There’s no looking back for cities as technology gets smaller, cheaper, and more advanced. The Digital City produces data at an astonishing pace, with citizen interactions rarely happening without a smartphone in hand. But is this vision reality? Have digital technologies improved cities or created a new way to alienate the socially disadvantaged? Are apps the beginning of a digitally immersive urban transformation or just a bit of fun? And are these questions coming too soon? Has the Digital City just started living up to its potential? And what is the potential of the Digital City?
Urban/digital developments have cropped up on This Big City many times in the past. Remember Augmented Reality (or AR as the more Wired-inclined urbanists call it)? I once predicted a new AR concept would ‘revolutionise our interactions with the world’. A few years on and, in case you were wondering, there hasn’t been much AR-led world-revolutionising going on.
I’ve also been totally unapologetic about how I believe social media can improve the way we engage with our cities. Whether its the planning system, maintaining streets, or civic engagement, social media has obvious appeal to that portion of society who see older systems and stuffy and time-consuming. But what about those who don’t have the tools required to access these platforms? For every urban dweller with an iPhone glued to their palm there is another unable to afford this (supposed) gateway to better cities. And then there’s those who simply do not want to digitally engage with their cities. What do these people do when bus times are being sent to people via apps rather than the bus stop?
One thing is for sure – digital technologies aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. That’s why we’ve decided to discuss the future of the Digital City during our next #citytalk tweetchat. I’ll be hosting the discussion on Twitter with Rashiq Fataar of Future Cape Town, and we’ll be sharing the question-asking responsibilities with our special guest Christine McLaren from BMW Guggenheim Lab. We encourage you, via this digital platform, to come share your thoughts (on another digital platform).
Our next #citytalk – The Future of the Digital City – happens on Twitter at 7PM BST/8PM CET/2PM EDT this Thursday June 28th. Use the #citytalk hashtag to join in, and read more about how it all works right here.