Tag Archives: social sorting

New paper: Continuous geosurveillance in the smart city

A new paper by Rob Kitchin has been published in DIS Magazine as part of its fascinating ‘Data issue‘.  The paper explores the extent to which geosurveillance is becoming pervasive and routinised and the consequences of such geosurveillance with respect to civil rights and governance, and is accompanied by some original art by Mark Dorf (also used in the site banner above)  It starts thus:

“For the past couple of decades there has been a steady stream of analysis that has documented the ways in which the rollout of new digital and networked technologies have enabled increasingly pervasive and extensive forms of state and corporate surveillance. Such technologies have the capability to capture and communicate data about their use; simultaneously a wealth of sophisticated software has been developed that processes and acts on such data in automated, autonomous, and automatic ways. Importantly, the use of embedded GPS, sensors, and digital cameras are enabling location and movement to be tracked, facilitating extensive geosurveillance of people and places.

Continuous geosurveillance relies on the production of spatial big data, and in particular the notion of the “smart city” takes center stage, that is, urban landscapes that can be monitored, managed and regulated in real-time using ICT infrastructure and ubiquitous computing. Such instrumented cities are promoted as providing enhanced and more efficient and effective city services, ensuring safety and security, and providing resilience to economic and environmental shocks, but they also seriously infringe upon citizen’s privacy and are being used to profile and socially sort people, enact forms of anticipatory governance, and enable control creep, that is re-appropriation for uses beyond their initial design.

What follows is a consideration of the unfettered rush to create “smart cities” that is sensitive to the risks involved in extensively monitored urban landscapes. Are too much data about people and places being generated by public and private institutions and used to profile, sort, and sift in pernicious ways? In the rush to create smart cities is the privacy and freedom we expect in liberal democracies being eroded? Perhaps most alarming, are we creating cities that represent the interests of a select group of corporations and technocrats, rather than producing ones that represent the best interests of all citizens? ….”