Smart Cities and 15-minute cities: We must stop allowing these criminals to slowly walk us into techno-tyranny

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by Rhoda Wilson, Expose News:

You’ve most likely heard of the terms “Smart City” and “15-minute city” but how many know exactly what they are?

In the following article, the author of ‘How to Opt-Out of the Technocratic State‘ Derrick Bronze answers the questions: What exactly is a “Smart City” and how does it relate to a “15-minute city”? And what does any of this have to do with individual liberty and freedom of movement?

And, finally, what do we plan to do about it?

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Understanding Smart Cities, 15-Minute Cities, and How We Win

By Derrick Bronze

You’ve likely heard the terms “Smart City” or, its more recent cousin, “15-minute city,” but do you truly understand what these concepts call for? Do you know which organisations are responsible for promoting the ideas? More importantly, are you prepared to survive and thrive in the face of these liberty-crushing plans?

To prepare for any potential future emergency, we must better understand what we are facing. Let’s start by understanding what is meant when we speak of “Smart Cities.”

The term typically describes an urban area which is outfitted with 5G towers (and soon, 6G) which allow the speed and bandwidth needed for autonomous vehicles, robot assistants, and sensors in the street to moderate street lights and issue environmental warning alerts. All of this would be powered by Artificial Intelligence (“AI”). Collectively, the sensors, devices, and infrastructure are known as the so-called “Internet of Things” (“IoT”).

To put it simply, the IoT is the network of digital devices, vehicles, appliances and other physical objects embedded with sensors that allow them to collect and share data. This real-time data collection is central to smart city initiatives which claim to be stepping stones towards a digital utopia. Devices connected to the IoT range from smartphones to smart appliances to smart homes or buildings with smart thermostats. Even wearables like smartwatches, earbuds, and fitness-tracking devices form part of the IoT. A simple rule of thumb is that if your device is claimed to be “smart,” or has Wi-Fi or Bluetooth capabilities it can be connected to the IoT.

National Geographic describes a smart city as “a city in which a suite of sensors (typically hundreds or thousands) is deployed to collect electronic data from and about people and infrastructure so as to improve efficiency and quality of life.” NatGeo notes that residents and city workers may need to use apps to access city services, receive and issue reports of outages, accidents, and crimes, pay taxes, fees, etc. They also emphasise the potential use cases for reducing energy usage and making a city more “sustainable.”

Overall, smart cities are being sold to the public as a futuristic cityscape with features like streetlights that automatically turn off when no one is around, or  AI algorithms which optimise trash collection routes. We are also being told that by combining AI with sensors and cameras everywhere, we will have autonomous, or driverless, vehicles which will lower traffic congestion.

Unfortunately, the vision for a smart city is actually another step towards losing our liberties and privacy.

In April 2018, the American Civil Liberties Union released a guide detailing important questions that should be asked by city officials seeking to join the smart city movement. The guide, ‘How to Prevent Smart Cities from Turning to Surveillance Cities’, was written by Matt Cagle, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California. In January 2019, I asked Mr. Cagle to comment on the growth of smart cities and the technology behind them. Here’s what he told me:

Not only are smart cities a privacy nightmare but, if the city planners have their way, you may soon find yourself unable to drive without paying fees, or penalised for jaywalking thanks to ubiquitous facial recognition cameras.

What is a 15-Minute City?

This brings us to the concept of 15-minute cities. First discussed by a city planner named Carlos Moreno at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2015, 15-minute cities is essentially the idea that all the resources within a community should be within a 15-minute walk.

As is typical with most ideas promoted by the UN – it doesn’t sound all that horrible in isolation. I mean, who doesn’t want to be able to walk to get their groceries or to the local community centre for a cookout? In fact, some of you may already be living in areas with everything within 15 minutes of your home. Then what’s the problem, you might ask?

Well, when you look beyond the buzzwords you begin to see that, much like smart cities, 15-minute cities have the potential to be used as a way to limit freedom of movement, freedom of speech and privacy. Many people have also come to fear that concepts like smart cities and 15-minute cities are really about socially engineering people to stop driving their own private vehicles – all in the name of the climate, of course. Look no further than a brand new book by Carlos Moreno, which claims to offer “techniques to change the habits of automobile-dependent city residents”. It doesn’t get much clearer than that.

Moreno has been successful in pushing his idea into the mainstream, with Paris, France first adopting the idea in 2020. But it wasn’t until late 2022 and early 2023 that resistance to 15-minute cities became a public issue. In February 2023,  an estimated 2,000 demonstrators gathered in central Oxford, England for a protest against the creation of what is known as a low-traffic neighbourhood, or LTN.

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