Chapter 2. Our Changing Cities

Rapid Technology Shifts

There is an urgent need for design and technology to again collaborate on civic challenges. Changes in the form of smart connected objects, services, and platforms have the potential to disrupt how our cities function as well as our individual experiences within them. Buildings, networks, city services, and our own personal devices are being connected to complex software platforms that can analyze and inform decision making. The data gathered through these channels has the potential to influence everything from government policy to the management of daily city services. Ubiquitous connectivity is helping to shape a vision of the responsive city, or a future in which technology will improve a city’s infrastructure, management, and quality of life.

This is not just a grand vision for future cities—platforms in our cities now promote direct and indirect civic interactions. A clear example of a direct civic interaction facilitated by technology is our Talking Transition project for the 2013 transition to a new city government administration. We helped build a technology platform to get a daily pulse of public concerns and better facilitate direct interactions between government and citizens. By arming street teams with digital tools to capture information and interviews from New Yorkers over a two-week period, we changed the topic of conversation each day to capture qualitative and quantitative information about the perspective ...

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