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Cities get smarter

Richard Adler | Oct. 29, 2014
Cities can seem immortal, lasting for thousands of years. Imagine the possibilities when we make them smart.

Other big cities -- including San Francisco, New York, London, Dublin and Singapore -- have developed their own technology plans. Although they all share a strong belief in the power of technology, each city has come up with a set of distinctive priorities and strategies that reflect its specific situation and challenges.

Another hopeful sign of progress is the expanding interest of foundations and researchers in exploring the "science of cities," driven in large part by the explosive growth of civic data and the availability of analytical tools that can be used to understand how cities operate. The MacArthur Foundation has recently launched an initiative on Cities, Information, and Governance that has already made grants to support urban research programs at Harvard, New York University, the University of Chicago, the London School of Economics, the RAND Corporation and the Santa Fe Institute that will use big data in innovative ways. The foundation has also provided funding to NYU's Center for Urban Science and Progress for a new journal, the Urban Data Review.

There are some 557,000 municipalities in the world, ranging in size from tiny villages to huge mega-cities. As more of them get engaged in finding ways to use intelligent broadband-driven digital technologies to improve the lives of their residents, we are witnessing the emergence an entire planet of civic laboratories where the future of cities will be invented.


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