The sensor desert quandary: What does it mean (not) to count in the smart city?

Robinson, Caitlin ORCID: 0000-0001-7653-359X and Franklin, Rachel
(2021) The sensor desert quandary: What does it mean (not) to count in the smart city? Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 46 (2). pp. 238-254.

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As a central component of the smart city, sensor infrastructures locate and measure a wide range of variables in order to characterise the urban environment. Perhaps the most visible expression of the smart city, sensor deployment is a key equity concern. As new sensor technologies and resultant data interact with social processes, they have the potential to reproduce well-documented spatial injustices. Contrary to promises of providing new knowledge for cities, they can also create new gaps in understanding about specific urban populations that fall into the interstices of data collection—what we term sensor deserts. Building upon emerging data justice debates, specifically considering distributional, recognition and procedural forms of injustice, we conceptualise and analyse sensor deserts through two case studies, Newcastle’s Urban Observatory (UK) and Chicago’s Array of Things (US). Open sensor locations are integrated with small-area socio-economic data to evidence the demographic configuration and spatialities of sensor deserts across each city. We illustrate how the structural processes via which inequality is reinforced by smart agendas manifest as uneven social and spatial outcomes. In doing so, the paper opens up a new conceptual space in which to consider what it means (not) to count in the smart city, bringing a demographic perspective to critical debates about smart urbanisms.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sensor desert, Smart city, Spatial inequality, Data justice, Recognition
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2020 10:45
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2023 23:34
DOI: 10.1111/tran.12415
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