How technology can help us redesign our cities – and lives (maybe?)

From a series in The Gaurdian on the Future of Urban Living another futurist hopeful on how technology could shape our lives for the better in the future with a caveat at least on how the current capitalist paradigm needs to change – for myself I am more skeptical than ever that we know what is in our best interests – with all the research and all the technology in the world – we don’t seem to able to control much in our own little lives – let alone  at a whole city level – as reputedly said by John Lennon  ” life is what happens while your were making other plans” still, no doubt, we will be salivating over the latest techno-wonders while bemoaning their lack of bandwidth and reliability – no matter who made them or how fat they are – they are always too slow and always …….

From analysing our urban spaces to ensure they encourage social cohesion, to connecting household appliances to the internet to regulate our energy needs, technological developments promise an exciting future for city living

Local teenagers in front of burnt out buildings on Tottenham High Road

Local teenagers pause in front of part-demolished buildings on Tottenham High Road after the London riots in August 2011. Photograph: Jason Alden/Rex Features

The riots that erupted across the UK in August 2011 caused devastation in many areas, but could they have been tackled earlier or even avoided through the use of advanced urban planning?

Work being done by consultants Space Syntax, who use computer-modelling to consider the spaces between buildings in the design of urban places, shows how technology can help us to understand the way we live and work in cities and how we interact with our surroundings.

Ed Parham, Space Syntax’s associate director, says: “By analysing how areas are connected, you can find patterns of accessibility.” The modelling technique, known as spatial networks, examines how streets and communities function in relation to each other. It builds on research being carried out in the slums of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia where Space Syntax discovered that a deprived area can become connected to surrounding communities and potential new markets by simply removing a small number of key buildings.

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