This is an extract from a positioning paper I recently co-authored for Space Syntax around the future of the city. This post is an extract of the longer-term risks and opportunities.
The paper set out short- and long-term issues facing society, and suggested opportunities for technology to help address them.
Existing and emerging technologies provide potential solutions, but these need to be developed carefully to deliver a vision that everyone supports. Without going through this process and agreeing a social contract to operate them within, the risks have been widely publicised: a surveillance state, loss of privacy, loss of control and lives being ruled by multi-national tech giants.
This post sketches out a positive future supported by technology, where, in an older, post-work society, the city as an organisation plays a different role. In this future, tech provides a platform to stimulate local economic activity, provide access to services, develop new models of housing, protect privacy, and by integrating all of these, to attempt to address inequality.
This is the combination of a couple of talks I’ve given in the last few months to the ULI Urban Tech Committee and the Academy of Urbanism Digital Urbanism groups.
Urban Tech is something that has developed a lot in the last 10 years and which now seems to have a lot of interest and attention. There are a lot of terms – Future Cities, Smart Cities, Prop Tech, Urban Tech, etc – which are all slightly related but not quite connected in the way they could be.
One way of trying to understand how they fit together is by tracing what has changed in this time and what this means for the way we interact with cities.
While its interesting to see how things have changed, what is possibly more important, as professionals who work with, and in the context of cities, is to ask the more difficult “so what” questions of why things should change?
Here’s an outline of the reasons Why that will be explained in more detail below:
Better outcomes for cities and people
Creating benefits between public and private sectors in the short and long terms
More transparent and inclusive decision-making
Crossing siloes between planning and service delivery for more effective and efficient spending