By Geoff Ward.
Why we should be wary of a smart future
If SMART was an acronym: Surveillance Methodology/Advanced Reset Technology
Here’s the way it looks: smart phones → smart (ID) cards → smart meters → smart cars → smart homes → smart (digital) currency → smart cities → smart subjection.
Most of the population could find itself ‘smarting’ from this in the not-too-distant future. The potential for increased surveillance and control by centralised government and bureaucracy intensifies at each stage, with power falling into ever fewer hands.
We could become the inmates of a digital prison. Every aspect of our lives — and I mean every aspect — could be monitored and managed with Orwellian rigour, and vigour. A taste of such authoritarianism came our way under covid-19 lockdown policies (see my article of February 2021, ‘Covid 19/84: are we entering an Orwellian dystopia?’).
More of the same is on the cards unless the populace at large wakes up to an increasing threat and uses its electoral muscle — while it still has it — to minimise adverse outcomes. I say ‘minimise’ because I doubt that adverse outcomes can be avoided altogether. And now, please read on.
The European Commission website defines a smart city as ‘a place where traditional networks and services are made more efficient with the use of digital solutions for the benefit of its inhabitants and business’.
Already, the city of Apeldoorn, with 165,500 inhabitants, is being made the Netherlands’ first smart city by an Austrian company, RadioLED, which has installed a 5G network in agreement with the municipality, although it’s been reported that citizens were not consulted about it.
It should be noted that the EU is committed to the rolling out of 5G networks across Europe — in December 2022 it was announced that 39 projects including 5G and Gigabit networks had been selected for funding (see relevant EU webpage here).
Will smart cities eventually be enveloped by smart ‘supercities’ of the kind proposed for the ‘Netherlands delta’ embracing Holland, Flanders and the German Ruhr with a population of 45 million? I’ll look at the possible implications of this for the Netherlands, especially its farmers, later in this article.
First, I want to refer to cultural historian and philosopher Nicholas Hagger and his important new book, The Fall of the West (O-Books, November 2022, see my review here), which warns about the levelling-down of the West towards an undemocratic authoritarian world government — heralded ominously in the ‘Great Reset’ proposed by the World Economic Forum and its founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab.
By 2030, under this scenario, private property would be abolished and ownership of everything taken over by the corporate state. The ‘free West’ would see citizens stripped of human rights and personal freedoms under a Chinese communist-style regime.
Reliance on surveillance
It was in June 2020 that the WEF introduced the idea of the Great Reset which refers to the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, the merging of digital, physical and biological systems, and a reliance on surveillance to maintain public order, implying a merger of humans and machines: transhumanism The International Monetary Fund soon followed by publishing its own vision of a ‘global economic reset’.
The WEF is made up of government, corporate and cultural leaders, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), activists and journalists who support the transhumanist and technocratic mission.
In previous books, Hagger has described how, in the twentieth century, a group of elitist mega-rich families — the Rothschilds, Rockefellers and co-operators — levelled down leading Western countries by promoting revolutions, wars and independence movements, and planned a ‘New World Order’ and world government to control the earth’s resources for their own benefit. In terming this group, ‘the Syndicate’, Hagger equates it with the West’s ‘military-industrial complex’.
He identifies the Great Reset as a rebranding of Nelson Rockefeller’s ‘New World Order’ put forward in the 1960s which envisaged global centralised governance by unelected leaders drawn from the Syndicate.
The idea now, as Hagger points out, is that countries can move forward by developing infrastructure, ‘building back better’ and transferring to green energy, which involves changing to an all-digital, centrally controlled currency system that can used as a means of social control. A central bank digital currency (CBDC) would be controlled by central banks with ‘smart contracts’ used to control people’s lives.
It’s possible, says Hagger, that the Syndicate has used the covid-19 pandemic to make the populace take vaccines that contain atomic and molecular matter that can be manipulated by nanotechnology, allowing people to be ‘programmed’ by 5G (fifth generation) networks. (In this context, see this report, from November 2022, about an Australian medic’s analysis of the contents of the Pfizer vaccine).
A September 2018 report by the WEF’s Global Future Council on Cities and Urbanization, entitled Agile Cities Preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, says: ‘By merging the biological, physical and digital worlds, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is transforming the way people live. The rate of change unleashed by the Fourth Industrial Revolution is truly unprecedented, impacting all sectors and industries across the globe.
‘Cities, as global drivers of growth, must harness the opportunities and address the challenges brought about by this transformation. In this sense, “agility” has to be one of the defining characteristics of cities as they plan their future.’ (My italics).
For ‘agility’ read ‘smart’.
Metrics and guidelines
The report says it ‘begins to create a framework and provide metrics and guidelines for agility in the following key areas — city buildings, land, security, energy, mobility, education, governance and IT — that together will form the city agility index’.
Note the word ‘governance’.
Starting from city-specific case studies sourced through the Global Future Council, the report ‘illustrates how cities are being agile and serve as potential examples that can be improved upon and adapted by other cities to help them transform’.
The internet is becoming an ‘internet of things’ (IOT): how physical objects, or groups of them, fitted with sensors, processing ability, software and other technologies can connect and exchange data with other devices and systems via the internet or other communication networks — but with the attendant serious concerns about Big Tech risks to privacy and security and the need for standards and regulations.
The WEF sees IOT as part of the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ and the phrase interchangeable with that of ‘smart city’ (Smart at Scale: Cities to Watch: 25 Case Studies, August 2020).
In November 2020, the WEF announced that it had selected 36 cities across 22 countries and six continents to pioneer ‘a new global policy roadmap’ for smart cities developed by the G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance, hosted at the Forum. This was as ‘covid-19 is accelerating adoption of new technologies by cities as governments struggle to manage the growing pandemic with constrained resources’ (‘36 Pioneer Cities chart a course towards a more ethical and responsible future’).
Apeldoorn is one of those 36 cities. But, strangely, a search for ‘smart city’ (slimme stad) on the official Apeldoorn city website brings forth no results.
According to the Dutch weekly newspaper De Andere Kant (‘The Other Side’) of February 6, 2022, Austrian technology company RadioLED had developed a 5G network for the city in a secret agreement with the municipality which would monitor citizens everywhere using 500 small transmitters on lampposts. The article remains on the De Andere Kant website so they must still stand by it.
In March 2022, a ‘Stop Smart City Apeldoorn’ petition was launched by a working group of concerned citizens, saying Apeldoorn had been given the ‘dubious honour’ of being one of the 36 cities selected by the WEF. Citizens of Apeldoorn had not been sufficiently involved in permissions given to RadioLED and others and feared harmful effects arising from an infrastructure of multipoints: the small data centres on lampposts (petities.nl).
Risks and harmful effects
The petition called for citizens to have a say ‘in all administrative and financial documents about Smart City; independent research has been carried out into risks and harmful effects in the field of privacy and health; it is clear who is liable for possible damage’.
RadioLED’s website (radioled.eu) says: ‘The RadioLED core network is a Smart City Operating System in itself which empowers the municipal government to steer their city infrastructure.’ RadioLED has offices in Austria, Leichtenstein and Switzerland, and teams in Germany, Czech Republic Hungary, USA and the Caribbean islands.
There is also a smart city project in Amsterdam, operated as an open platform in which government, businesses, schools and local residents participate, the government taking up less than 15% and the rest run by the private sector under six themes: digital city, energy, mobility, circular city, governance and education, and citizens and living (pentasecurity.com).
Again, that word ‘governance’.
Singapore, as another example, has been carrying out a ‘Virtual Singapore’ project since 2014 with the goal of building ‘beyond a smart city, a smart nation’ utilising ICT and data.
This project is being carried out by national institutions in collaboration with global companies including Microsoft, Google and software firm Dassault in the form of strategic partnerships focusing on solving problems of healthcare, mobility and housing. Others involved are National Digital ID, electronic payment infrastructure, and Smart Nation Sensor Platform (pentasecurity.com).
There is another worrying aspect to all this.
The Dutch government wants to buy out up to 3,000 farms and major industrial concerns across the Netherlands because, it says, ammonia and nitrogen oxide emissions, illegal under EU law, must be reduced by half by 2030.
It should be noted at the outset that the Netherlands has a very strong agrarian and livestock sector and is the second largest exporter of agricultural produce in the world after the USA.
The nitrogen minister, Christianne van der Wal, has said farmers will be offered more than 100% of the value of their farms to quit — but the government says that forced buyouts will follow next year if voluntary measures fail (‘Up to 3,000 “peak-polluters” given last chance to close by Dutch government’, Guardian, November 30, 2022).
However, it’s claimed by a number of internet commentators that there’s a deeper motive behind the landgrab than the stated need for climate protection: a group of institutional investors and unelected globalists who envisage a TristateCity, a ‘supercity’ with a population of about 45 million extending across the Netherlands and parts of Germany and Belgium.
Sieta Van Keimpema, head of the European Milk Board and leader of the Dutch Farmers Defence Force (FDF), said: ‘It’s a fact that the WEF is pushing legislation that isn’t decided in a democratic way. The Netherlands is pushing legislation that has never been discussed in the parliament. Mention that the air is comprised of 85% nitrogen, and you’re slammed as a “climate denier”.’ (‘Dutch farmers battle technocratic forces driving them into oblivion’, thegrayzone.com, December 8, 2022).
Already, farmers have launched their own political party — BoerBurgerBeweging (BBB) / Farmer-Citizen Movement to fight provincial elections in spring 2023 (‘Dutch pro-farming party fires up the anti-establishment vote’, Guardian, November 18, 2022). But they are being branded with the usual perfunctory ‘far-right’ and ‘conspiracy theorist’ labels by an undiscerning mainstream media (‘How Dutch farmers became the center of a global right-wing culture war’, nbcnews.com, December 12, 2022).
However, an appraisal of the TristateCity enterprise is to be found in the November 2016 document TristateCity, a private sector place branding initiative: an exploratory research on the reasons behind enthusiasm for TriStateCity and the future development of the concept, written by Rianne de Reus as a BSc thesis for Wageningen University and Research.
The thesis focuses on the attractiveness of the TriStateCity concept to private sector companies and their marketing strategies, and sees it as a private sector initiative with government acting as a facilitator.
The introduction to the thesis says TristateCity was initiated and developed by Peter Savelberg, who has a background in spatial development: ‘Recently, he has visited several countries around the world, and his visit to China in particular inspired him to develop TristateCity.’
Savelberg is quoted as saying: ‘It is not a building plan, absolutely not, some people think that I want to turn the Netherlands into China city.’ He adds that TristateCity does not have any bureaucratic ambitions.
But that was in 2016. In June 2022, it was reported that Savelberg leads that group of international investors, and that the TriStateCity project is backed by the Dutch employers’ organiation, VNO-NCW (‘A TriStateCity instead of farmers?’ The Peet Journal, June 13, 2022).
The Dutch branch of the Speakers Academy describes Savelberg as an independent entrepreneur and urban innovator who ‘highlights the integral effects’ of new technological developments on urban structures and processes over coming years. These developments, according to the description, include smart mobility, the internet of things, nano-medicine, high-tech food and robotics.
A look at the TriStateCity Network website (tristatecity.nl) shows that it’s clearly globalist in intent, not least in its promotion of Parag Khanna’s 2016 book Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization, the third title in his controversial trilogy on world order. Khanna specialises in the fields of geopolitics and globalisation.
The ‘supercity’ or ‘megalopolis’, as a concept, is not new, of course, being defined as a group of metropolitan areas perceived as a continuous urban region, through common systems of economy, resources, transport and so on, integrated enough to make coordinating policy valuable: ‘The megalopolis concept has become highly influential as it introduced a new, larger scale thinking about urban patterns and growth’ (Wikipedia).
But this, combined in the future with ‘smart city’ ideology, brings me back to the opening paragraphs of this article and the crucial question that presents itself: which is the greater, the potential for good or for evil? You must decide.
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