Monique Morrow

Chief Technology Strategist

The Future of Tomorrow, Today

January, 30 2017

Around the world, city populations are swelling. Existing infrastructure is crumbling under the weight. For a habitable future, we need ecologically sound cities, built with media-savvy and technologically-dependent populations in mind. Here are some groups that are doing just that, while also incorporating under-served communities.

Changing Places, a movement grown out of the MIT Media Lab, executes city-planning based on “dynamic, networked, self-regulating systems.” This means smart commuter systems, dynamic telecommunication infrastructure, and public-private partnerships on a mass-scale. Take a look at their electric bicycle or green transportation initiatives to see their utopia city.   

Poor cities with enormous populations cannot afford to radically upend their daily lives, even for positive change. Jonathan Hursh’s Utopia Cities offers a social enterprise solution for slums, where one in three people on Earth will soon be living. His movement seeks to turn slums into their own micro self-sustaining cities, built off existing patterns of life such as informal economies. These cities of the future will have localized infrastructure that suits their needs.

The above photo is the work of Terreform ONE - Mitchell Joachim’s architectural design group that makes biological and ecological principles the ethos of architecture. These sorts of solutions will help make the cities of the future environmentally sustainable.

When envisioning utopia cities, we have to remember to create systems accessible to all races, genders, classes, and creeds. For example, programs like DIY Girls, a Los-Angeles based makers movement enabling young girls to create, will be involved in utopia cities from the very beginning. Developed communities will learn from these successful initiatives targeted to underserved groups. I call this “reverse innovation.”

The last and perhaps most surprising element that needs to be involved in tech-savvy utopia cities is… libraries! Libraries are some of the most popular places for people to advance their technical skills, especially for older and less-privileged demographics. In the future, libraries will continue to be innovation hubs, especially for the young. Just like Chicago’s ultra popular Digital Youth Network.

Whether the library will have a vegetable garden on top and a planetarium attached will be up to you, citizen of a future city.