Smart Townships will Build Smarter Cities
Techno-utopian views of ‘Smart Cities’ not only perpetuate inequality and negate future urban resilience, they also disregard the user-centric, social-technical criteria that are crucial to classify a city as ‘smart’—where all who reside in the city are digitally connected and have greater access to employment opportunities, public services, transportation and overall better quality of life, through the use of information and communications technologies (ICT) and wiser management of natural resources. A considerable body of literature has developed over this time to demonstrate that poorly planned Smart City Initiatives, in a developing country context, exacerbate socio-economic inequalities, spatial segregation and public funding injustice even further. The solution is an integrated local government strategy that supports the evenness of delivery not only within cities but between them and smaller municipalities. This could be a critical element of an integrated digital new deal, where coordination of digital strategies and indeed governance of global public goods, such as Internet, data and cybersecurity are realised at the national level. Also, given the uneven development of the South African economy and enormous geospatial inequality, directives from national government are better suited to address these challenges, as there is far less capacity in many cities and often none, in the municipalities outside of the main metropoles to deploy ICTs to enhance the efficiencies of their operations and ensure that all citizens have public access to the Internet to benefit from online services or create livelihoods.