Why Smart Cities Must be Sharing Cities

Julian Agyeman and Duncan McLaren make the case that the only smart city is a shareable city.
September 30, 2014, 11am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Julian Agyeman and Duncan McLaren start with the claim that "when mayors and developers focus on technology rather than people, smart quickly becomes stupid, threatening to exacerbate inequality and undermine the social cooperation essential to successful cities."

Their argument: "truly smart cities will be those that deploy modern technology in building a new urban commons to support communal sharing."

Agyeman and McLaren cite examples of dumb smart cities in India and the U.K., claiming that "[in] all too many cities, economic divisions are being widened and social capital destroyed due to the notion that only a competitive, wired city can survive in the cut-throat global market."

In contract, however, "[new] opportunities for sharing create new opportunities to enhance trust and rebuild social capital." Here’s a roundup of some of the sharing innovations that achieve the goals pursued by Agyeman and McLaren:

Kiva City is providing interest free loans to local social businesses. Freecycle is diverting thousands of tons of functional but unwanted things from landfill. Repair cafes, which bring together people with repair skills and those in need of help, are springing up in hundreds of cities. Garden sharing schemes like Landshare are doing the same for gardeners.

The article goes on to explain why policy makers should support such communal activities in their cities.

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Published on Tuesday, September 30, 2014 in Zocalo Public Square
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