What Will it Take to Build a Smarter New York?

Cassim Shepard and Varick Shute respond to an exhortation by Governor Cuomo to "build [the New York City area] back smarter" in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, and in the face of changing weather patterns, with some ideas on what that will entail.

There isn't one single solution to building a New York metropolitan area more able to withstand the "new reality" of rising seas and extreme weather incidents that threaten the city, argue Shepard and Shute, but rather a range of tactics across multiple scales that can make the area more responsive and resilient.

"The kind of coordination we have seen between federal, state, and local officials over the past few days points both to pathways and to pitfalls on the road towards multi-scalar collaboration. Financial, political, and practical collaboration will be vital to creating an infrastructure commensurate with the challenges ahead. The investments necessary won't come top-down from the federal government in our current political climate. Nor can we rely exclusively on the DIY, bottom-up efforts of community groups and individual citizens to build the infrastructure of the future."

"Both national leadership and community stewardship will be necessary, mediated by the policies, investments, and interventions of states and cities. To 'build it back smarter,' as Governor Cuomo has called for, will require a shift in understanding what infrastructure means, how it performs, and how – when it's well designed, resilient, and responsive – its public benefits extend outwards across multiple and nested scales of citizenship, from community, to state, to nation, to planet."

Full Story: From the Editors: Build It Back Smarter


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