Article: COVID-19 has opened the floodgates for smart cities—whether we like it or not

Cities, Open Space

COVID-19 has opened the floodgates for smart cities—whether we like it or not

The COVID-19 pandemic will be “a lubricant for the smart city,” according to one urban planning expert. From banal city service digitization efforts to ubiquitous urban surveillance systems, the smart city may be materializing faster than expected, says Klaus R. Kunzmann, a professor emeritus and the former head of the Institute of Spatial Planning at the Technical University of Dortmund, Germany.

In a recent article for disP—The Planning Review, Kunzmann argues that the conditions created by the pandemic will make it much easier for local governments to pursue smart city solutions in areas such as traffic controlcrime prediction, and data sensors.

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Article: A City Is Not a Computer

Cities, Innovation, Open Space

A City Is Not a Computer

“What should a city optimize for?” Even in the age of peak Silicon Valley, that’s a hard question to take seriously. (Hecklers on Twitter had a few ideas, like “fish tacos” and “pez dispensers.”) 1 Look past the sarcasm, though, and you’ll find an ideology on the rise. The question was posed last summer by Y Combinator — the formidable tech accelerator that has hatched a thousand startups, from AirBnB and Dropbox to robotic greenhouses and wine-by-the-glass delivery — as the entrepreneurs announced a new research agenda: building cities from scratch. Wired’s verdict: “Not Actually Crazy.” 

Which is not to say wise. For every reasonable question Y Combinator asked — “How can cities help more of their residents be happy and reach their potential?” — there was a preposterous one: “How should we measure the effectiveness of a city (what are its KPIs)?”

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