The Global TechniCity

Jennifer Evans-Cowley's picture

Back in November I wrote about my adventure to create a free massive open online course, TechniCity. The course officially launches on May 4th. Tom Sanchez and I decided to do a soft launch over the weekend to get people familiar with what we were planning to do with a handful of fun questions. The results have been amazing and I thought Planetizen readers would be interested in learning about what people are saying about technology around the globe in the first 12 hours of this course.

What is TechniCity? The course explores how the increasing availability of networks, sensors and mobile technologies allows for new approaches to address the challenges that our cities face. It will cover how cities are changing, how technology is used to engage with the public to support decision-making, tools for analyzing the city, the infrastructure that makes the real time city possible, and how creativity can spawn technological innovation.

We have more than 17,000 people from more than 60 countries across the globe have signed up for this free course. This is exactly the type of global conversation we hoped to start around technology and cities. I mean how often can you get this many people interested in the same topic participating sharing all kinds of amazing ideas?

We partnered with MindMixer to host our engagement platform for the course. MindMixer does a great job with analytics helping to understand the demographics behind who is participating. Not surprisingly those interested in technology and cities are young, average age of 33. Seventy-four percent of those participating are male. And yes I recognize I'm typically the only woman in the room when people are talking about planning technology. Come on women, technology and planning is super fun and epic. Jump into this niche in planning!

We invited participants to share images of technology across the globe. We were overwhelmed with all the amazing ideas that people have shared. I have included twelve of the fascinating ideas that people shared below (there are lots more):

Some shared links to videos. This one from Germany is AMAZING. Pong crosswalk games. Instead of continuously pressing the button hoping that the light will change, play a game with the person across the street. What could be more fun!

Participates shared some really great images of technology in action. Others offered a sense of humor about difficult situations. My favorite is shown here:

In Case of Emergency Evacuate

We also invited participates to pick what they think a theme song should be for technology in cities. The three leading contenders right now are U2's City of Lights, M83's Midnight City, and Daft Punk's Technologic. What do you think is the song that best represents the combination of technology and cities? I have to say this is probably the best one I've every seen. A song about the perfect transit system. Planners should really find more fun ways to help the public understand how cities work.

We welcome anyone to join us, from the casual learner just hoping to poke around and pick up a few new ideas to the I need to know it all learner that wants to take in everything possible we have designed the course to accommodate everyone.

Ohio State University partnered with Coursera in fall 2012 to offer free online courses. Formed by two Stanford University professors, Coursera offers high-quality college-level courses online for free, creating new worldwide learning opportunities. Coursera courses can be taken for free by anyone who signs up by providing an email address. Technicity is available for 15 hours of AICP Certification Maintenance credit. Visit for more information.

You can follow me @evanscowley or Tom Sanchez @tomwsanchez.

Jennifer Evans-Cowley, PhD, AICP is the Vice Provost for Capital Planning and Regional Campuses and Professor of City and Regional Planning at The Ohio State University.


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