From smart city to democratic city*

If networked communication technologies are today a dominant reality in our lives, then the city is the venue where they materialise, accounting for many of the conflicts and challenges that exist in contemporary society. If we are to understand the digital city today, we need to understand this set of technological developments that affect it, and that have certain intrinsic relationships (and transformations), in terms of politics, economics, society, urban life and power. In fact, the city, or a particular model of city, is fully immersed in a narrative in which innovation and technological development, spatial monitoring through sensors and the application of artificial intelligence, as summarised in the widespread concept of the ‘smart city’, is based on a particular (and skewed) vision of technology with one byword in common: any technological development that represents any type of social benefit is seen as politically relevant, innovative and positive.

*Article published in Barcelona Metropolis on January 2019. Also available in Spanish and Catalan.

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