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The smart city becomes a city that is only as good as its software, built for obsolescence.

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Migaa – a 20-minute drive from the rubble of the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi, Kenya – is a new development complete with a private hospital, conference centre, “shop till you drop” mall facilities and a 200-acre executive golf course.

It’s If urbanisation is the defining trend of the 21st century, with 4.9 billion people predicted to be living in African and Asian cities by 2030 (the population of the world as recently as the mid-1980s), are we up to the task? Around the world, some 200,000 people a day leave the countryside – crops failing, the agricultural model broken – in a pattern of distressed migration that takes them to the slums.

Or is this the next real estate bubble, not sub-prime but super-prime, dressed up in the mushy atmospherics of eco-bling? Nairobi’s population has swollen to around 3.4 million. Its streets are jammed (the city recently rose to fourth in the world in IBM’s Commuter Pain Index), its services are crumbling.

They are going to have a lot of people camping in and around them, looking for jobs. As Slavoj Žižek notes in The , which means, ‘To murder somebody, bury his body, then grow flowers over the body to conceal it.’” From its IT systems to the merchandise in its malls, the smart city risks being an import city, closed to local skills and goods, with a reduced capacity to develop or integrate local expertise in the supply chain.

As a result, there’s the danger that it will become something close to an i Pad city, a mesh of topdown, closed systems, both vulnerable and interdependent, with a deskilled local labour force that’s unable to repair or maintain it.

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