Computerizing Carceral Cities: Algorithmic Governance and Crime Control in New York City

Authors: Brian Jefferson*, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
Topics: Urban Geography, Cyberinfrastructure, Political Geography
Keywords: algorithmic governance, carceral geography, digital geography
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 2:40 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Beauregard, Marriott, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This paper examines the role of computer-controlled systems in urban policing and punishment. Focusing on New York City, it explores how algorithmic governance, or statecraft dependent on interconnected smart technologies, is mutating crime control. It builds the case that these systems simultaneously centralize and decentralize crime control, enabling the city to administer sections of urban space in ways that slowly but steadily resemble correctional control. The paper builds on granular analysis of city technical documents that identifies the strategic logics and functions of the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) network of automated alert systems, CCTVs, and location-aware devices. Focusing on the NYPD’s real-time datacenter and electronic monitoring program, it fuses concepts from digital and carceral geography to articulate how these networks are carceralizing the living spaces of surplus populations. In doing so it draws attention to the meshing of policing and artificial intelligence, and shows how this nexus is enabling the city to effectively upload carceralized spaces inside the urban environment.

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