Synergies 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.

Synergies envision #2: ‘Somewhere versus anywhere’

Economic forces, popular demand, changing lifestyles, service innovation, & government ambiguity, are each combining. The combination is pushing towards ad-hoc low density urban sprawl. There is much policy and guidance from planners, and from researchers, but the forces pushing outwards are very powerful. There are some interesting options:

  1. Stronger regulation and incentives for all stakeholders, for high-density poly-centric development
  2. Change in policy to work with the low-density development – i.e. accept the reality and improve it
  3. Anticipate technology changes which might bridge the gap – e.g. zero carbon demand-response transport: distributed virtual public services: social network

Synergies envision #3: ‘beyond the technO-ZONE’

Mind the gap’ – in the emerging Urban Nexus, it seems we have too little knowledge / too much / wrong kind of knowledge. The question is how to share knowledge between MALPE policymakers / experts / citizens / other organizations? If we do nothing, cities will lose green areas, small towns will decline, large cities will sprawl. Some emerging ideas are coming from organization studies, public service models etc.

Synergies envision #4: ‘metro-village living’

City-Business-Citizen – ‘CBC’ – brings a new insight into the ‘relational city’ or ‘urban co-landscape’. People follow jobs, or jobs follow people: – but people also follow communities and places which have meaning. The rapid urbanization / peri-urbanization trend is not just a simple technical change, but has big effects on people’s lives and families, which may have unexpected outcomes. One direction is the tech-enabled globalized multi-locality of endless work/life combinations. Another direction may be the nature-enabled, localized, semi-rural communities, which keep their links to the past, while serving the needs of the future. Good local government knows this already, but may need to re-invent it for future challenges.