Pandemic Urbanism

May 14, 2020

The ‘New Normal’ Revealed: Emerging Tech, the Smart City and Covid-19

By Will Brown (
Loughborough University

The author will give this presentation at the Pandemic Urbanism Symposium in a session titled “Public Spheres, Public Fears,” from 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM on May 29, 2020.

The ‘new normal’ is a phrase concerned with what will be after the worst excesses of the covid-19 pandemic have come to pass. In and amongst its constituent parts is the utilisation of various technologies. The development of the smart city has led to the rapid roll out of technological solutions with the intention of increasing sustainable practices and efficiency. Covid-19 is set to accelerate the expansion of the smart city. The technologies entwined within the response to covid-19 include contact tracing, infrared heat sensitive cameras and the expansion of surveillance technology, including the increased drone usage. These technologies are not new as such, but their widespread utilisation in the public sphere will be. Therefore, enquiry into the potential impact and effects of this union between technology and the public sphere is required. What my work seeks to do is analyse not only the types and domains in which these technologies are to be utilised, but to also draw upon the work of Martin Heidegger, specifically the notion that the essence of technology is bound up in the revealing new phenomena, to understand what the utilisation of these technologies will reveal about the city, those who live within its confines and the potential urban practices of the so called ‘new normal’. This enquiry will be carried out by analysing and coding the global utilisation of covid-19 related technologies in order to uncover trends and general practices. It is through this work that I will ascertain what is to be revealed.