The move to make our future cities more intelligent began with an IT-enabled, systems-driven approach: creating efficiencies through digitizing information, optimizing traffic systems, and using data-driven dashboards to aid decision making. But now, we're beginning to use new technologies to support the entrepreneurial, the spontaneous, the creative, and the humane.
This is the rise of the socially driven smart city. Unlike the systems approach, which focuses on centralizing or increasing throughput, the socially driven smart city harnesses emerging technologies to support human goals. These are goals that might not have an obvious business proposition but that are vital to the sustainable growth of any urban area: fostering economic development, nurturing a creative class, designing places and spaces that delight, or engaging communities in their own reinvention. The driving force for this approach is coming from entrepreneurs, startups, hackers, nonprofits, artists, and urbanists. Whether they recognize it or not, these people are part of a growing class of "civic technologists" who are supporting the creation of the smart city (from the ground up).
Christine Outram is a Senior Inventionist at Deutsch LA and the founder of City Innovation Group, a global network of civic technologists. With a background in architecture, computing and design, her past projects have included: building an electric bike that senses air pollution while you ride; designing an augmented reality app that lets you ‘see’ when the next bus is coming; and working with the United Nations on harnessing big data for global development.
Prior to her current positions, Christine was a research associate at MIT’s SENSEable City Lab. She has two Masters degrees – A Master of Architecture from Sydney Australia, and a SMArchS from MIT. Online, she can be found @cityinnovation or blogging for UBM Future Cities.