Last week, representatives of many of the world’s leading cities – including London, Boston, Mexico City, Barcelona and Christchurch – came to San Francisco to learn from Silicon Valley entrepreneurs about how to make their cities smarter. One of the people behind this LLGA Cities Summit was the Silicon Valley entrepreneur Peter Hirshberg, formerly the chairman of Technorati and now one of the world’s leading pioneers of smart cities.
Citing innovative urban data startups like MotionLoft and QuickPay, Hirshberg believes there are now huge opportunities for entrepreneurs with products that can make a city smarter. We are just at the beginning of this thing, he told me, before explaining that the biggest entrepreneurial opportunities lie in the development of crime, healthcare and traffic data – particularly in terms of making this data “predictive”.
But smart cities are about more than just making money, Hirshberg believes. In the Sixties being a citizen meant we protested, he told me, while today the good citizen builds APIs that make a city more habitable. And that’s why, he insists, we have to make what he calls “smart architectural decisions” to enable the right level of anonymity in the 21st century city. Otherwise, he warns, the smart city of the future will be too smart about all of us, thereby destroying the privacy of its citizens.