Study: City Planners Unprepared for Future

The U.S.'s major urban centers have a long way to go when it comes to technology, according to a recent report.

by / November 29, 2012

According to the United Nations, the world's population is expected to grow to as many as 11 billion people by 2050 -- more than half of those people will reside in cities versus the countryside.

To properly support rapidly-growing, densely-populated urban areas, technological advancement will be paramount, according to a recent editorial in InformationWeek, whose Future Cities Survey found that the U.S.'s major urban centers have a long way to go when it comes to technology.

In the context of preparing for future population growth, only 7 percent of the 198 municipal IT professionals surveyed from major U.S. cities reported their city IT strategy as “progressive and well conceived.” Conversely, 38 percent of those surveyed described their city's IT plan as “poor or nonexistent.”

Cities of the future, according to the editorial, will need an interconnected and sophisticated infrastructure that includes the city's buildings, roadways, rail systems, electric grid and water facilities to effectively serve the populace. The most prominent obstacle cited by survey takers was money, with 88 percent citing lack of funding as the primary obstacle to technological progress in their city.

And mayors and other city officials need private-sector help to advance. According to the survey, 66 percent of respondents cited public-private collaboration as what should lead Future Cities efforts. Improving K-12 education, expanding access to wireless and broadband networks and ensuring the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure were listed as most promising areas for such collaboration.

Conceiving a smarter city that is prepared for unrelenting population growth will be a matter of developing many different technologies in parallel, according to the editorial. Communications infrastructure, mobile device support, transportation systems, public safety and crime prevention investments, and surveillance technology all play a role in the future of large urban areas.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock