Smart Cities and COVID-19: Implications for Data Ecosystems from Lessons Learned in India
Babu, Sarath MG
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This brief distils best data practice recommendations through consideration of key issues involved in the use of technology for surveillance, fact-checking and coordinated control during crisis or emergency response in resource constrained urban contexts. We draw lessons from how data enabled technologies were used in urban COVID-19 response, as well as how standard implementation procedures were affected by the pandemic. Disease control is a long-standing consideration in building smart city architecture, while humanitarian actions are increasingly digitised. However, there are competing city visions being employed in COVID-19 response. This is symptomatic of a broader range of tech-based responses in other humanitarian contexts. These visions range from aspirations for technology driven, centralised and surveillance oriented urban regimes, to ‘frugal innovations’ by firms, consumers and city governments. Data ecosystems are not immune from gendered- and socio-political discrimination, and technology-based interventions can worsen existing inequalities, particularly in emergencies. Technology driven public health (PH) interventions thus raise concerns about 1) what types of technologies are appropriate, 2) whether they produce inclusive outcomes for economically and socially disadvantaged urban residents and 3) the balance between surveillance and control on one hand, and privacy and citizen autonomy on the other.
CitationGupte, J.; Babu, S.M.G.; Ghosh, D.; Kasper, E.; Mehra, P. and Raza, A. (2021) Smart Cities and COVID-19: Implications for Data Ecosystems from Lessons Learned in India, Briefing, Brighton: Social Science In Humanitarian Action (SSHAP) DOI: 10.19088/SSHAP.2021.012