Cover Story: Urban Science and the Challenge of Big Data
Featured: American Cities, by Mayors of Chicago, San Antonio, Houston, Indianapolis, and Phoenix
PLUS: China’s Eldercare Predicament; The Gaza 'Time Bomb'; Metro Diplomacy; Taming Asia’s Megacities; Jazz Diplomacy; and more!
Washington, DC: Since Fritz Lang created the dream of “Metropolis” for 1920s cinemagoers…Since the World Fair of 1939 allowed people to walk through the dream and see ideas come alive first hand…The idea of a ‘city of tomorrow’ has enthralled for likely as long as there have been cities and tomorrows. Our next tomorrow could be imminent.The Diplomatic Courier has paid careful attention to the development of future cities for half of our existence with keen interest paid to the World Expo in Shanghai in 2010. For the event, the Courier and its parent company were responsible for a commemorative publication. The editors of this publication became fascinated by the intersection between the urban world and diplomacy. The focus remained in these pages for several editions. The demands of this century are assumed: bulging populations in the developing world, massive migration into the developed world, and the expansion of metropolis living creating huge demands on food and resources while forcing choices about human responsibility to the environment. We discussed these issues with an illustration (our flashback “Moment” in this issue) that depicted a self-sustaining city of the future. The suggestion of wind turbines and solar panels in urban environments is nothing new but the illustration hints at innovative possibilities. Irrigation and farming in the heart of, say, New York City? It may sound farfetched but the technology is emerging to make it possible. The imagination needed for the technology emerged first. In this issue we explore a trend only hazily coming into view just three years ago: the urban sphere vis-à-vis big data. Scholar of urbanization Michele Acuto has been writing about the city’s seductive power in international affairs for many years. This is the first time he explores the issue of big data. He explains: “The long-lived legacy of the city disappears in the immediacy of ‘real-time’ floods of data, and the attention span of the uninitiated urbanist, as diplomats and statesmen might be, plummets dramatically.” What better way to explain the power of the urban than mayors themselves? In this edition we feature five mayors from American cities who have embarked on remarkable diplomatic relationships with sister cities abroad. The result? Economic expansion, better bilateral relations, and increased tourism are just some of the most impressive. Foreign ministries and leaders of countries could learn a thing or two from these mayors. The city, as we’ve come to accept, is no longer appreciated only for its architecture. It is appreciated for its position in global affairs. Tomorrow may be less than a day away. Ana C. Rold is Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Diplomatic Courier.