How small Greek islands become living labs for smart urban tech

Vice reports on the way big corporations forge deals with the Greek government to experiment with new tech. Volkswagen is testing and making claims about zero-emissions electric vehicle mobility. On the same island, there’s is a ride-sharing service called the “Astybus,” for both tourists and residents, which can be ordered through a smartphone app, “Astymove.” Amazon on another island is setting up a “smart hub” concept, that includes the use of drones, infrastructural works to upgrade the internet, and a variety of “smart” services

One of the key problems with such initiatives set up via public-private deals is that it does not consult local inhabitants and citizens, and what their wishes and concerns might be in becoming a living laboratory for smart technologies. This may lead to all kinds of mismatches and forms of exclusion:

“I think it’s a very good project but the programme is not very good for people who don’t know how to use a smartphone,” one driver of the Astybus service told VICE World News, withholding his name because the island community is so small and he fears creating problems for his employer.

And another proberen is that these kinds of deals are often hidden from public scrutiny:

Petra Molnar, a lawyer specialising in technology and human rights and a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center said that the plans also raised concerns over surveillance. “Greece has become a technological laboratory,” she said. “The use of high-risk border technologies like drone surveillance, various data gathering schemes, and opportunities for companies like Amazon… is concerning. Particularly because very little regulation and oversight exists around the use of these technologies and corporate interests seem to take precedence over everything else,” she said. “The rampant digitisation of public life so often does not take local context into consideration.”

Link to article on Vice >>

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