Over the past few years there has been a growing awareness of the ways in which technology can help cities work more effectively and efficiently. One major initiative in this vein is IBM's Smarter Cities project/programme, which is all about being 'smart' as cities grow and grow and consume more of the world's resources.
Why IBM are doing this, the rationale behind it and the steps they are actually taking are on their website, but here's how they start explaining it all:
"In 1900, only 13% of the world's population lived in cities. By 2050, that number will have risen to 70%. We are adding the equivalent of seven New Yorks to the planet every year.
This unprecedented urbanisation is both a sign of our economic and societal progress and a strain on the planet's infrastructure. It's a challenge felt by mayors, heads of economic development, our schools, police chiefs and other leaders who each help to build and support the communities in which we live.
The challenges these leaders face — educating the young, keeping citizens safe and healthy, attracting and facilitating commerce, and enabling the smooth flow of planes, trains, cars and pedestrians — are compounded by the global economic downturn.
Thankfully, help is at hand. Around the world, intelligence is being infused into the way our cities work."
For more on the above, see the short pdf document...
I've just highlighted the UK section of the IBM Smarter Cities site here but it does refer to places across the globe and in the Case Study section you can see examples from Alameda, Queensland and Madrid, among other places. There's even a story about 'CovJam' - click the link to find out more and watch the video below!
The IBM site is certainly worth a look...
There is a special conference on this theme at MIT in April, called Forum on Future Cities, which is likely to be very interesting.