Why does a smart city need to be spatially enabled? – Roche

After reading Stéphane Roche’s article (2014) on smart cities and GIScience’s role in its development, I am not sure I am entirely convinced that such a grand idea can be achieved. GIScience’s role in the development of smart cities seems to be more on the technical and computational side. Roche constantly mentions how GIScience will contribute efficient spatial information to cities; however, efficiencies seem to be more directed toward technical solutions. For example: making “mobile positioning technologies… [that are] more user-friendly interfaces,” or developing “information technologies, networks and sensors so as to optimize its ‘routine’ operations” (4-5).

Even if cyberGIS and its corresponding infrastructure can develop efficient algorithms and “user-friendly interfaces” that allow citizens to contribute “meaningful” geospatial information, this article dismisses how difficult it is to change people’s values and behaviors. Roche mentions that there are “three conditions required” to establish “spatially enabled” smart cities (6). Nevertheless, in order for this to happen, people’s behaviors and values are going to need to be shifted; most people today tend to opt-out of geotagging their social media posts, so I question how smart city supporters can convince citizens to change their behaviors and not be so concerned about their personal information becoming more open. Additionally, security issues and whether people will be easily willing to give out their spatial whereabouts via sensors need to be considered (5).

Maybe it is hard for me to visualize a smart city’s success because this is my first piece of literature I have read on this topic, but I honestly think there is too many little things that need to be achieved before this grand narrative of smart cities can be addressed. Technological improvements in VGI methods are expanding, but there have been no ultimate solutions yet. Within cities, research is still developing on how VGI strategies can be useful, such as collecting citizen’s locational information via social media for disaster management purposes. Furthermore, standardized procedures in VGI alone are still being debated, so I wonder how “globally unified geospatial standards” will be agreed upon (6).



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