Happy Christmas, and thankyou, from the Urban Technologist

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(The Empire State Building as seen from Greenwich Village, New Year’s Eve 2006)

As 2012 draws to a close, I’d like to look back briefly at the first year of “The Urban Technologist”.

Whilst I first opened this WordPress account in 2008, I used it rather sporadically as a personal blog, with a loose focus on emerging technology.

But 12 months ago I decide to write in a more regular and focused way about my work in Smarter Cities. My motivation was to share that experience and to start new conversations that I could learn from.

I have spent 15 years as a technologist, identifying new trends, and delivering projects to exploit them. That has never been simple; often exciting; and always full of challenges. But in cities I have experienced over the last few years by far the most complex, subtle, beautiful, challenging and meaningful contexts for that work in my career.

It is always useful to understand one’s own strengths and limitations; and early on I realised that my amateur enthusiasm was not a sufficient basis from which to build a real understanding of cities. So I have consciously built new relationships with planners, architects, policy-makers, social enterprises, businesses and many of the other stakeholders who understand cities professionally; or who play a role in them. In the process, I have met an astonishing variety of people, all of whom taught me something; often through conversations in which they disagreed with me – or at least expanded my thinking – in interesting ways.

Social media, and in particular this blog, have given me the most incredible opportunity to extend those discussions: through comments posted on the blog itself; through discussions in the Linked-In groups I belong to; and through the wonderful conversations I have in person whenever I meet someone who’s read something I have written.

I’ve commented in many articles on this blog that new conversations between the stakeholders and communities in a city ecosystem are the key to creating the common interest and understanding needed to drive a city forward. That same principle applies to the creation of knowledge within the wider community of Smart Cities and future urbanism. I hope that by writing this blog, and by basing it on the insights discovered through the conversations I take part in, I have contributed in a small way to that community.

(The thoughtful statue floating in Barcelona's docks that I use as the header image for this blog)

(The thoughtful statue floating in Barcelona’s docks that I use as the header image for this blog)

I’ll be taking a couple of weeks off over Christmas; but I will use the break to update the “Six steps to a Smarter City” article that I maintain as a structured guide to the content on this blog.

Recent articles that I’ll add links to include the review of the decision-making, financing and governance processes that successful Smart City initiatives have followed in “Smart ideas for everyday cities” and “No-one is going to pay cities to become Smarter“; the description of the engineering and information technologies that make Smarter city systems possible in “Pens, paper, and conversations. And the other technologies that will make cities Smarter.“; and the more philosophical discussions of the organic innovation that city environments – including their information infrastructures – should support and enable in “Inspirational Simpli-city“, “Zen and the art of messy urbanism” and “Should technology improve cities, or should cities improve technology?“.

In the meantime, though, I’d like to say Happy Christmas; and also thankyou to everyone who has read this blog or commented on it; and to everyone who’s thinking has informed and inspired me. I look forward to continuing our conversation in 2013.

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About Rick Robinson
I’m the Director of Technology for Amey, one of the UK's largest engineering and infrastructure services companies, and part of the Ferrovial Group. Previously, I was IBM UK's Executive Architect for Smarter Cities. You can connect with me on Linked-In and as @dr_rick on Twitter. The views expressed here are my own.

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