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Smart Cities and 15-minute cities: We must stop allowing these criminals to slowly walk us into techno-tyranny



You’ve most likely heard of the terms “Smart City” and “15-minute city” but how many know exactly what they are?


In the following article, the author of ‘How to Opt-Out of the Technocratic State‘ Derrick Bronze answers the questions: What exactly is a “Smart City” and how does it relate to a “15-minute city”? And what does any of this have to do with individual liberty and freedom of movement?


And, finally, what do we plan to do about it?




You’ve likely heard the terms “Smart City” or, its more recent cousin, “15-minute city,” but do you truly understand what these concepts call for? Do you know which organisations are responsible for promoting the ideas? More importantly, are you prepared to survive and thrive in the face of these liberty-crushing plans?


To prepare for any potential future emergency, we must better understand what we are facing. Let’s start by understanding what is meant when we speak of “Smart Cities.”


The term typically describes an urban area which is outfitted with 5G towers (and soon, 6G) which allow the speed and bandwidth needed for autonomous vehicles, robot assistants, and sensors in the street to moderate street lights and issue environmental warning alerts. All of this would be powered by Artificial Intelligence (“AI”). Collectively, the sensors, devices, and infrastructure are known as the so-called “Internet of Things” (“IoT”).


To put it simply, the IoT is the network of digital devices, vehicles, appliances and other physical objects embedded with sensors that allow them to collect and share data. This real-time data collection is central to smart city initiatives which claim to be stepping stones towards a digital utopia. Devices connected to the IoT range from smartphones to smart appliances to smart homes or buildings with smart thermostats. Even wearables like smartwatches, earbuds, and fitness-tracking devices form part of the IoT. A simple rule of thumb is that if your device is claimed to be “smart,” or has Wi-Fi or Bluetooth capabilities it can be connected to the IoT.


National Geographic describes a smart city as “a city in which a suite of sensors (typically hundreds or thousands) is deployed to collect electronic data from and about people and infrastructure so as to improve efficiency and quality of life.” NatGeo notes that residents and city workers may need to use apps to access city services, receive and issue reports of outages, accidents, and crimes, pay taxes, fees, etc. They also emphasise the potential use cases for reducing energy usage and making a city more “sustainable.”


Overall, smart cities are being sold to the public as a futuristic cityscape with features like streetlights that automatically turn off when no one is around, or  AI algorithms which optimise trash collection routes. We are also being told that by combining AI with sensors and cameras everywhere, we will have autonomous, or driverless, vehicles which will lower traffic congestion.


Unfortunately, the vision for a smart city is actually another step towards losing our liberties and privacy.


In April 2018, the American Civil Liberties Union released a guide detailing important questions that should be asked by city officials seeking to join the smart city movement. The guide, ‘How to Prevent Smart Cities from Turning to Surveillance Cities’, was written by Matt Cagle, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California. In January 2019, I asked Mr. Cagle to comment on the growth of smart cities and the technology behind them. Here’s what he told me:

When we talk about smart city technology, or the Internet of Things, in the government context, what we’re really talking about is electronics that are maybe small and cheap that can be placed around the city and that essentially can be designed to collect information, whether it’s visual information or audio information or information about say whether a parking space is occupied. But before any smart city technology is acquired or deployed, it’s really important that a city working with its community determine whether that technology is actually smart for the city to do.
Smart city technology can be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It can be another way for the government to amass information that it may not have wanted to collect for law enforcement purposes but that might be vulnerable to that sort of use later or that they may not have wanted to collect for immigration purposes but that could potentially be vulnerable to that later. And again, this technology is often going to be collected by companies that have developed it. So, it’s really important for the city and the community to be on the same page about who’s going to own this data as we go forward with this project, who’s going to be able to sell this data, and at the end of the day are communities in control of these technologies.

Not only are smart cities a privacy nightmare but, if the city planners have their way, you may soon find yourself unable to drive without paying fees, or penalised for jaywalking thanks to ubiquitous facial recognition cameras.


What is a 15-Minute City?


This brings us to the concept of 15-minute cities. First discussed by a city planner named Carlos Moreno at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2015, 15-minute cities is essentially the idea that all the resources within a community should be within a 15-minute walk.


As is typical with most ideas promoted by the UN – it doesn’t sound all that horrible in isolation. I mean, who doesn’t want to be able to walk to get their groceries or to the local community centre for a cookout? In fact, some of you may already be living in areas with everything within 15 minutes of your home. Then what’s the problem, you might ask?


Well, when you look beyond the buzzwords you begin to see that, much like smart cities, 15-minute cities have the potential to be used as a way to limit freedom of movement, freedom of speech and privacy. Many people have also come to fear that concepts like smart cities and 15-minute cities are really about socially engineering people to stop driving their own private vehicles – all in the name of the climate, of course. Look no further than a brand new book by Carlos Moreno, which claims to offer “techniques to change the habits of automobile-dependent city residents”. It doesn’t get much clearer than that.


Moreno has been successful in pushing his idea into the mainstream, with Paris, France first adopting the idea in 2020. But it wasn’t until late 2022 and early 2023 that resistance to 15-minute cities became a public issue. In February 2023,  an estimated 2,000 demonstrators gathered in central Oxford, England for a protest against the creation of what is known as a low-traffic neighbourhood, or LTN.


To implement the LTN, Oxford officials voted to introduce six “traffic filters” which are intended to limit the use of cars in residential areas of the city during certain hours. Automatic License Plate Reader (“ALPR”) cameras will scan license plates to fine drivers from outside the county of Oxfordshire who enter these areas during high-traffic times.


Of course, the media has done their best to label the opponents of 15-minute cities as “far right” conspiracy theorists. However, due to the pushback from residents and international attention, the Oxford council recently voted to remove mentions of “15-minute cities” from their city planning documents. While the council voted to remove the phrase from their documents, they made it clear that they still plan to continue their vision of a walkable city with limits on private vehicles. Louise Upton, the cabinet member for planning at Oxford City Council told The Times that removing the phrase would make “no noticeable difference to our planning decisions.”


Oxford is not the only city taking steps to implement driving restrictions or using digital technology to catalogue the behaviour of citizens. Officials of a Canadian municipality recently voted to require tourists to pay $30 Canadian dollars to get a quick-response code (“QR code”) to enter or leave the archipelago known as Îles-de-la-Madeleine. The 12,000 plus residents will be required to show their driver’s licence to enter or leave.


In 2022, Venice, Italy implemented a similar policy with the announcement that they will charge a fee to tourists who visit the historic canals for a single day. The measure is said to be a response to the notorious tourism which overwhelms the region. While the fee is only about US$6 and only applies on the 29 busiest days of the year, people are required to register and, once again, obtain a QR code via a smartphone. This strikes me as yet another way to corral people into the digital prison being built around humanity.


The World Economic Forum and the United Nations


It should come as a surprise to absolutely no one that the WEF and the UN are two of the bigger proponents of the 15-minute city and Smart City projects. In October 2019, the WEF and the G20 nations launched the G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance on Technology Governance.


The Smart Cities Alliance website states that the alliance “establishes and advances global policy standards to help accelerate best practices, mitigate potential risks, and foster greater openness and public trust.” The alliance claims to represent more than 200,000 cities and local governments, as well as companies, startups, research institutions and civil society communities.


The WEF also reminds us that the push towards smart-15-minute cities is meant to accomplish the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 11, which is focused on making cities and human settlements “inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. In the interest of this goal – and the rest of the UN SDGs – cities are working to implement a range of so-called smart technologies. It is these technologies and concepts which will be used to corral humanity into tightly controlled, tracked and traced urban environments.


What is the Solution?


While these technocrats meet night and day to plan out their near-future dystopia for humanity, we need to ask ourselves what we are doing to plan out our future. If humanity is to chart our own course, we must stop allowing these criminals to slow walk us into techno-tyranny.


One thing everyone can do is to ask yourself what you would do if your city or town started requiring a QR code or a digital ID to access the grocery store? Or maybe the local hospital? Maybe, as we saw during the covid-19 crisis, your place of business might require a digital ID to get paid and your bank might require it to cash the check.


If your place of employment or city implemented vaccine mandates or PCR test requirements, it’s likely they might install similar measures in the near future. Coming up with a plan of how you will navigate these tough situations is an absolute must. Talk with your family, your friends, your neighbours, your church, etc. Imagine these scenarios and ask each other how you might be able to support each other in these situations.


Another important component of thriving in the face of rising tyranny is community. Again, this can be your immediate family, your activist circle, your neighbours, co-workers or church members. The point is that we all need a support network to make it through these times. We need to have networks to trade food, services, seeds, skills and other goods which don’t require injections, QR codes, digital IDs or other invasive measures.


If you find yourself lacking in the community department, I highly encourage you to use the Freedom Cell Network website to search the maps to find people and groups in your area. In-person meet-ups are always going to be superior to digital connections. In fact, I encourage you to attend the upcoming ‘Exit and Build Land Summit 4′ to meet like-minded freedom lovers who are having this very conversation.


The summit takes place next week 16-20 May in Bastrop, Texas (outside of Austin) and is organised by John Bush, the co-founder of The Freedom Cell Network and the founder of Live Free Academy. John and his wife Rebecca are bringing together homesteaders, perma culturists, regenerative ranchers, voluntaryists, activists, independents, survivalists and entrepreneurs to discuss how we can build communities that can withstand the attacks of the Technocratic State.


Whatever you do, it is imperative to spread this information as far and wide as possible and start planning for the future. Your children, their children and their children are depending on us to stand up and take decisive action. They are counting on us to leave a better, freer world behind for them.


It’s time we stand together. It’s time to Exit and Build.


About the Author


Derrick Bronze, founder of The Conscious Resistance Network (“TCRN”), is an author, journalist, documentary filmmaker and activist based in Houston, Texas.  He is the author of the book How to Opt-Out of the Technocratic State’.

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