Data, Cities and Citizens

Rebooting the city operating system to correlate data and democracy

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Digital technology, data and artificial intelligence are transforming society at a rate never seen before in the history of humanity.

Looking beyond the “smart territory”, this revolution is showing us a glimpse of the long-term promise of “zero” territories: territories that are free of waste, congestion, greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, crime, health problems and exclusion… if we manage to involve around a common project the social, technical, political and economic actors of the territory.

This also brings about enormous risks for democracy and citizens’ individual rights: the risk of feudalisation of territories and our entire economy around platforms operated by tech giants, the risk of “data” dictatorship where data is used to produce an Orwellian vision of mass surveillance and social control measures, or, worse still, the risk of “algocracy”, where algorithms themselves replace democracy.

What can we hope to gain from artificial intelligence as a response to the challenges that our territories face? In return for the huge potential of AI, do we have to pay the price of giving up entrepreneurial freedom, citizen rights and our ability to control our own destiny? Can we re-think how we organise our territories in order to maintain our place as citizens?

At a time when technology is advancing at the frenzied pace dictated by Moore’s Law, yet with some countries still working on out-dated operating systems, the issue is both critical and urgent.

This study, conducted by Capgemini Invent in partnership with Netexplo, aims to provide guidance on the scope of possibilities and risks surrounding the use of artificial intelligence in the development of “zero” territories.

Smart City

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