Many of the more successful companies are tech companies that can contribute most of their profits to collecting user data. Examples of these companies include Alibaba and Google. By tracking user data, they can predict user behaviour and draw connections between their actions that may not be obvious through casual observation. These companies want to collect as much data as possible so that they can gain a deeper understanding of their users. User behaviour is not limited to the users own actions, they are influenced by external forces, sometimes out of their control. By tracking external, or as one could say, environmental forces, companies can relate the cause to a reaction. People base their decisions on the weather, so by tracking the weather, and comparing it against user data, a company can obtain a more comprehensive understanding of a user’s actions. In addition, scientists have drawn correlations between pollution and mental health. Like tracking the weather, companies could also draw correlations between differing pollution levels and user behaviour.
Another commonly proposed way companies can track user behaviour that extends beyond their phones or web page is to track foot traffic to determine an optimal location for a storefront. However, because this sort of tracking and the action can extend beyond the scope of a phone or an app eventually, companies will have to work with city governments to track people in public or build and buy a storefront. Collecting and using environmental data and paring it with citizen’s data in this way lends itself to the being used to create smart cities.
Smart cities use sensors to collect data about the environment and the entities inhabiting the space. After analyzing data, the cities or city planners can react to changes in the environment to improve the way the city works. This efficiency, in theory, can lead to a better life for all. The video “What are Smart Cities” explains the benefits and even necessity for developing cities as “smart cities” and the links one could make to corporations being responsible for implementing many of these changes. Essentially, the current lifestyle people live has issues with waste: wasting energy, food, time, ect. This waste can also have a monetary value. If corporations can find a way to reduce the waste, they can profit off of the money saved. Because smart cities rely on many devices communicating with each other and analyzing large amounts of data, technology companies such as the aforementioned Alibaba and Gooogle are more equipt to develop concepts, devices, and implement smart city technology. They already based on the internet and deal primarily with facilitating connections and analyzing user data.
While these groups are more equipt to be creating smart cities, the line between governing body and corporation becomes blurred. This relates to the last book we read The Stack because it talks about an interface for an interacting with and reacting to the environment. These corporations facilitate connections to make life more efficient. They build the infrastructure for the smart cities and can eventually exert control over these places and people. This sort of control over people could be seen as another problem for society because if the governing body is a corporation with a goal of earning profit, rather than a governing counsel, put in place to benefit it’s citizens, people could lose their voice in society.