Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent
June, 23rd 2009

The Smarter Cities conference has breakout sessions, as you would expect, on the “subsystems” of cities – transportation, health, education, and so on. I was reminded yesterday, in a preparatory discussion on public safety, that a main idea here is that there are important linkages between these subsystems.

Our discussion moved from new approaches in law enforcement and emergency response to the importance of safe streets to our educational systems, and from there to the contribution that education makes to safer communities, and then back again…

Of all the capabilities that being “smarter” provides, one of the most important is to be able to look across the subsystems, make connections, test hypotheses, take action. It’s natural enough to take separate looks at each subsystem, at least to start. But perhaps really new (smart) insights will come from the (more, or less obvious) linkages that we can find. I’ll be looking for those in particular as this event rolls forward.

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July 12, 2011
10:29 am

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Posted by: proxy list
June 24, 2009
3:49 am

With cities’ populations comprising an increasing percentage of humanity, we should surely also be looking at biopolitics and social psychology, not just the ‘subsystems’ that underpin the city infrastructure.

How will we be able to meet the healthcare needs of the city populous, given that some estimates predict the costs will escalate and outstrip the national domestic budget? Some expectations must be trimmed, oviously.

What happens when the population density becomes so great that it can be measured in increasing stress, anti-social behaviour and crimes of violence? How do we plan for and handle that situation without resorting to draconian measures? How do we inculcate tolerance and encourage social conformity (and who defines that?), retaining democratic freedoms while at the same time constraining these freedoms to meet the goals of a Smarter Planet?

Think of the road networks that are designed for a means of transport that one day may prove to cost more than the environment can afford. Freedom of travel is taken for granted today, but some unpalatable truths must be faced soon; maybe the not-too-distant future will bring rationed mileage for everybody.

It is all very well to talk of the need to be inclusive, but we cannot ignore the inevitability of disparity, where poverty and relative deprivation will continuously present challenges to city planners and budget holders.

I am inclined to believe that cities will increasingly turn in on themselves and, in the pursuit of controlled spending and balanced growth, begin to develop along the lines of ‘city-states’.

Posted by: Simon Drew
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July 1, 2009
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June 24, 2009
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June 23, 2009
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