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City planning in the technological age

Cities are growing every day and urban spaces have become more complex. Managing these huge urban spaces in our time has led to the demand for greater innovation and intelligence. Proposing solutions to all the problems in city planning is no longer viable within the timeframe in which they can be detected; putting forward solutions and implementing those solutions takes long enough for the initial problem to have already changed.

It is becoming a necessity for urban planning to embrace the technological advancements of the modern age. The benefits of such a blend would be a major step in urban planning. The idea of smart cities is no longer strange to the urban planner today. In fact, some cities such as Singapore and Dubai have become full functioning smart cities, with the internet integrating urban elements such as mobility to offer parking and traffic management, and even improve the flow of traffic from the city into the suburbs.

With such system advancements, the city design needs to provide for new services and infrastructure such as communication sensors, devices and databases which allow real time information relay on what is happening in the city. This information permits improvements in the structural services in the city, bringing efficiency and saving resources.

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The planner of the modern age also needs to factor in the need to plan for governance. With e-governance being a developing concept, the application of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for delivering government services is emphasized. Such technologies are aimed at improving services between Government-to-Citizens (G2C), Government-to-Business (G2B), and Government-to-Government (G2G) as well as back office processes and interactions within the entire government frame work (Jeong, 2007)[1].

Globalization has transformed cities from being the centre of activities to a channel or portal to the world’s web of activities. Thus a dire need for cities to be up to date on the global market needs, have advanced management of local resources, rapid value addition and a pivot towards new business models. ICT4D which is another 21st century concept, gains its frontier in encouraging the use of ICT as an enabler of development. At its root, national governments and local governments are mandated with the responsibility of providing services to the people by influencing economic development at the local level in a great way. This second concept is the implementation of new technologies in improving citizens’ quality of life by targeting economic growth and development.

With planning embracing new technologies, the result of this union would be a constant monitor on the population in a non-intrusive way to become familiar with their real problems. And if well implemented, this would lead to provision of low-cost solutions. The public would benefit from solutions that solve their problems, enhance their economic opportunities and generally improve their quality of life.

By James Wanyoike

Centre for Urban research and Innovations


1.      Paskaleva, K (25 January 2009). "Enabling the smart city: The progress of e-city governance in Europe". International Journal of Innovation and Regional Development

2.      A, Coe; Paquet, G. and Roy, J. (2001). "E-governance and smart communities: a social learning challenge". Social Science Computer Review

3.      Graham, S.; Marvin, S. (1996). Telecommunications and the city: electronic spaces, urban place. London: Routledge.

[1] Jeong Chun Hai @Ibrahim. (2007). Fundamental of Development Administration. Selangor: Scholar Press

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