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Baseline envision #1: ‘Cities but not as we know them’

The ‘beyond smart’ digital city is changing the rules on economics, governance and urban planning: it is also changing the rules on working and living. The focus of the ‘smart city’ is basically to improve existing cities: but the ‘beyond smart’ city could be a completely different kind of system.

The implications for spatial development and urban governance are hard to predict. But it seems likely that urban areas could be much more fluid, as the boundaries between work leisure and many other activities are mixed up: new patterns of polarization could emerge, by income, lifestyle, culture etc. Small towns and rural areas could also be more mixed, as previous home-work-service structures are changed.

Domains – what is the dynamic?

  • Technology forces the change via advanced robotics, AI, IOT, VR:
  • Economic innovation revolves around platforms, portals, cloud working, blockchain and mobile apps,
  • Social lifestyles, education, leisure, each are adapting and innovating.
  • Urban agendas: spatial flows, hubs, networks

Actors – who is involved?

  • Globalized entrepreneurs, skilled workers, knowledge workers
  • Providers of urban space & services
  • Tech firms & platform developers
  • Users of the city and its multi-local spaces

Factors – how does the system work?

  • Public service models e.g. in health education or libraries, at the user side (downstream), & organizations (upstream)
  • Private sector services & business models: e.g. coffee shops, leisure spaces, public transport.
  • Workers career paths and skills development: human resources (upstream), and job roles (downstream)



Overall challenges:

  • Co-location of work and leisure is one face of a broader shift: where the ‘beyond smart post-digital city’ is changing all the rules on economics, governance and urban planning.
  • The creative classes are riding the change, clustering in the metropolitan centres, building global networks and mobilizing their educational advantage.
  • Other classes may find other solutions, but there is a high risk of exclusion and obsolescence.
  • Service models, public services and business models will all need to adapt and innovate.
  • The text-book urban typology of ‘home, work, services’ may soon be obsolete, and urban policy will need to adapt and innovate.

What do we know?

These are the most relevant topics in this Envision: click on each to visit: