An article in Boom: A Journal of California extends the timeline of "smart cities" and "big data" efforts by a considerable amount—all the way back to the late 1960s.
Mark Vallianatos reveals the almost-ancient (by technology's standards) roots of the "smart cities" movement in Los Angeles.
"Beginning in the late 1960s and through most of the 1970s, the little-known Community Analysis Bureau used computer databases, cluster analysis, and infrared aerial photography to gather data, produce reports on neighborhood demographics and housing quality, and help direct resources to ward off blight and tackle poverty," writes Vallianatos.
Vallianatos focuses in particular on a product of the Community Analysis Bureau from 1974 in particular—"The State of the City: A Cluster Analysis of Los Angeles" report.
"A data-rich snapshot of LA from forty years ago, the report didn’t categorize Los Angeles into the usual neighborhoods or community plan areas, but into scattered clusters with names like 'the singles of Los Angeles,' 'the suburbs from the fifties,' 'richest of the poor,' 'gracious living,' and more. The nomenclature was seemingly drawn more from market research than traditional city planning reports."
Vallianatos goes on to detail the report's reliance on an "Urban Information System" in tackling the problems of the era.
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