From S Korea to Malaysia, the SMART CITIES hailed as answer to world’s urban ills turn to ghost town
Across the globe, urban developments conceived by corporations have been pitched as technological and eco-friendly utopias
But many are prohibitively expensive and catalysts for land dispossession and social inequality
Every morning, at 8.30am, an announcement is piped though a speaker in the ceiling of Kim Jong-won’s flat, barking the daily bulletin in a high-pitched voice. The disembodied broadcaster details new parking measures, issues with the pneumatic waste disposal chute and various building maintenance jobs to be carried out that day.
“There’s no way of turning it off,” sighs Kim’s wife, Jung-sim, as she prepares breakfast. “I hate technology but my husband is an early adopter. He has to have everything first.”
It was Kim’s love of the latest tech that prompted him move his family to the future, or the nearest thing to it – Songdo, South Korea’s self-styled “smart city”, built on a 600-hectare parcel of artificial land dredged from the Yellow Sea near Seoul’s Incheon airport. It is a place where the garbage is automatically sucked away through underground pipes, where lamp posts are always watching you, and where your block of flats knows to send the lift down to greet you when it detects the arrival of your car. Sensors in every street track traffic flow and send alerts to your phone when it’s going to snow, while you can monitor the children’s playground on television from the comfort of your sofa. Read More