Design, Control, Predict

Logistical Governance in the Smart City

2020
Author:

Aaron Shapiro

Design, Control, Predict

An in-depth look at life in the “smart” city

Aaron Shapiro shows us the true face of the revolution in urban technology, taking the reader on a tour of today’s smart city. Along the way, he develops a new lens for interpreting urban technologies—logistical governance—to critique an urban future based on extraction and rationalization.

Design, Control, Predict presents smart urbanism as both a logistical node and network. Where global flows of data and capital merge with widespread movements toward austerity and surveillance: there we find smart cities emerging on nearly every continent. Yet as Aaron Shapiro’s illuminating ethnographic research demonstrates, each node in that global assemblage is itself a logistical network within which algorithms orchestrate the circulation of bodies and bicycles, carceral logics and cybernetic imaginaries.

Shannon Mattern, author of Code and Clay, Data and Dirt: Five Thousand Years of Urban Media

Technology has fundamentally transformed urban life. But today’s “smart” cities look little like what experts had predicted. Aaron Shapiro shows us the true face of the revolution in urban technology, taking the reader on a tour of today’s smart city. Along the way, he develops a new lens for interpreting urban technologies—logistical governance—to critique an urban future based on extraction and rationalization.

Through ethnographic research, journalistic interviews, and his own hands-on experience, Shapiro helps us peer through cracks in the smart city’s facade. He investigates the true price New Yorkers pay for “free,” ad-funded WiFi, finding that it ultimately serves the ends of commercial media. He also builds on his experience as a bike courier for a food delivery startup to examine how promises of “flexible employment” in the gig economy in fact pave the way for strict managerial control. And he turns his eye toward hot-button debates around police violence and new patrol technologies, asking whether algorithms are really the answer to reforming our cities’ ongoing crises of criminal justice.

Through these gripping accounts of the new technological urbanism, Design, Control, Predict makes vital contributions to conversations around data privacy and algorithmic governance. Shapiro brings much-needed empirical research to a field that has often relied on “10,000-foot views.” Timely, important, and expertly researched, Design, Control, Predict doesn’t just help us comprehend urbanism today—it advances strategies for critiquing and resisting a dystopian future that can seem inevitable.
Design, Control, Predict

Aaron Shapiro is assistant professor of technology studies in the Department of Communication at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Design, Control, Predict

Design, Control, Predict presents smart urbanism as both a logistical node and network. Where global flows of data and capital merge with widespread movements toward austerity and surveillance: there we find smart cities emerging on nearly every continent. Yet as Aaron Shapiro’s illuminating ethnographic research demonstrates, each node in that global assemblage is itself a logistical network within which algorithms orchestrate the circulation of bodies and bicycles, carceral logics and cybernetic imaginaries.

Shannon Mattern, author of Code and Clay, Data and Dirt: Five Thousand Years of Urban Media

Design, Control, Predict

Contents

Introduction: Logistical Governance in the Smart City

1. Design: Optimizing the Ad-Funded Smart City

2. Control: Calculating the On-Demand Worker

3. Predict: The Logistics of Police Reform

Conclusion: Toward an Urban Counterlogistics

Acknowledgments

Notes

Index