Phil Patton reviews "Intelligent Cities", a new effort by The National Building Museum, Time magazine and the Rockefeller Foundation to improve urban design and create "smart" cities.
"What is critical in making cities "smart" is not just data, it seems, but clear, accessible data that is often used for purposes government may never have dreamed of. Early in the symposium, Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, said that information to make cities smart was about "making it easier to do the right thing."
Some data need to be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. In his new book Makeshift Metropolis, Witold Rybczinski points out the illusions that are projected by raw density stats. The standard geographical definitions of urban borders and densities often hide more truths than they reveal. Many times, suburbia is tossed into the urban core. On paper, the density of LA and Chicago look similar; in fact, their greater metropolitan areas are a mix of compact sections and loose towns."