via the Whose Streets? Our Streets! Newsletter, this report culminates my research and serves as a 2020-21 time capsule of “smart city” cautionary trends and 10 calls to action to blunt these trends.
The Whose Streets? Our Streets! (Tech Edition) final report includes:
A look at how technology is affecting society through the lens of our streets, which have historically been crucial commons for convening democratic protests.
An outline of how “smart city” cameras, location trackers, and sensors collect data that can identify, and target, individuals.
A framework of cautionary trends (Totalitarianism, Panopticonism, Discrimination, Privatization, and Solutionism) with 50+ real-world examples from 2020-21.
10 calls to action that summarize related 2020-21 regulatory approaches to build on and communities to get involved with. These calls to action ask that we Stop Harmful “Smart City” Technology, Data, and Uses; Build Our Collective Capacity to Evaluate How Technology Impacts Democracy; and Fortify Old and Build New Democratic Spaces.