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Cracks in the Sidewalk: Tactics and discourses driving the “smart city” development of Quayside

Rahman, Kashfia (2019) Cracks in the Sidewalk: Tactics and discourses driving the “smart city” development of Quayside. [MRP]

Item Type: MRP
Creators: Rahman, Kashfia

Many nations have begun implementing “smart city” initiatives, however Canada is at a more nascent and therefore critical phase. In late 2017, Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs (a sister company of Google) partnered on a joint venture to create a new “smart city” development called Quayside. As Toronto and other global metropolises move towards becoming increasingly “connected”, the promises of smart cities are beginning to give way to problematic realities. This research project explored the ethical and socio-economic implications of “smart” technologies and discourses. Specifically, it questioned how issues of equity and inclusion are approached by smart city discourses, and how the narratives are being utilized in the pursuit of legitimizing smart urbanism. By examining the proposal for Quayside, the research examined a case study of an emerging smart city development, revealing four themes: 1) the spectrum of visibility, 2) the myth of neutrality, 3) the inclusive techno utopia, and 4) the rise of technocolonialism. These four themes outline the discourse and tactics Sidewalk Labs has utilized in pushing forward an agenda of smart urbanism. The findings show that smart cities have the potential to exacerbate the inequity which already exist in cities, even reaching to a new wave of technocolonization. For equity seeking groups such as people of colour and those with low income, who have historically been the target of state scrutiny, violence and colonization, living in a smart city may carry the risk of becoming more vulnerable. What happens when one doesn’t fit into the techno utopia depicted in Sidewalk’s MIDP? This project is intended for those working to craft digital governance policy within municipalities, urban planners engaging in smart urbanism projects, and non-profit organizations seeking to understand how smart cities may affect equity-seeking populations. In light of these findings, they can make a difference in fostering a more equitable society.

Date: 2019
Uncontrolled Keywords: smart city, smart cities, equity, technology, data, critical discourse
Divisions: Graduate Studies > Strategic Foresight and Innovation
Date Deposited: 05 Feb 2020 12:43
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2021 21:45
URI: https://openresearch.ocadu.ca/id/eprint/2884

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