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Data and Temporality in the Spectral City

Abstract

Rapid urbanization has meant that cities around the world must deal with problems like traffic congestion, aging infrastructure, affordable housing, and climate change. Increasingly, policymakers are turning to investments in technology and digital infrastructure to address these problems. Yet the move towards so-called smart cities is not simply responsive, and policymakers increasingly advocate for smart city initiatives as a necessary step towards objective, efficient, and rational governance. This understanding of technological interventions as inherently progressive, however, causes many to overlook the erasures, biases, and limitations that emerge from trying to leave the past behind. As the problems associated with this enthusiasm become more apparent, the smart city movement must therefore recalibrate its relationship to not just technology but time itself. Building on deconstructive temporalities emerging out of quantum physics, I argue that cities must begin drawing from alternative temporalities more open to the intersections between past, present, and future. As such, I suggest that the time has come to replace the ideal of the smart city with that of the spectral city – an incomplete city haunted by the ghosts (and composts) of the past.

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Correspondence to Nathan A. Olmstead.

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Olmstead, N.A. Data and Temporality in the Spectral City. Philos. Technol. 34, 243–263 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13347-019-00381-8

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Keywords

  • Smart cities
  • Deconstruction
  • Spectral
  • Technology
  • Urban governance
  • Data and Temporality in the Spectral City