A smart city is comprised of technology, data and community: but will that build a fairer society?

The number of smart speakers bought in 2018 alone has doubled in the last four months with the likes of Alexa and Google Home answering queries in the home. Meanwhile driverless cars are being developed by the likes of Amazon and Tesla to deliver packages cutting human interaction.

The idea sparked debate at The Drum’s Smart Cities Off Stone briefing to launch the Smart Cities edition of the magazine, with the concern that there will be a lesser sense of community and a generation being left behind echoing across the panel.

According to DuBose Cole, director of strategy at VaynerMedia, however, smart cities have already arrived with the likes of Citymapper developing a bus route that customers can alter. “That’s a bit of an uncovered stone, it’s one thing to be able to access information but to be able to use it in real time will be the future.”

Cole also mentioned how Transport For London (TFL) uses the data it collects from commuters connected to the wifi to understand their movements through the station. “They use that data generated to adapt the stations or services to enhance the consumer experience. That speaks to the idea of being overall a city of serendipitous action,” he added,

However, referencing the movie I Daniel Blake, Gyro UK strategy director, Kimberly Miller, voiced concerns that the more connected people get, not only are they less likely to get outside and connect with their community, but there is a risk older generations will be left behind.

While Elena Corchero, futurist at Unruly, explained the technology that can be added into everyday life can be beneficial, if somewhat out there. Miller echoed the concerns of an unfair society.

She said: “You need to make it so easy that your smart city is touch based that you don’t have to know how to code to get access to see your doctor. I don’t think we are talking about what the future is, but instead excited about improving that is already happening.”

In the video above, Miller explained that the only way to let a smart city lead to a fairer society is to ensure accessibility to all.

To find out more about Smart Cities, pick up your copy of The Drum magazine here.

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