The future of open urbanism
December 4, 2012 1 Comment
(I’m a guest blogger on UBM’s Future Cities community; this article was published there last week. It builds on themes I first explored here in the article “Open urbanism: why the information economy will lead to sustainable cities“).
The rapid evolution of sensors, analytics, and automation technologies and their application to city systems such as transport, energy, and utilities offer a glimpse of the future.
These systems will support city populations more efficiently and sustainably. In South Bend, Ind., for example, an analytic system helps to predict and prevent wastewater overflows, avoiding the need to invest in hundreds of millions of dollars for upgrades for the system’s physical capacity.
However, the real power of these intelligent infrastructures is in their ability to influence our choices.
Stockholm’s road-use charging system, for example, influences the behaviour of travelers considering driving into the city and has reduced congestion and improved environmental quality.
At the World Bank’s “Rethinking Cities” Symposium in Barcelona in October, I took part in a panel discussion on whether this approach of including “externalities” (such as social and environmental costs) in prices would encourage widespread adoption of sustainable behaviours. The panel concluded that, whilst pricing is a useful tool, it’s not the only one and not sufficient on its own.
(The remainder of this article, which explores the opportunity for technology to encourage sustainable choices, can be found on UBM’s Future Cities site, as “The Future of Open Urbanism“).