Archive for May, 2009

Pondering visionary Jane Jacobs and Intelligent Communities

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

Jane Jacobs had it right when she wrote her ground breaking 1961 book The Death and Life of Great American Cities. She lamented the many failed attempts at city planning by a host of planners from Ebenezer Howard and his English Garden Cities in the late 19th century through Le Corbusier’s Radiant Cities in the 1920’s.  Concepts from both of these planners and their many disciples continued through much of the 20th century.

Jacobs’ primary concern was that cities are really living organisms and cannot be modeled or planned in just one or two dimensions, particularly from just an architectural or physical layout perspective.  I was struck by the correctness of her ideas when I compared many world cities to Dubai while visiting there to give a speech last November. My Dubai observations and feedback from friends and relatives who live there is that iconic architecture is interesting but it alone does not create a livable, “comfortable” city with practical neighborhoods. Much more is required.

The issue is how to plan for the complete community, particularly with our new opportunities for “e-everything” including new forms of virtual collaboration and benefits from e-health and other social applications made possible by new ultra broadband infrastructures.

Later this week I am speaking in New York at the annual conference of the Intelligent Community Forum, where the Intelligent Community of the Year will also be announced from a list of the Final 7 that was selected in March.  Previous winners include Gangnam, South Korea, Taipei, Glasgow, Singapore and Waterloo, home of the Blackberry® in Canada.  At the ICF conference I will present  “i-COA®”, the Intelligent Community Open Architecture five layer model that I hope will provide a framework for all to use and develop as they move forward with their city planning.  Like the OSI Seven Layer Model for Telecommunications i-COA should evolve into a useful planning framework that would be approved by Jane Jacobs and others concerned with the need for an integrated approach to creating the 21st century intelligent cities of the future. I will describe i-COA in more detail in my next blog update.