Urban Information Infrastructure to Support Urbanization

APA International Division


Sunday, July 3, 2016
4 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. CDT

CM | 0.50

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For some time, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have been inducing changes in city form and in the behavior and urban activities of people and firms.  The general trend is evident but not the specific mechanisms and dependent paths.  This talk suggests that we need to pay more attention to urban information infrastructure as an enabler of urban change and a key ingredient in our capacity to manage urbanization in ways that can respond to the evolving needs of residents.  We use land use and transportation interaction as an contextual example and argue that the ripple effects of ICT are just starting to be felt – much like the effects of automobile and subway technologies as viewed from the early 20th century.   

ICT-driven changes in the economics of place and various urban mobility options are both facilitating certain types of decentralization and motivating particular types of agglomeration.  During periods of rapid urbanization, it is easy to overlook the evolving nature of ICT-driven changes.  However, they are multi-stage with their nature and timing quite dependent on the development of intermediate products and services that facilitate behavioral adjustment and new urban activity patterns.  As a result, the development paths are too uncertain to be entirely planned as part of a ‘top-down’ effort to make cities ‘smart.’ 

 The pace and innovativeness of ICT-driven change can also be quite dependent on the available ‘information infrastructure’ and on the policies and rules that determine what data (and data services) are ‘public,’ ‘open,’ ‘shared,’ ‘self-supported,’ etc.  To illustrate the key ideas and develop the argument, we examine the emergence of autonomous vehicles and the introduction of new tools and regulations regarding the availability and pricing of parking.  Our findings suggest that cities should view urban information systems as infrastructure that not only enables urban management and service delivery but facilitates the accumulation of ‘city knowledge.’ If this city knowledge is shepherded as a public good, it can help us recognize and respond to the rapidly changing economic and social pressures that are reshaping our metropolitan areas.