The next leap in urban design may very well be greenhouses. These are not the quaint and cluttered backyard hothouses with which you are familiar. Rather, these are veritable green compounds—more reminiscent of Star Trek than anything your eccentric neighbor owns. Take for example, the University of Arizona’s $450,000 greenhouse at the South Pole. Suddenly, the most extreme environment on earth can be depended upon to provide year-round produce. Gene Giacomelli, a contributing researcher on the project, declares unhesitatingly that greenhouses “can grow any crop anywhere at any time.”
A new report, released by the World Economic Forum this summer, in collaboration with the Boston Consulting Group, titled “Connected World: Hyperconnected Travel and Transportation in Action” forecasts the future of changing global travel. According to the report, the lack of private sector cooperation, bipartisan consensus, and global standards currently hinder the progress of seamless travel and transport. The report notes four key areas that can help to overcome this difficulty through the integration of technology we already have, future traffic management systems for major metropolises, a modernized visa, advanced airport security and border control processes, as well as high-tech logistics optimization.
By 2050, 70 percent of humanity will live in urban environments, the most significant change in humanity’s living conditions since the shift from hunting-gathering to agriculture. But what does this number really mean? How will cities change—and change us—in response to this influx of people?
Hamburg is getting an upgrade. On April 30, 2014, Cisco and leaders of the City of Hamburg signed a Memorandum of Understanding that marked the beginning of a Smart City pilot program. This agreement follows the December 2013 Smart City Summit, where representatives of Hamburg’s public sector, research and educational institutions, and local and international companies came together to outline a Smart City framework.
Urbanization, more than any other process affecting our world today, has affected humanity’s relationship with our surrounding environment. According to The Economist, 64.1 percent and 85.9 percent of the developing and developed world respectively will live in urban centers by 2050, resulting in the most important change in humanity’s settlement patterns since our shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture thousands of years ago.
Smartphone apps are challenging the way we look at urban transportation. One such app, the increasingly popular Uber, connects passengers with drivers in urban areas, acting as a ‘taxi service’ for the modern era, although Uber founders Travis Galanick and Garrett Camp are careful not to call it that.
Booming cities are driving global economic growth in many parts of the world. We live in an age of extraordinarily rapid urbanization: The number of people living in cities is predicted to grow by more than 2.5 billion over the next 40 years—mostly in emerging countries such as China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Mexico. Much of this growth will occur in places that were small towns or modestly-sized cities only a few years ago, but are now on the way to becoming much larger than New York or Los Angeles.
Cities can often be conceived as an urban narrative expressing a national reality. They reflect a true image of the society that constructed them and frame the power logics imprinted upon their inhabitants interactions. The unconscious dialectic between space and its relation to the city’s inhabitants becomes the silent discourse reproducing power structures imprinted upon the nation’s history. In this sense, space and the political organization of space express social relationships. As noted by several post-Marxist scholars, space in itself might be conceived as a physical context, but the organization, and meaning of space is a product of social translation. According to Harvey, spatial forms are seen not as inanimate objects within which the social process unfolds, but as things containing social processes in the same manner that social processes are spatial. Therefore, social relationships can be understood as both space-forming and space contingent. Urban practices articulating spaces where life is to be experienced, silently organize the language determining the conditions of the social. Hence, space becomes an operator of power.
There is nothing so influential, so central to our daily lives as our immediate physical environment. Our environment influences and shapes our behavior to such a great extent that its design deserves a prominent place in the discussions about conflict management, foreign policy, and diplomatic relations. What if we used urban planning, in sync with local ecology, to directly address armed conflicts, crime, poverty, and health epidemics? It may be that changing an area’s urban infrastructure will prove to be more effective—and cost less in lives, time, and money—than conventional policy and traditional intervention solutions that underestimate the power of a physical space’s persuasion.
Early in 2009, Robert J. Lovero was elected Mayor of Berwyn, Illinois. Six members of his organization, Democratic Citizens of Berwyn (DCOB) were elected aldermen, giving Mayor Lovero’s Party a convincing majority on the eight-member City Council of Berwyn, a near-west suburb of Chicago called “The City of Homes.”
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