This book, Millennial City is being released first as a serial blog. The book is a collaboration with Dennis Walsh and this blog is Part 2 of Chapter 8. We will publish Millennial City as an e-book when the serialization is completed. The book grew out of conversations that Dennis and I have had about the future of cities, sustainability, and the millennial generation. We think that these three domains, if you will, are coming together to create a new future – and just in time we hope.
CHAPTER Eight – Part 2
by Dennis Walsh and Glen Hiemstra
There is a new world of new cities ahead that calls for converging models, solutions, and technologies. The world cannot go on without this. But there is a dirty little secret to overcome; one that may shock or even disappoint you. Researchers have spent a few decades verifying the existence of something they call “computer anxietyâ€ and to a member of the “digital nativeâ€ generation this may be a surprise.
Some of the anxiety toward computers has to do with what the computer represents to people. Networked computer technology blurs the distinctions between “real lifeâ€ and life on the screen by supporting on-line communities in which users can portray themselves as a different gender or species and develop relationships with other users whose identity they know only in the context of these communities.
Where relationships could once only occur face-to-face, on-line communities support the notion that relationships can actually occur between two people who have never met. A dwindling portion of adults remain concerned about using. Not wanting to appear inept in front of their peers while using computers or being forced to sacrifice personal interactions with colleagues, the use of computer frustrated their sense of uncertainty about doing their job. There is a very real fear. They’re afraid to run the risk of being wrong or appearing unprepared.
The reality of the nature of the computer has changed over time. The power of the computer was mysterious in the early days, considered the domain of the expert and reserved for use in highly technical arenas. Over time computer use was transformed from memorizing and typing computer code at giant yet fragile workstations into the use of simple applications.
Technology is advancing. The internet connects 1 billion PCs, 5 billion cell phones and over a trillion webpages. Today’s handheld iPad 2 is as powerful as the fastest computer from 1985, the Cray 2 supercomputer. In a few decades, the computational power of the human brain will be available and cheap. That will impact every aspect of our lives. Think about it. Artiï¬cial intelligences will be more rational than people, though not yet intelligent in other ways. They will be able to model and improve themselves. They will repair not only exploited irrationalities, but any irrationalities that have any chance of being exploited in the future. I don’t know about you, but that could be chilling for some. Despite – or perhaps because of – these advances, there are some who refuse to use computers, or – at the very least – only use them in ways consistent with their ways of thinking.
What does this have to do with cities? And what does it matter anyway? Straight up. The answer is generational. You get it but your parents don’t and, if you’re in the workplace, maybe your boss doesn’t either. Their fears may be holding you back. But, at the very least, before cities can ever hope to seriously take advantage of converging models, solutions, and technologies, they must respond to the uncertainties of technological progress. The growth of intelligent cities depends on it.
The intelligent city is a smart sustainable city. One of the best things about a truly intelligent city is that they possess interoperable and scalable platforms. People are people. Simple applications are best, ones that are based on non-proprietary code and interfaces. It delivers the best of both worlds. Interoperability makes for effective smart traffic management solutions. The best of the best sensors reduce traffic, which reduces carbon emissions and generate additional revenues: That makes the intelligent city sustainable and attractive.
Europe gets it! They know the intelligent city is a smart sustainable city and they’ve taken it to another level. The Smart World concept is moving forward making the most of initiatives like IBM’s Smarter Planet and the Cisco’s Intelligent Urbanization and EcoCity development models.
The power of the Smart World idea is in its capacity to merge three different worlds into one: an Eco World, Digital World and Social World. The Smart World is a Smart Eco Planet of intelligent sustainable communities: countries, regions, cities, towns, villages, districts, and neighborhoods.
[Glen Hiemstra is the Founder of Futurist.com, and curator of Dothefuture.com. Dennis Walsh is a sustainability futurist from Canada best known for his work as the first publisher of green@work. Contact us through futurist.com]