The public realm in any city abounds with streets, lanes, parks and public squares, but also public facilities such as the public lobbies and spaces that anyone from the public are able to legally access. It can also include areas below ground where the public may access public areas under streets and buildings, spaces below bridges and even the airspace above these public spaces. The public realm arguably also includes public vistas, namely what the public can see from a distance. As we expand our thinking about what should be considered the public realm in our villages, towns and cities, we should also expand it to include what we can’t necessarily see, but increasingly experience: the impact of broadband wireless services in public spaces and how it contributes to the sense of place in our communities.Read more
Much of the discussion about economic growth and the availability of broadband assumes there is a vast gulf between rural and urban areas. I’ve written before about how, in some ways, trends in this century seem to be leading to something of a convergence of rural and urban areas.
So I thought it especially interesting that the NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association yesterday hosted a policy meeting in the US Capitol that was titled: “Beyond Rural Walls: Identifying Impacts and Interdependencies Among Rural and Urban Spaces”.Read more
Life in the broadband economy can be a real killer.
No, I am not talking about the horrific ISIL attack on Paris, despite the online propaganda skills of that 12th Century band of cutthroats. Instead, I am referring to an insight brought to us by two Princeton economists, Ann Case and Nobel prizewinner Angus Deaton.Read more
In the lexicon of planners and developers “Smart Parks” are usually reserved for new forms of industrial and business parks that provide high speed broadband to their end-users as the new form of utility. Of course many offer additional benefits to be part of this special tenant mix, from special LED lighting, guaranteed electric power, electric car charging posts, underground utilities, and gated security services. The physical environment might also include high-end data centers, incubators, accelerators and educational institutions in addition to the office environment that they normally offer. Some offer unique environmental applications such as green buildings, wind turbines, solar panels, vacuum-based waste disposal as well as collecting data via sensors to measure for system efficiencies, environmental readings and traffic flow. Some, such as the Eindhoven Tech Center in the Netherlands offer synergy centres where people gather in restaurants, gymnasiums, ad hoc meeting spaces and advanced digital libraries.Read more
Last week, the Intelligent Community Forum held its annual summit in Toronto. The underlying theme was “How Intelligent Communities Are Re-Inventing Urban and Rural Planning”, so much of the discussion was about re-invention and innovating.
In addition to the all-day workshops for large urban jurisdictions and smaller cities/towns/rural areas, all of Friday was devoted to Ideas Day – with a slew of presentations sharing novel approaches to local government and planning.Read more
The best part of this Intelligent Community “thing” for me is to see the patterns of the new energized community emerging. To do it, you have to learn to connect dots. After all, “Creativity,” as Steve Jobs said, “is just connecting the dots.”
The dots were linked again for me this past weekend in the Oceania galleries of New York’s Metropolitan Museum and in Mitchell, South Dakota. One of the happiest days of my life was nearly 35 years ago when I first became a member of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It made me feel as if I had totally joined the City of New York. All of it. I now had the privilege of walking into that majestic building on Fifth Avenue and roaming the world as I pleased, as my heart and mind dictated. I could be curious and learn endlessly (my idea of heaven). It was a thrill and, looking back, it was the deliverance of “quality of life” that Manhattan had always promised. This feeling has continued to make all the difference about whether I live here or somewhere else.Read more
The year 2008 was a good one for the Intelligent Community of Tallinn, Estonia. In recognition of the amazing efforts that vaulted the city from post-Soviet depression to “Baltic Tiger,” according to The New York Times, ICF added Tallinn to its list of the Top7 Intelligent Communities for the second year in a row.Read more
“In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice,” an aerospace engineer once said to me. “But in practice, I find that there often is.”
Those two short sentences sum up a lot of wisdom about the net neutrality debate.Read more
Castelo de Vide is an inland Portuguese city of 3,400 people that has suffered the fate of many small, rural communities. As young people left in search of opportunity, its population gradually shrank and its economic base eroded. Tourism based on its 500-year history became Castelo de Vide’s most important industry. To leverage it for a sustainable future, the city decided to re-connect its economy to the world. It developed a wireless broadband network to serve businesses, citizens and tourists and put its municipal IT “into the cloud” to reduce costs and expand capabilities.Read more
In the late Nineties, the telephone company in Malaysia, together with a Malaysian university and money from the Canadian government, created a pioneering Internet access project in the remotest highlands of Borneo. The residents of the village of Bario there received a computer, a generator and a satellite terminal, which connected them to the Web for the first time. The impacts were striking. Teachers used the Web to show their students the world beyond the Borneo jungle. Traditional medicine gained a helping hand from remote doctors. Bario is renowned in Malaysia for the sweet fragrance and taste of the rice it grows. Through the Web, farmers learned the true value of their crop, which gave them new bargaining power with local middlemen.Read more