The future of open urbanism

(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“).

(Delegates browsing the exhibition space in Fira Barcelona at the World Bank’s Urban Research and Knowledge Symposium “Rethinking 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“).

About Rick Robinson
I’m the UK, Middle East and Africa leader of the Digital Cities and Property business for Arup, the independent design and engineering company. Previously, I was Director of Technology for Amey, one of the UK’s largest engineering and infrastructure services companies, part of the international Ferrovial Group, and before that IBM UK’s Executive Architect for Smarter Cities.

One Response to The future of open urbanism

  1. Georg says:

    Hey, for others also interested in this topic. I think there is a really cool mooc of the leuphana digital school starting in january: “ThinkTank – Ideal City of the 21st Century”, led by Daniel Libeskind – in teams from all over the world you can create your ideal city! More info: http://www.facebook.com/LeuphanaDigitalSchool

    Like

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