Cyber Cities: Community and Communication in Changing Urban Areas

Cyber Cities

Introduction

A cybercity is any city which methodically incorporates innovative contemporary information technology in its general operations to more resourcefully and optimally oversee its performance and critical infrastructure. A cyber city is characterised by advanced technology infrastructure, different categories of communities, evolving work environment and conditions, and the population equipped to exploit the opportunities presented by the city. However, with the urban evolution adopting innovative technological solutions to enhance operational efficacy and communication, cybersecurity and privacy have developed into major concerns.  Therefore, to completely decipher the phenomenon of cybercities, it is fundamental to analyse the evolution of cities with technological advancements, classification and evolution of communities focussing on the development of online communities, the impacts of technology on the work environment, and the privacy and security concerns accompanying the rise of cybercities.

Classification of Communities

Community is a multidimensional phenomenon that describes a group of individuals who share a social category, interests, location, or sphere of influence and are continuously interacting with one another (Pinger & Seabert, 2016). For a group of people to be called a community, they have to share either territory or functions. Based on these parameters it is established that there are four types of communities namely complete territorial community, community of limited liability, community as a society and personal community. The complete territorial community refers to a group of individuals who share the same territory and interact with each other to perform several functions. Individuals in a complete community can live, work, and socialize without leaving the region. Complete communities are characterized by a strong sense of belonging and established primary relationships (Block, 2018). The community of limited liability describes a group of individuals who despite sharing the same physical location, do not interact as much with the others in the same locality.

 The community of limited liability share name, territory, but offer few chances for interactions for the individuals (Mahmoudi, 2016). For instance, the community may have schools, churches, and even shops that fulfil several needs of the individuals but lack higher-order goods and services. The community offers few and limited jobs. On the other hand, community as society refers to a non-territorial community where the individuals have mutual interests. The members of a society share a lot of functions despite the distance.  A society fosters a strong sense of belonging since the members usually easily relate to each other owing to their shared interest which could be occupational, racial or ethnic (Tonnies & Loomis, 2017). For example, Germans in Toronto are pone of the most institutionally complete communities without actually living in the same locality. The last type of community is known as a personal community.

Personal community refers to a group of individuals who don’t share a locality and rarely interact with each other. Personal community is usually based on a single or several attributes of the constituents and offers few or extremely explicit category of functions for the members of the community (Paveglio, Abrams, & Ellison, 2016). Personal community is likely to be founded on occupation; for instance, a labour union. The development of technology, which has led to the development of cyber cities, has significantly affected the territorial communities with an appreciable reduction of complete territorial community and the prevalence of community with limited liability. Technology has also inspired the widespread utilization of the internet which has led to the expansion of the community as a society. The development of cyber cities has increased size, density, and heterogeneity in cities which have led to the reduction of the sense of belonging primary relationships, and an overall loss in a community (Echeverría & Tabarés, 2017). In as much as territorial communities are fulfilling the immediate needs, to satiate the high-order needs can only be met by joining other non-territorial community such as online communities.

Online Communities

The technological developments, which have ushered in the Information Revolution, have significantly enhanced the capacity to communicate extensively and in innovative, supplementary ways which have modified the outline, configuration, and functions of the cities (Faraj, von Krogh, Monteiro & Lakhani, 2016). Technology has significantly affected the features of communication such as scope, speed, method, and content. Before the information Revolution, communication was mostly face-to-face and written communication such as letters, scrolls, and stone tablets. With the launch of the extensive application of electronic communication such as email, blogs, and skype, people, not just journalists, editors or publicists, had the facility to contact the masses with a single message. Previously, an individual’s opinions and comments got to only a few individuals, but currently, every single person has the aptitude to dispatch their opinions to many (Osseiran, Monserrat & Marsch, 2016). This shows how much technology has expanded the scope of communication.

Technology has also significantly increased the speed of communication. In as much as face-to-face communication is immediate, it has the stark disadvantage that all participants have to be on the same location (Hsieh & Tseng, 2017). Technology has inspired rapid communication among individuals, not at the same physical location. Additionally, technology has increased the variety of methods for communicating. For instance, skype enables face-to-face communication over long- distances. Individuals can also communicate over texts or online using e-mails. The information age is also characterized by the increased content regarding various subjects. In addition to creating information through data mining techniques, technology has also developed devices to locate, sort, and sift through the information. These technological developments have led to different ways of creating online communities. Online communities were created through various methods including discussion lists, bulletin boards, newsgroups, and chats, blogs and wiki, graphic interfaces, Virtual versions of real cities, virtual realities, and social networking sites (Jamei, Mortimer, Seyedmahmoudian, Horan & Stojcevski, 2017). Historically, online communities were initiated by academics and government agencies.

 Academic communities permitted individuals with the same disciplinary and occupational interests to assemble and debate ideas of mutual interests (Xu, Zhou & Ma, 2019). This led to a desire to maintain contact after meetings. As other individuals joined, the group grew; thus, the high numbers of individuals were glued together by the discussion lists and bulletins.  These were especially prevalent in the period before the development of the internet. Similarly, newsgroups existed before the creation of the internet. There are numerous newsgroups on various subjects and topics. The newsgroup and discussion lists are similar except the distinct difference in delivery method (Dhanvandan & Tamizhchelvan, 2017). Discussion list distributes all list messages to every member of the group whereas newsgroups hold all the messages in a central server where and individual needs a newsreader software to access the message. Newsgroups were originally referred to as Usenet.

 RSS feeds are also used in the creation of online communities since it lets the user set up several parameters to receive information from user-specified sources about issues relevant to the user (Kavoura & Borges, 2016). Chat, instant messaging, and texting also functioned like the channels on the radio, if an individual knew the channel they could connect to the community. Concerning the community features of blogs, blogs can be created to bring together a family group that doesn’t live in the same locality. On the other hand, other blogs enable other groups of individuals to share thoughts, ideas, and pictures; consequently, creating an online community (Anderson, Caldwell & Heaton, 2016). Additionally, an online community can form to collaboratively author documents jointly on many topics of interest in a forum known as wikis. Graphical interfaces have also led to the creation of online communities.

The Multi-User Dungeon, which was traditionally based on texts, allowed people to interact online either to play multi-person games or for educational purposes to hold discussions (Wellman & Gulia, 2018). MMPORGS have also le to the formation of online communities with the main goal being online gaming. Locational cities have attempted to develop a virtual presence. These virtual versions of real cities enabled the city residents to freely communicate with the officials and inquire about the different services. Therefore, it is evident that the various methods of creating online communities simply try to distribute information among the individuals in the community or to ensure that the individuals in a community are in touch with each other.

Evolution of Cities with Technology

Communities have evolved with the advancement of technologies. Communities have moved through pre-industrial communities, industrial communities, and post-industrial communities. These communities had different aspects and thus result in the development of different cities (Orum, 2018). The pre-industrial communities led to the development of cities whereby the individuals lived within walking distance of the individuals they interacted with. The urban structure was fairly stable and the cities didn’t progress rapidly. Interactions and socialization were entire with individuals within the same locality. The population of the cities was only altered by famine and natural disasters while war could obliterate the cities (Crone, 2015). However, with the technological advancements that ushered in the industrial revolution, the cities and communities underwent a significant change.

As the cities developed there was an overall increase in the number of communities in the cities. The classes in the cities also became more elaborate unlike pre-industrial cities which were subdivided into the elite area and the rest were organized into vocational and traditional areas (Johnson & Munshi-South, 2017). The communities were still based on location with interactions and socialization still being within the same locality. Individuals within the same locality shared a lot in common such as jobs, monetary and property holdings, and values and mores (Taylor & Derudder, 2015). Industrial cities significantly altered the urban landscape, the edifice of cities, and acclimatized to technological developments: transportation modifications, elevators and the rise of skyscrapers, CBD development, and expansion.

The society also became more differentiated into a more intricate class structure. The city became an undesirable location since it was crowded by the working class and the numerous factories (Taylor & Derudder, 2015). The privileged and the middle classes moved away from the cities significantly shifting the structures of cities into residential land encircling the urban interior. Post-industrial cities, characterized by service sector producing higher income than manufacturing, usually concentrate on retail, tourism and social economy. The post-industrial cities, established by knowledge and creative professionals, is usually characterised by urban sprawl, lower density, encompassing deterioration of the environmental, and high-energy functions (Breitbart, 2016). Therefore, with the development of technology and the rise of cyber cities the working environment has significantly changed. 

Alterations in Work

The information age has led to various changes in the structure and nature of work. The industrial revolution was marked by the division of the labour force into primary, secondary, and tertiary sectors with the primary sector focused on extracting resources while the secondary sector worked on the resources to create other products (Findlay, 2015). The tertiary sector concentrated on service production. The information age has led to the subdivision of the service sector into tertiary, quaternary, and quinary. Tertiary workers were then categorised into quaternary which involved intellectual activities and quinary which involved high level decision-makers. Technological advancements have altered a lot of things including the location of workers, jobs, nature of work, specialization, and restructurings of production. Technological development has also led to the deterioration of unionization, unparalleled development of the economy, trailed by significant levels of business collapse and joblessness (Kar, Mustafa, Gupta, Ilavarasan & Dwivedi, 2017). Additionally, the information age has led to the intensification of underemployment, an increase in part-time employees, an increase in self-employed individuals, and the waning of the middle-class.

Privacy and Security

The precipitous hyper-connectivity and digitization of urban cities have significantly accelerated security threats. To deal with these challenges, governments, urban planners, and other strategic stakeholders have incorporated high-level security techniques as an integral part of the cyber city administration, design, and processes (Butun & Österberg, 2019). However, these techniques have raised concerns about privacy. A cybercity’s security is usually maintained through constant surveillance which is normally both used as the enforcement of social norms and crime control. Surveillance through CCTV has become a significant design and management instrument utilised in turning cities into organized, harmonised regions. As much This also means that the government and other stakeholders have the instruments to violate the privacy of the citizens. 

Conclusions

 A cybercity is any city which systematically encompasses innovative contemporary information technology in its general operations to more resourcefully and optimally oversee its performance and critical infrastructure. Cyber cities are characterised by advances in technology which impact different aspects of a community which leads to the evolution of cities. Consequently, technology inspires the evolution of the various type of communities such as complete territorial community, community with limited liability, personal community, and community as society as well as the creation of online communities. However, cybercities are faced by several security threats which are normally controlled by surveillance which raises the public concerns regarding loss of freedoms such as privacy. 

References

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