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Rachel Franklin

Rachel Franklin recently joined Newcastle University as professor of geographical analysis in the Spatial Analytics and Modeling (SAM@NCL) Lab and the Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies (CURDS).

She is also a Fellow of the Alan Turing Institute and is the current editor of Geographical Analysis. Prior to Newcastle, she was the associate director of Brown University’s initiative in spatial structures in the social sciences (S4), in the U.S.

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.

Inequality and the Smart City

In this talk, I provide an overview of the promise and perils of the smart city, linking these to broader-scale technological changes occurring at global to local scales.

I then focus on the criticism that many elements of smart cities—for example, increased surveillance or algorithmic bias—may create or magnify societal and spatial inequalities.

The heart of the talk engages with one specific component of the smart city-inequality debate: how and for whom knowledge is produced within cities, with a focus on sensor placement, coverage gaps, and uncertainty variability.

A case study for Newcastle (UK) is presented to help illustrate the issues. In concluding, I highlight the importance of this aspect of smart city inequality, especially with regard to public health and policy efficacy.

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