Smart cities are great. Human-centric cities are (again) the future

Naveen Rajdev at Quartz:” …You don’t want your smart city’s proverbial slip to show, and you don’t want to overwhelm your citizens with too much tech. So what’s the plan?

1. Start making technology invisible

Being able to “see” technology creates interaction, and interaction creates distraction.

To illustrate: Assuming your car and smartphone are connected, your phone should be able to notify someone—someone texting you, for example—that you’re driving and can’t respond. You don’t want to take your hands off the wheel, so your phone should instead be able to send an automatic response to the text sender: “I’m driving right now, but I’ll get back to you later.” It keeps you and others safe on the road, and it doesn’t force you to respond….

Detroit, for instance, is already investigating the idea of “invisible” technology, particularly when it comes to residents’ safety. Last fall, Detroit’s city officials partnered with Comcast to expand the area’s Project Green Light program, which allows businesses to install cameras police can use to monitor crimes (and solve them) in real time.

The program’s expansion led to a 50% drop in violent crime at convenience stores and gas stations. Thanks to the technology—which was by no means a distraction to Detroit’s residents—the city is safer, and business is better.

While Detroit excels at making tech inconspicuous, most of the country is doing what it can to be more on-the-grid than ever before, completely ignoring (or altogether missing) the subtleties “invisible” tech offers. Last fall, New York City officials introduced LinkNYC, a free Wi-Fi service throughout Manhattan in the form of 500 touch-screen kiosks available for public use.

As the adage suggests, sometimes there can be too much of a good thing. With the kiosks being essentially too visible in Manhattan’s streets, problems arose: The city’s homeless population began misusing them, and certain groups started insisting the kiosks help officials “spy” on its residents….

2. Your city must be conscious of digital overload

In a world where technology rules, it’s imperative we find time to think, breathe, and unplug, so city leaders must carefully marry tech and mindfulness. Otherwise, they face the consequences of information overload: weakened decision-making and the feeling of being overwhelmed, among others. A city’s occasional digital detox is crucial.

Why? Studies have shown that smartphones could be causing insomnia, social media may be spawning narcissism, and computer screens might be making our kids less empathetic. At some point, a line must be drawn.

Luckily, certain cities are starting to draw it. Late last year, Miami’s development authority department proposed turning lanes clogged with traffic on Biscayne Boulevard into a spacious greenway that welcomed both pedestrians and bicyclists. Beyond that, walking trails are growing along the river and bay, and another trail is in the works. City developers have also approved smaller residential projects in areas that public transit serves….

Even a simple art exhibit can be marred by too much tech. …Other gallery curators aren’t loving the marriage of art and tech. Connie Wolf, Stanford University’s director of the Cantor Arts Center, is particularly cautious. “In our busy lives, in our crazy lives, we’re always connected to technology,” she said. “People want to come into museums and put that technology aside for a moment.”

Bottom line: Being connected is great, but being conscious is better. City leaders would do well to remember this….(More)”.