More than 50% of the world’s population live in or around cities. By 2030 that number will grow to 60%. Cities are growing rapidly and major metropolitan areas already feel like they are at capacity. What can we do to prepare for the future and build for the quality of life we desire in cities?
Cities are the cornerstones of civilizations. Cities showcase a vibrant spectrum of diversity, culture, arts, science, human talent, economic productivity and cutting-edge innovations. They are often a nation’s beating economic & cultural heart that contribute high percentages to domestic GDP, are centers for job creation and are control centers for national policies. Cities can morph quite rapidly overtime as they show human mobilization at its finest and can be vastly different to other global cities in terms of sectoral productivity.
For example, San Francisco and Bangalore are two relatively specialized cities that derive much of their production from the service sector and are much more reliant on agricultural imports in comparison to Chicago and Jaipur, two relatively similar sized cities that have a more balanced economy. We must understand cities and their differences before looking at what we can do to improve them.
Developed and developing countries hold different requirements for city planning, however they are all currently unable to meet the demand ensuing for movement and transformation of these cities. They all are on a race to improve infrastructure, buildings and resources. According to Aromar Revi, director of the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS), 2/3 of the demand for infrastructure in Asia and Africa is still to be met. We believe that there are common global issues but each city has its own unique history, community, demands and therefore solutions.
On the flip side, with global trends such as digitalization and the Internet of Things revolution, we cannot simply take it that technological progress and products will result in the creation of clean and efficient cities. Those who supported the advent of the motor industry could not predict the heavy traffic jams, obesity or air pollution that would be unintended consequences of the proliferation of motorization. We should be wary of how technology is best employed to serve us.
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