Most of the world’s population are now city dwellers, and mobile, wireless computers outnumber desktops. In an age of urbanization and technological ubiquity, how is the social compact around environmental degradation, science, and policy and planning shifting? What new challenges and what new tools are emerging?
This chapter, part of an edited collection titled Remaking the Urban Social Contract: Health, Energy, and the Environment (University of Illinois Press: 2016) examines three interrelated developments in the smart-cities movement through an environmental policy lens. First, it considers the rapid growth in investment in smart infrastructure designed to improve efficiency, and the impetus provided by global carbon emission reduction efforts. It then looks at shifts in transportation and mobility and potential structural changes in metropolitan land use patterns that may have significant impacts on regional ecosystems. Finally, it examines the implications of distributed sensing for citizen science and debates around urban environmental justice.