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Outlining Blueprints for the ‘Digital City’ of the Future

What does the future hold for our cities?

Previous centuries saw industrial infrastructure (such as rail, highways, and telephone lines) paving the way for new cities – and for a host of new connections. Now, change is being driven by a global “network of networks” that is making it possible for everything to become connected to everything else. In 2001, about 300 million devices—computers, cell phones, PDAs—were connected. By 2010, this web of invisible connections had expanded to include everything from cars and lights to buildings and security cameras.

We are now in the process of building the “Next Internet”—one where the experience is increasingly mobile and global in scale:

  • In addition to data transport, the next Internet must be built as a Media Experience Platform.” The network must have the intelligence to deliver rich media experiences (for example, the ability to detect real-time network traffic conditions and to format video to best match the characteristics of each and every end users device).
  • The transformation is underway as we move from a messaging to a collaboration platform. This means providing the platform for real-time collaboration across boundaries and firewalls to enable intercompany interactions, which are highly secure. We need to take social networking innovations and make them enterprise-class.
  • Third, an evolution is under way from pure price/performance to a broader focus on sustainability. Price/performance is still critical, but going forward, we know that the trick will be expand our approach in order to address the core issue of sustainability—and the Next Internet will play a key role in that global effort.

The key question is very simple: How can advanced ICT become an engine for sustainable economic development and job creation in cities across the globe

Leaders from multiple sectors—public, private, and independent—are now actively exploring new collaboration models that harness the power of fast and efficient ICT, including social media, to accelerate the economic development of urban communities. This will undoubtedly be a major topic of discussion at this week’s Meeting of the Minds conference in San Francisco (October 9-11). What will it truly take for our key institutions—government, business, education, and others—to accelerate the transitions?

One real-world example of a city experimenting with its future is Kansas City, Kansas, the first recipient of Google’s Community Fiber Award, which is an integral part of Google’s Fiber for Communities Program. While announcing the award, Google mentioned two key factors that helped it select Kansas City from among 1,000 applying cities: (1) the willingness of the local utility to participate as a collaborative stakeholder, and (2) the willingness of the city’s mayor and local stakeholders to participate in an intensive, collaborative community process.

More than ever before, we’re hearing from CXOs that they need a clear vision, one that clearly defines what a “digital citywill truly look like. That vision must be one in which politicians, city workers, businesses, and residents alike are empowered to succeed as they strive to reach new levels of economic, social, and cultural development. A digital city empowered by alignment of community collaboration and infrastructure is going to be a powerful platform for “the new economy,” and that future will be one in which by urban innovation and economic growth go hand-in-hand.

Join Meeting of the Minds by webcast! Click here for a complete description of the sessions, which includes Carolein Gehrels, Amsterdam’s Deputy Mayor, who has some truly amazing stories to tell, including one that our team captured in an impressive case study; and Manel Sanromà, the CIO of Barcelona City Council, who’s helping to shape the future of City Protocol. And, don’t forget to join the conversation: follow MOTM on Twitter and share your thoughts by using hashtag #motm2012.

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2 Comments.


  1. October 18, 2012 at 7:02 am

    …Yes, indeed we are in the process of building the next Internet generation, that I am sure it will envision the integration of more efficient technologies to come…thanks for this good information, links, and white papers, that helps us, as Instructors, to enhance our class discussions and presentations…my respects and regards from Puerto Rico…

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