Home Is smart tech “a solution looking for a problem?”

Is smart tech “a solution looking for a problem?”

Smart cities are becoming all the more common, but not everyone is impressed.

Maarten Hajer, chief curator of the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam 2016, said that smart technology is “a solution looking for a problem.”

In particular, Hajer refutes the idea that smart technology adoption is inevitable. He also argues that designers and architects aren’t thinking of the solutions that smart technologies like autonomous cars, 3D printing, and big data provide and the consequences of implementation.

See Also: Sidewalk Labs meets with Alphabet head honcho to discuss building a smart city

“I have an environmental background so I know the data requirements of self-driving vehicles also makes for a very big energy bill,” said Hajer to Dezeen’s Amy Frearson. “Just think about the data requirements of a self-driving vehicle, the sending back and forth of data. You need a stunning number of data centres. You also create reliance on GPS, which is a monopolistic military technology. So there are lots of systemic risks involved that are not getting the attention that they need. If it was an open system I would be much more comfortable, but that’s not the way it usually goes.”

It’s less the smart tech than the smart thought

Hajer does not think smart technology is bad, as long as city leaders understand the goals and advantages of implementation. He finds renewable energy a perfect example of high-tech in urban cities working to help homeowners, who can save on energy bills and become more aware of their energy usage.

“I’m deeply convinced that if people produce their own energy it makes them very aware of how much energy they need,” said Hajer. “In that sense it is crucial. Of course any energy that you make yourself is wonderful. In particular, if it allows you to share it with neighbors in a smart grid, it makes you far less dependent on the outside. That is actually wonderful.”

When asked for examples of low-tech programs that’ve worked in cities, Hajer points to African projects like re-assembling old European cars and combining solar with geothermal. He also says that things like recycling and making have always been embedded into African culture, and that has helped cities remain vibrant and smart.

Smart cities don’t have one plan to stick to and we’ve seen in cities like London, Paris, Barcelona, Amsterdam, and San Francisco different implementations of smart technologies. Some of them work, some of them don’t, but Hajer is right in saying that it’s up to the city leaders to implement the right systems and ensure it fixes a problem, instead of being an empty solution.

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.