Accepted Paper:

Can GIS help with the equitable targeting of "smart" interventions?  


Aleksandra Michalec (University of the West of England)
Enda Hayes (University of the West of England)

Paper short abstract:

The aim of this paper is to challenge the notion of "climate justice" in relation to the smart metering interventions. Using mixed-method approach, the paper provides a perspective on smart meters as an intervention for both "highly capable" and "highly disadvantaged" neighbourhoods.

Paper long abstract:

The imperative of climate justice calls for an equitable distribution of "burdens and benefits" related to the climate change policymaking. Applying the principles of climate justice obliges the decisionmakers to differentiate their resources according to the economic abilities of the citizens. As a result, some neighbourhoods are actively targeted with the additional interventions. However, while we can easily make a theoretical distinction between the mechanisms like environmental ban (=a burden) and financial incentive (=a benefit), certain policies do not sit comfortably in either of these categories. For example, smart meters could potentially be a benefit, provided they contribute to the lower energy bills. However, this is contingent on the personal energy use, inefficiencies at the building level, existing tariffs, and the engagement with the technology. Meanwhile, many research projects pilot smart technologies in deprived areas with an intention to reduce urban social inequalities. This research challenges this notion while looking at the relationship between the energy use, fuel poverty, housing, Internet use and social deprivation at the local scale in Bristol, UK. Using publicly available secondary data and the GIS technique of Multicriteria Decision Making, we have developed a proposal to target smart interventions in neighbourhoods based on the notions of "capacity to change" and "existing disadvantages". The results were then consulted with the local practitioners in order to spark a discussion about smart technologies and justice. This paper offers a perspective on smart metering and justice grounded in both quantitative data and qualitative deliberations.

Panel C05
Science, innovation and inequality: part of the solution or the problem?