Audio transcript – Smart cities
Dr Andrew Hudson-Smith:
There's technologies out there which are almost all around us now but not used from an urban point of view. But your mobile phone is incredibly smart and it can begin to sense things, so it can begin to sense sound, you can take photos with it, we can work out whether you're near trees or whether you're near the sea, and we can ask you things. So we're beginning to use technology to understand place and space an awful lot more.
And this is something we can utilise to access a range of new services, is that correct?
Yes. So the aim is that with using the urban realm as a live lab now - so you can begin to put sensors in your own home now too, so you're becoming the information feed rather than always being told things from a local council point of view - it's actually you are contributing to the view of how places work.</p>
<p>There's sensors coming out which will tell you your carbon footprint, 'cause it knows where you are; it will tell you air pollution tracks. We're always told how high or low the air pollution is, but you can buy sensors that go in your own home now - which changes the whole world, because if you know the air pollution in your own home is bad you will begin to kick up a fuss, and it will change the way government works: the power of us, the power of the crowd.
Well, that's the positive side of it, but then you've got people saying that this is a bit Big Brother, it's about keeping tabs on where we are, our movements through the city and what we do.
Yeah – I'd personally argue from an academic point of view that we're only five years away from all of us being tracked all of the time. Because if you look at the social networks now - Twitter; you've clicked ‘yes’ to the Twitter terms, and that can include location and what you say. So we can actively mine the things you tweet and grab your location at the same time. And if you put that into various pieces of software, we know where you are, we know what you're saying - so we can arguably predict what you're going to do in 30 minutes' time.
So actually, the whole discussion around data privacy is a bit obsolete when we see these new technologies that are coming?
It is. People get upset about the cards that we carry, but just look at what you share with your phone. Now every time you press 'send', that's being shared, and your phone knows where you are. So people don't seem to realise that whatever they say, it's not a private thing, it's a public thing – and location is key to all of this.
So the Festival event will showcase the breadth of what we're seeing here when it comes to how technology is transforming cities?
Yes. We're trying to show how social networks can actually be viewed on a map, how we can look at how riots can grow, and how we can use Twitter to see how the urban area works.
But also looking towards an increasing live view, it has a fantastic chance to actually see how places work; but therefore if we see how places work, we can show how places will be in 30 minutes' time - so we can work out where the traffic will be blocked up, we can work out networks which will be knocked out, and we can, I guess, plan ahead for a future crisis.