Project Background

All over Europe, so-called ‘smart cities’ are the testing grounds for new technologies that affect how we live, how we organise our societies and what our ethical foundation is. These technologies often involve the use of big data and devices that can act with a degree of autonomy. The development of new technologies therefore cannot be left to engineers and managers; it requires public debate and democratic control. Given the opportunities that new technologies offer for reducing the ecological footprint of cities and creating new urban commons, as well as the potential threats they pose to civil liberties and social justice, GEF aims to stimulate the debate on smart cities. Key questions must be considered: who owns the data collected? Which decisions can we responsibly outsource to algorithms? 

Project Objectives and Activities

To this end, GEF has developed, with the support of its partners, a Charter for the Smart City, consisting of guiding principles that will make it easier for green European politicians and activists to assess and steer technological innovations in their cities. Throughout 2019, ideas were solicited digitally and through events across Europe, including best practises from NGOs, experts and local green politicians, as well as from GEF partner foundations and other Green European actors. Many of the issues that the Charter deals with, such as algorithmic discrimination, automated facial recognition and smart mobility, will rise in prominence in the coming years. 

In 2020, this transnational project will be devoted to the dissemination of the Charter and its contents, available in multiple languages, through a series of events in more than 8 European countries as well as on the dedicated website www.smartcitycharter.euThe objective is to make the Charter more accessible to local (green) politicians and (young) activists 

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