A Proposed List of the 'First Principles of Urbanism'

The chief policy officer of Google's Sidewalk Labs proposes six first principles of urbanism to frame the potential impact of technology on urban environments.
September 13, 2016, 1pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Sean Pavone

Rohit T. Aggarwala, the Chief Policy Officer at Sidewalk Labs, has penned a list of "first principles of urbanism" that he intends to use to guide the deployment of technology in cities. The first principles, according to Aggarwala, "identify the essential efficiencies—and costs—of urban environments."

Before launching into the list of first principles, Aggarwala cautions against relying on "arguments for cities that are only true today because of current technology or institutions" and also against mistaking "preferences for intrinsic values."

Aggarwala's first principles are listed in three efficiencies and three costs. On the efficiencies side are resource conservation, greater asset utilization, and the prevalence of physical interactions. On the costs side are a reliance on central systems, a reliance on courtesy and trust, and the need for coordination.

Aggarwala's hope is for these first principles to "form a framework to help us evaluate how changes in technology might affect cities in a thoughtful and systematic way. 

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Published on Monday, September 12, 2016 in Sidewalk Talk
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