Much attention is given to fairness and equity in the smart city, whether algorithmic bias, surveillance or socio-economic inclusion. This talk directs attention to an explicitly spatial component of the smart city apparatus: sensor networks and the emergence of coverage gaps—or sensor deserts. How are cities and other stakeholders to make decisions about placement and where does coverage of vulnerable groups and places fit in? The talk provides a conceptual overview of the sensor location + spatial inequality dilemma, gives case study examples from Newcastle upon Tyne and Chicago, and concludes with some thoughts for both researchers and those on the ground working with smart city sensor networks, including local governments, policymakers, and community groups.
Rachel Franklin is professor of geographical analysis in the Spatial Analytics and Modeling (SAM@NCL) Lab and the Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies (CURDS) at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, as well as visiting scholar at the Population Studies and Training Center at Brown University. She is also a Fellow of the Alan Turing Institute and the current editor of Geographical Analysis. Prior to joining Newcastle in 2018, she was the associate director of Brown University’s initiative in Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences (S4). She is trained as a quantitative human geographer and her research focus is in spatial demography and the interplay between spatial analytics and demographic change, in particular quantifying patterns, sources and impacts of spatial inequality.
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