Smart City or Surveillance City?
From Toronto to Tokyo, it has become common to hear that our privacy is disappearing. There are closed-circuit television cameras on street corners, drones flying overhead, ever-tighter border controls, and governments and companies collecting as much data as possible about us.
The data collected by these systems is increasingly used in “smart city” initiatives, which try to harness the power of surveillance and big data for urban management. Smart cities combine multiple kinds of data—from weather to crime patterns—with the aim of anticipating and averting risks before things go wrong.
With the help of international research partners in the United States and the United Kingdom, Dr. David Murakami Wood, Canada Research Chair in Surveillance Studies, is examining whether these smart cities really make us “smarter” or actually create social injustice and challenge our rights to privacy by building surveillance into our urban environment.
Murakami Wood wants to move beyond simply accepting the increased level of electronic scrutiny of our daily lives, and shed light on potential responses to surveillance while providing new ways of understanding, debating, reacting to and controlling it.