Ben Van Duppen on Smart Cities and democracy - Babylon's Burning

The Editors

According to Ben Van Duppen we should rethink the concept of smart cities from a democratic and commons perspective. In the late 2000’s as a reaction to the international financial crisis, two multinational tech companies, IBM and Cisco, saw the crisis as a nice opportunity to start a new market in providing consultancy and technological solutions to ‘pressing city problems’. 

“Big Data”, or simply put analysis of (large) data sets in order to find underlying patterns or new insights, has been the driving force behind SC since the very beginning. By looking at the gigantic increase in market value of so-called data brokers, huge corporations that own and combine data sources, it’s clear that there the big value lies. 

How should we treat this data accumulation threat? And how can we embed data in a more democratic way, without destroying privacy?

Babylon is Burning has invited Ben van Duppen (University of Antwerp) to talk about the subject of "smart cities". According to Van Duppen, global tech companies are trying to sell technologies to cities, arguing that these technologies will help local governments to improve and control their cities. Van Duppen explains how the idea of "smart cities" was developed, how these cities work in the physical world and why we should raise questions about this subject.

Dr. Ben Van Duppen (°1989) is postdoc quantum physics at University of Antwerp, involved in “smart mobility projects” and Councillor at the Antwerp city district of Borgerhout on the field of poverty reduction.

Babylon's Burning is a YouTube Talkshow on Digital Culture. It is a co-production between Babylon, Center for the study of Superdiversity (Tilburg University) and Diggit Magazine. 

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Ben Van Duppen on Smart Cities and democracy - Babylon's Burning