The glamour of digital technology can obscure the hard work of building healthy, sustainable cities.
Writing in Technology Review, Riad Meddeb, interim director of the UNDP Global Centre for Technology, Innovation, and Sustainable Development, cautions that an overemphasis on “smart city” technology “risks a transactional—and limiting—approach to city improvement, focusing on immediate returns on investment or achievements that can be distilled into KPIs.”
A focus on building “smart cities” risks turning cities into technology projects. We talk about “users” rather than people. Monthly and “daily active” numbers instead of residents. Stakeholders and subscribers instead of citizens.
According to Meddeb, “Truly smart cities recognize the ambiguity of lives and livelihoods, and they are driven by outcomes beyond the implementation of ‘solutions.’ They are defined by their residents’ talents, relationships, and sense of ownership—not by the technology that is deployed there.”
Meddeb calls on cities to look beyond the flashy appeal of technology and explore the uses of digital technology while also doing the less glamorous work of tackling urgent problems like climate change, inequality, and pollution. For Meddeb, city leaders and policymakers must “move beyond the sales pitches and explore how our cities can be true platforms—not just technological ones—for inclusive and sustainable development.”
Keanu Reeves Set to Play Daniel Burnham in ‘The Devil in the White City’
Planning is going to get a new level of star power as a limited series adaptation of The Devil in the White City gets ready for television screens in 2024.
Opinion: Aging Population, Declining Fertility Requires Long-Term Investments
Faced with the dire consequences of a one-two punch of aging populations and declining birthrates, one writer has suggestions for how policy can help ensure a better future.
The Tide Has Turned Against Open Streets
Once a promising development for advocates pushing for a less car-centric future in cities, the open streets movement has ceded significant ground to cars since the height of the pandemic.
Protecting America’s Manufactured Housing
Governments at all levels are finally waking up to the benefits of protecting and encouraging the production of factory-built homes, which offer an affordable, efficient form of housing that many Americans depend on.
Jacksonville To Replace Monorail With Autonomous Shuttles
The city’s aging monorail system will be repurposed as part of an expanded 10-mile shuttle system.
Richmond Weighing How to End Parking Requirements
A series of town hall meetings will allow the public a chance to give feedback about zoning changes in Richmond, Virginia that would include the end of parking requirements.
Sun City Center Community Association, Inc
City of Mesa
Town of Gilbert, Arizona
This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.