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Torin Monahan

Under the banner of ‘smart cities’, regional governments around the world are embracing distributed sensor networks, video surveillance and predictive analytics in hopes of solving a wide range of urban problems. Rather than view such developments as neutral, this chapter probes their underlying politics and ask what kinds of worlds are being created in the name of efficiency, economic growth or security. Whereas in Kevin Lynch’s classic book The Image of the City he collected mental maps from city residents to use as a resource for crafting design protocols for more livable spaces, the image of the smart city is being dictated almost entirely by technology companies either responding to previously identified problems or selecting problems based upon fit with their preferred high-tech solutions. Through such removed, rationalized plans, hidden technological protocols threaten to further normalize neoliberal arrangements and exacerbate social inequalities.