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Sustainable urban development is a new way of thinking for American cities. Technology is emerging to help planners, architects and residents make the transition — and address the converging pressures of rapid growth and decaying infrastructure. The question isn’t whether to use technology to make cities more sustainable, it’s how best to use it. Three experts on sustainably built cities discuss the answers with Denis Du Bois.
This program was first aired in September, 2011.
Earth reached an important tipping point several years ago: More than half of Humans now live in cities. In some ways that’s a good thing: Cities are a very efficient way for us to live. But mass urbanization also has its downside. It puts tremendous strain on city infrastructures that were pretty old, to begin with. It could take investments in infrastructure of $180 billion a year or more, just to keep up.
Meanwhile there’s pressure to make cities more sustainable. If a city wants to attract residents and businesses, its infrastructure has to do much more than just keep up. It has to improve on the status quo — to enable the clean industries and green lifestyles of the 21st century.
The idea of a sustainable city is moving gradually from theoretical to practical. But it needs to happen faster. Part of the solution is technology. It enables us to imagine and model our urban environments and shape how they’ll support the needs of the people who live within. Technology let us “see” proposed memorials at Ground Zero in New York City, and “drive” a new approach to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, long before they were constructed.
Our guests for this program are Emma Stewart, James Moore and Terry Bennett. These experts discuss the need for sustainable cities and the role of technology in creating them.