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Movement – Interview with Bill Mitchell on ‘smarter’ cities

Posted in Models, Movements, Research by fedwards on April 30th, 2007

An interview with Bill Mitchell, head of the Smart Cities research group from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was recently published by The University of Melbourne Voice, Vol. 1, No. 4, 30 April – 14 May, 2007. Professor Bill Mitchell commenced his studies at the University of Melbourne in architecture and is now researching new technologies to enhance urban design and transport systems in his Smart Cities project. An excerpt of his discussion with David Scott, journalist from the Voice, is reproduced below.

Q Your work focuses a lot on ‘Smart Cities’ and the smart use of space.
But aren’t our cities already pretty smart and still evolving?

A Well, no they are pretty dumb and they need to be a lot smarter. It’s worth putting this into a broad historical context. Early cities before the industrial revolution were essentially skeleton and skin. They provided shelter, they held up the floors and kept you protected, but there wasn’t much more to them than that. Then the industrial revolution came along and the cities got artificial physiologies – water supply systems, sewer systems, gas systems, electrical systems.

What’s happening now is that cities are also evolving nervous systems. It began in the 19th century with telegraph systems, which became telephone and wireless systems. Then along came digital networking and the implementation of the world wide web, and now we’re moving into an era of really ubiquitous networking and telecommunications, where there is intelligence embedded everywhere and everything’s connected. And this enables cities to operate in a much more coordinated and intelligent fashion, just like living organisms.

For the full interview, please visit The University of Melbourne Voice.

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