Chapter 9 - Intelligent spatial technologies for gender inclusive urban environments in today's smart cities

Elsevier, Intelligent Environments, Second Edition, 2023, pp 285-322
German S., Metternicht G., Laffan S., Hawken S.

Smart technologies have a remarkable potential for making our cites safer and more liveable. However, gender equity and gendered violence are largely ignored by mainstream smart cities and intelligent spatial planning approaches. Current approaches can exacerbate existing inequalities and violence due to the lack of awareness of the scale of the problem. Recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics Personal Safety Survey show that nine out of 10 women who experience a sexual assault do not report the incident to the police with the result that mainstream approaches ignore the seriousness and extent of gendered violence. Counter to this, there is a burgeoning movement amongst tech and gender activists to identify and raise awareness around such problems and to apply technology to make urban spaces safer and more inclusive for women and gender-diverse people. A range of social entrepreneurs and gender activists have revealed the extent of street harassment and gender-based violence in public areas and begun to suggest approaches for tackling this injustice. This chapter reviews recent innovative initiatives to harness the Internet of Things and Big Data to address such injustice in a two-part approach. Firstly, to investigate the range of safety tech available and critique these initiatives. And secondly to identify gender-based safety factors relevant for designing and creating safer urban environments. In the pursuit of more intelligent and safer environments, spatial technologies offer innovative ways to analyze these issues at scales ranging from local to national. The uptake of such tools is likely to improve liveability in cities worldwide. To answer these questions, this chapter methodically reviews a database of 82 papers to identify 21 relevant peer-reviewed articles and critiques 12 innovative urban technology initiatives focused on gender and urban safety. Our findings are presented as a set of recommendations that can help urban managers better understand how to address, for example, UN Sustainable Development Goals 5 (gender equality) and 11 (sustainable cities) and a range of related inclusive initiatives in cities around the world.