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Convenient convenience

Smart cities are not businesses, and citizens are not employees of them


It looks like Amazon is about to redefine the whole concept of convenience in convenience stores. Its bricks and mortar Go store currently being beta trialled in the company’s home town of Seattle has a help yourself mentality thanks to the IoT.


Customers simply walk in and take what they want. Sensors audit what they have taken and the cost is then automatically added to their Amazon accounts.


No more queues, no payment to think of, no more shop assistants, and come to think of it, the end of that most analogue of crimes, shoplifting.


This is convenience in the true sense of the word: making life seamless, faster and as efficient as possible. Yet like anything with a convenience tag, there’s a cost. The loss of jobs is the most obvious here, but what about the lack of thinking on the part of the consumer?


Our increasingly smart city lives are underpinned and dependent on the big five tech companies: Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft.


In our news stories highlighted for you this week there are common themes: citizens being engaged in the new digital democracy, new opportunities and people power.


Yes technology releases, improves, enhances our lives but we have to make sure we can still see beyond all this wonderful convenience and care about it.


Reports of Amazon’s working conditions are downright ugly, there are calls for Google to review its search rankings in the light of right wing manipulation, and then there’s the whole issue of fake news on Facebook.


Smart cities are not businesses, and citizens are not employees of them. We need good governance to ensure that we remember this, and that there is a great deal to life then convenience.


Melony Rocque


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