I just want to pose a question: if colocation is important for more efficient working, and feeds innovation in business practices, does the style of planning matter?
The reason I ask is this: An article came across twitter this morning (@planetizen) about Cisco's new "cities in a box." Cisco is building its first 'build-it-and-they-will-come-smart-city' in South Korea. The concept smacks of China's empty cities, modeled on sprawling US suburbia. The Chinese and the Indians too, are expected to be big customers.
Again, read the entire article here.
For a project with @WorkSnug's @leylandrichard, I've been talking a lot with city planner types, and work specialists. Several of them have mentioned to me that "the Chinese" are repeating our recently realized mistakes in city planning-- sprawl, spacial use separation, car orientated, campus high rises. The consensus is that colocation is vital for working: within a sector, when workers are colocated, they are more efficient and innovative; but workers today have many identities, so they need to be able to easily colocate with all of the communities they participate in. I've been pointed at the work of Jane Jacobs who thought cities should grow organically, because when they do, it leads to greater dynamism for the local economy.
Last weekend I was at a conference on climate adaptation planning for city mayors where several smart things were said about community-based participation in economic development and climate adaptation: the tautology that communities should be implementors of policy is not enough, communities must be initiators as well. Climate adaptation in developing countries will have a strong city planning component.
Sure, we will need 'smart-cities' and bravo to Cisco for their technological expertise. But will these uber-planned 'cities in a box' allow emerging markets to develop the dynamic economies they need to provide for the economic well-being of their people? Put another way, will these cities make space for creativity, innovation, and all those other dynamic economy buzz words? Will people really live in these cities-- sure people may come and try them out, but what's the staying power? If there's one thing we've learned from web 2.0, it's that content is best when it's user-adaptable.
These cities leave me with a funny feeling. How about you?