Promoting a positive, caring outlook, for the one life we have

Smart Cities (But Not Too Smart)

Date(s) - 21/01/2021 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm


Despite many of our cities claiming to be “smart” these days, they would be largely recognisable to our great-great grandparents in their layout, structure, organisation, and day-to-day operations. Scratch away at most smart city projects and you find that they are very limited in their objectives, outcomes, and durability. Where implemented, many have come to be rightly criticised for being driven by technological availability rather than need or insight. They are also blighted by reasonable and wholly understandable concerns about privacy and data ownership. To make things even worse, infrastructure and service providers see the opportunity to silo and lock away data from smart systems preventing interoperability of data.

So, what role could this new paradigm of data play in future cities? What are the opportunities and risks of highly observed cities? What types of data can we collect, and should we be collecting it? In this talk, Professor Phil James will discuss some of the lessons we have learnt and the role this new data could play in re-imagined cities. The COVID-19 pandemic has generated both opportunities and new questions but also demonstrated some of the benefits of these new data sources.

Phil James is a professor of Urban Data at Newcastle University and director of the Newcastle Urban Observatory, which is the UK’s largest urban environmental monitoring programme. His research is at the intersection of engineering and computer science with a focus on the Internet of Things and environmental monitoring.


Who: Professor Phil James

When: Thursday January 21st at 7pm (Zoom opens at 6:45)

What: 45-minute online lecture plus plenty of time for interactive Q&A afterwards

How: Register using the Eventbrite link: If you prefer not to use Eventbrite, you can send an email to Susan Walker at and she will send you a Zoom link directly.


You don’t need to be a member. All are welcome! There is no charge to join us for this talk. However, if you would like to make a donation to our Charity of the Year as a thank you for the event, you can do so at our JustGiving page for Crisis Skylight Newcastle.




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