Abolish the private automobile from the urban core (or significantly built-up areas) and redirect the current investment in private capital that automobiles represent to investment in public transportation and redevelopment of former streets, parking lots, and the like into housing, parks and urban agriculture.
Completely rethink our definition of “the city” and begin to plan accordingly. We need to see cities as complete human ecosystems and recognize that the complementary (and arguably more important) productive component of the urban human ecosystem is its resource hinterland, an area typically hundreds of times larger than the city itself and increasingly scattered all over the planet. In short, the city’s true “ecological footprint” dwarfs the tiny, consumptive urban center. The big footprint is essential for the survival of the urban core and yet is typically ignored or taken for granted.
—William Rees, professor at the University of British Columbia and originator of the “ecological footprint” concept, which measures human demand on ecosystems
The policies and planning practices of “smart growth” would create and encourage sustainable places. This approach to combating sprawl is about encouraging new development of housing and jobs to locate in and around the urban core. For example, in Maryland former governor Parris Glendening spearheaded the state’s landmark smart-growth legislation in 1997. The state law creates “priority-funding areas” that dictate where public funding of new infrastructure (that is, roads, sewers, social services) will be allocated. These areas are located near big cities, which encourages new development—and even redevelopment—near our urban centers and saves green fields and farms on the urban fringe from development.
—Thomas Vicino, professor at Northeastern University and co-author of Cities and Suburbs: New Metropolitan Realities in the US (Routledge, 2010)
For as long as we have had cities, we have had inequity in access to social and environmental resources among urban citizens. Cities cannot be more livable nor support sustainability without policies that work on both unsustainable overconsumption in the city and unlivable social divides among groups. This is not an impossible innovation—just a difficult one and one we have never tried.
—Carolyn Stephens, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and National University of Tucumán, Argentina
The Internet of Things
We need more smarts. Cities, in their next generation, will become more highly embedded with intelligence via computing and thus with information, responsive capability and, ultimately, agency. Some of this transformation is already visible—“the Internet of things” will make it possible to query our surroundings the way we search the Web; citizen sensing through smartphones creates geo-coded, real-time, cheap and useful data. Beyond the near term, the possibility of a city that is significantly smarter could help us manage many aspects of daily life and could be customized to our preferences and routines. The key will be to design this new urban intelligence to create a better city and with enough transparency so that our privacy is protected and opting out is easy.
—Dana Cuff, director of cityLAB and professor of architecture and urban design at the University of California, Los Angeles, and author of The Provisional City: Los Angeles Stories of Architecture and Urbanism (MIT Press, 2002)
I envision an interconnecting grid of futuristic cities strategically placed around the continent. The main purpose and design of these cities is such that they utilize their natural surroundings, wind, hydro, solar, geothermal and bio, to power themselves and provide a neighboring city with excess power or necessary power.