Cities as Organisms


Barcelona is seen from the air in the daylight (above). Barcelona had an innovative vision for digitizing their city. Urban leaders gathered data on what caused people to leave the city and why jobs were lost. Cleanliness, safety, reliable transportation and urban services emerged as issues that mattered in citizens’ experiences of their city. People wanted an easier way to navigate through the city and better connection across systems, more intelligence and sensory capacity to recognize what was needed in each location. For example, garbage cans were connected with sensors so that vendors could pick up garbage where needed, saving money for other city services, access to reservation-based parking services, video surveillance and smart lighting where crime rates were high. These services were smarter and not extremely costly and improved the city life. People come to cities because they want jobs, education and healthcare. Cities with outstanding educational systems attract talent, which attracts companies that want to hire that talent.

The aerial night photos of London and Paris by night (below) convey a clear impression that a well-planned city has both the signature of structure and the potential for spontaneity. Like any organism, there are both constraints and serendipity.

Paris-ISS-aerial-nightThe aerial signatures differ as much as cities themselves differ.

Zann Gill proposed for the city of Kawasaki, Japan, which held a competition seeking ideas for how to become a model “information city of the 21st century,” that Kawasaki could foster its internal potential for organic  evolution by establishing an innovation network composed of either existing or, where needed, new autonomous components. For Kawasaki she proposed establishing sixteen collaboratively autonomous components to enlist participation of different segments of the population. More. . .


The aerial image of Mogadishu in Somalia would not be confused with London.

Dubai, though with a long history, has radically transformed over the last fifty years, and provides a useful case study of an urban solution for very hot temperatures. Dubai temperatures today range from around 90 degrees F. in January to 120+ degrees F. in July.

Dubai combines the unique quality of the traditional city with extensive planning and new architecture, designed to look like a tribal artwork from the air. Dubai is situated on the Persian Gulf coast of the United Arab Emirates and is roughly at sea level (16m or 52ft above). Marine life off the Dubai coast includes tropical fish, jellyfish, coral, dugong, dolphins, whales, sharks, and various types of turtles, including the hawksbill turtle and green turtle (endangered species). The emirate of Dubai shares borders with Abu Dhabi in the south. Dubai lies in the Arabian Desert, home to the houbara bustard, striped hyena, caracal, desert fox, falcon and Arabian oryx. Its topography differs from that of the southern portion of the UAE. Much of Dubai’s landscape is highlighted by sandy desert patterns, and gravel deserts dominate much of the southern region of the country. A vast sea of sand dunes covers much of southern Dubai and eventually leads into the desert known as The Empty Quarter.

Related topics:

earthDECKS as the neXt game 

       Emerging meta•Discipline: Collaborative Intelligence (CIQ)
Design, Synthesis & Collaborative Intelligence

       Tragedy of the Commons & Collaborative Intelligence


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