The Ethical Smart City (ESC) Framework does not prescribe any values to prioritize, challenges to solve or technologies to adopt. Instead, it is underscored by a strong foundation of elements and guiding principles that reinforce the adaptable nature of our Framework.
The elements of the ESC Framework, described below, are Values, Challenges and Technology. These elements are understood in relation to the community. The Ethical Smart City Project is based on the understanding that no two cities have the same starting point, let alone the same challenges. For a city to address its underlying values, it must start from the bottom-up – the community. When you start with the community, you can understand the values they prioritize, the right challenge to address, and the appropriate technology to address those challenges. The combination of these elements guides municipalities towards an Ethical Smart City transformation. Cities that prioritize the welfare of their people can build their own capacity to preempt and prepare for future challenges.
Through this year’s work, the ESC project learned that cities that succeed in solving their challenges harnessed the potential of their communities. This insight allowed us to champion the values of the community as a starting point for identifying challenges and the solutions to these challenges.
Being intentional and starting with the community and their values is not really a new way of thinking. It has been practiced by many communities. However, when applied to the design and implementation of smart city projects, a shared understanding of the values of the community can drive ethical solutions. Values can bring individuals, corporations, non-profits, public services and different community groups together to coordinate efforts to build a resilient future.
The Smart City movement has seen technology become more deeply integrated with infrastructure in order to solve complex challenges. There is also an emerging consensus that the technologies adopted by Smart Cities have resulted in severe social, political and ethical effects. Technology is equal parts enabler and disruptor. Investments in relevant technology can only improve the lives of people when technology is no longer developed or used merely for its own sake.
By 2050, it is projected that 68% of the world’s population will live in cities. Thus, the future of cities is the future of humanity. As cities continue to attract people and talent, they see the creation and interaction of problems and solutions. The challenges that Smart Cities face today are the cascading impact of disruptors that manifest globally. Even with the use of technology, smart cities are struggling to find ways to respond to climate change, mass migration, and pandemics among other major disruptors.