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How Can Technology Inform City Shaping?
July 27th, 2017

Last week we attended an eye-opening conference at the NLA, urban utopia feels closer than ever! In the words of Cedric Price, “technology is the answer but what was the question?” We know how tech can shape our city, the question is, will it?

Inefficient data collection is a huge barrier. In the past two years, we have produced more data than all history combined, yet a staggering level of this is not machine-readable. Yeonhwa Lee from Urban Intelligence urged professionals to stop “scrolling” and instead reach a “creative, contextual interpretation of data.”

It’s absurd that such outdated methods are informing our city’s future. Thankfully, companies like Urban Intelligence are harnessing machine-readable data, doing away with cryptic PDFs and dusty files!

Ender Ozkan from RWDI argued that “proactive planning rather than reactive planning” is crucial in managing the well-being of our population and environment. Energy Cities, TfL’s VR developments and street desirability calculations are progressive. But the room kept humming… ‘can this phenomenal tech make any real difference in isolation?’ If we want to positively influence urban planning, collaboration is key and decision-makers must take ownership.

Here at Bee London, we adapt to planning and economic by-products whilst striving to better connect the Midtown, Farringdon and Clerkenwell districts. For instance, we support on-demand business and personal delivery services, but multiple delivery vans congest and pollute. Solution? One van for area-wide deliveries. No wonder companies like Zip Car are blazing the trail for a sustainable sharing economy.

Smart cities expand efficiently and we’re looking at 10 million Londoners by 2030. If London’s going to breathe easy, this brittle planning process must flex. What we need is public sector ownership, efficient data collection and tech innovation working together. No easy feat, so a consolidated platform may be the answer.

Euan Mills from the Future Cities Catapult rounded off, “Do we want to live in a London that is Planned by Google or Facebook? – I don’t.”

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