More evidence today's urban planners are getting it wrong

Wed, 2013-09-25 06:00 -- Jesse Berst

I've always had an admiration for architects and urban planners. (I almost pursued a degree in the field.) But I continue to read complaints that today's practitioners are missing the boat. In particular, they are failing to bake smart technologies into their plans.

The latest criticism comes from Joichi Ito of the MIT Media Lab, as reported in a special section of the Japan Times. Ito says planners fail to understand that the new technologies make it possible to design an entirely new kind of city.

He complains, for instance, that "many modern cities have been designed under the assumption that cars are a necessity and almost require residents to own vehicles to get around." But that's not the right path going forward. "I don’t think that the urban planning and city design has reflected very well yet the changes in the technological landscape,” said Ito, 47, who along with working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is also on the boards of companies including Sony Corp. and The New York Times."

What's needed? Nothing less than a change in how architects and planners are trained. -- Jesse Berst

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Jesse Berst is the founding Chairman of the Smart Cities Council. Click to subscribe to SmartCitiesNow, the weekly newsletter highlighting smart city trends, technologies and techniques.