Greg Lindsay's Blog

April 26, 2021  |  permalink

Harpers: “Negative I.D.”


My friend Atossa Araxia Abrahamian was kind enough to quote me in her “Annotations” column on vaccine passports for the May 2021 issue of Harpers. As you might imagine, I take a pretty dim view of “health theater” and its descent from security theater:

CommonPass and its competitors are a private solution to a public problem; they exist only because governments have failed repeatedly to keep their populations safe from COVID-19. Security protocols introduced at states’ peripheries have a tendency to creep into the center. Greg Lindsay, the director of research at the urban planning group NewCities and a co-author of Aerotropolis, noted how the “security theater” that developed after September 11 was pushed from airports and border zones into offices, schools, and stadiums. Vaccine passports, he said, are “another permutation of post–9/11 thinking.” Many institutions are already using apps such as ProtectWell and MyMedBot to require visitors to self-report. Soon, being asked to whip out a COVID-19 app at any gate or door could be the norm, as technology that grows out of the pandemic turns concert halls, restaurants, and bars into little airports. When this pandemic wanes, “CommonPass as it exists today will go away,” a representative for the organization claims. This only makes sense; as Singh says, “We don’t have a passport for the flu.” And yet as new variants emerge, we may have to learn to live with the virus–whether that means getting annual booster shots, or continuing to test and trace. Widespread contact tracing for COVID-19 may train individuals both to accept more surveillance and to keep their health information on hand at all times–ostensibly to prevent future pandemics.

Posted by Greg Lindsay  |  Categories:  |  Comments

About Greg Lindsay

» Folllow me on Twitter.
» Email me.
» See upcoming events.

Greg Lindsay is a journalist, urbanist, futurist, and speaker. He is the director of applied research at NewCities and director of strategy at its mobility offshoot CoMotion.  He is also a partner at FutureMap, a geo-strategic advisory firm based in Singapore, a non-resident senior fellow of The Atlantic Council’s Foresight, Strategy, and Risks Initiative, and co-author of Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next.

» More about Greg Lindsay


October 15, 2021

The VISION Podcast by Protiviti

October 02, 2021

The National Association of Realtors’ C5 Summit

October 01, 2021

Fast Company Innovation Festival 2021

September 20, 2021

CREtech Climate Presents: MOVE

» More blog posts

Articles by Greg Lindsay

-----  |  July 1, 2021

2021 Speaking Topics

Fast Company  |  June 2021

Why the Great Lakes need to be the center of our climate strategy

Fast Company  |  March 2020

How to design a smart city that’s built on empowerment–not corporate surveillance

URBAN-X  |  December 2019


CityLab  |  December 10, 2018

The State of Play: Connected Mobility in San Francisco, Boston, and Detroit

Harvard Business Review  |  September 24, 2018

Why Companies Are Creating Their Own Coworking Spaces

CityLab  |  July 2018

The State of Play: Connected Mobility + U.S. Cities

Medium  |  May 1, 2017

The Engine Room

Fast Company  |  January 19, 2017

The Collaboration Software That’s Rejuvenating The Young Global Leaders Of Davos

The Guardian  |  January 13, 2017

What If Uber Kills Public Transport Instead of Cars

Backchannel  |  January 4, 2017

The Office of the Future Is… an Office

New Cities Foundation  |  October 2016

Now Arriving: A Connected Mobility Roadmap for Public Transport

Inc.  |  October 2016

Why Every Business Should Start in a Co-Working Space

Popular Mechanics  |  May 11, 2016

Can the World’s Worst Traffic Problem Be Solved?

The New Republic  |  January/February 2016

Hacking The City

Fast Company  |  September 22, 2015

We Spent Two Weeks Wearing Employee Trackers: Here’s What We Learned

Fast Company  |  September 21, 2015

HR Meets Data: How Your Boss Will Monitor You To Create The Quantified Workplace

Inc.  |  March 2015

Which Contacts Should You Keep in Touch With? Let This Software Tell You

Inc.  |  March 2015

5 Global Cities of the Future

Global Solution Networks  |  December 2014

Cities on the Move

» See all articles