Green Design 

Design a green city course

urban networks rethinking the city isour research paper providing in-depthanalysis on the current urbantransformation taking place around theworld and solutions to key challengespresented by this mass urbanization inthis video we provide an overview to thecontents of the paper the data onurbanization is in and it clearlyreveals that we are currently engaged inan intense process of transforming theenvironment within which humanity livesover the course of a century from 1950to 2050 we are transforming ourenvironment from a natural rural habitatto an engineered urban environment as wemove from an urban population of justthirty percent to one of as much asseventy percent this is a process ofhuge transformation disruption anddevelopment a process the bulk of whichwill largely be over within a fewdecades from now but how that processplays out is of critical importance tothe future success of the global economysociety and environmentwe are living at a time where inprinciple we could as never before inhistory improve the quality of life forthe majority of people around the planetbut the challenges of realizing this areimmense and the perils of fast-pacedmass urbanization are becoming ever moreapparent achieving sustainable solutionswithin our urban environment is both ahuge challenge as it is systemicinherently complex and multi-dimensionalbut at the same time it offers hugeleverage in our capacity to shape ourfuture environment at a scale and speednever seen beforebut the challenge of urbanism today isnot just one of scale speed and scarcityof resources but with globalizationadvances in technology and environmentaldegradation the equation has got greatlymore complex in just the past decadesnecessitating a paradigm shift in ourthinking and systemic responsesthe scale and demands of the processthat is underway far outstrip theresources and capacities of the modeland structures that are currently beingapplied to respond to itincremental approaches based ontraditional ways of thinking and actingwill be limited in capacity within thisnew contextthe current model for urban developmentwe inherit from the Industrial Age it isone that is based around the mechanicsof centralization and batch processingto achieve economies of scale masssocieties require the mass provisioningof services and we achieve this scale bybreaking the system down into discretecomponents separating them intodifferent functions and concentratingsimilar functions within centralizedlocations in order to reduce unit coststhrough mass production housing in oneplace education in another office isconcentrated in business districtsproduction in industrial zones etc wethen connect them all typically viapersonal transport this centralizationof functional domains enablesStandardization batch processing andreduces the unit cost of serviceprovision however this centralized modelhas limitationsmost notable among these is itslimitation of scale centralizedhierarchical structures have both anupper and lower limit to their effectiveoperations what is called the Koshienceiling and Koshien floor below acertain scale there are too fewresources for it to be economic todevelop formal centralized systems theresult is the development of poorlyorganized informal systems above acertain scale the system becomesoverloaded because of the bottleneckscreated by centralizing resources theresult is congestion and fracturingcreating diminishing returns with theongoing developments of globalization weare currently in the process of tryingto scale our economy from providing forthe approximately 1.2 billion people indeveloped countries to the other 6.3billion people on the planet this is ahuge scaling up process currently takingplace as cities are becoming mega citiesinfrastructure projects are becomingmega projects and national economies arebecoming integrated into a globaleconomy as a result we are increasinglymoving outside of the functional parameters of thecentralized model along many dimensionswith the ensuing combination of bothparalysis and informality within urbansystems we build centralized urbansystems people come and then they getoverloaded the result is they slowlygrind to a halt while also spreading outcentralized national governments areoverloaded and underfunded mega projectsgo over time and over budget mega citiesbecome congested and breed informalnetworksthe critical structural change thatneeds to come about in this respect isexpanding the effective operationalrange of the model so that it ispossible to provide organization alongthe whole spectrum not simply cover asmall bandwidth in the middle this isdone through decentralization switchingto a distributed model first instead ofalways moving towards the defaultposition of a centralized solutionshifting the paradigm to thinkingdistributed systems first and this isnow made possible by advances intechnology distributed systems involvepeer-to-peer interactions this removesthe centralized bottlenecks that createthe upper limits and they are able toprovide organization at a much lowercost thus removing the lower limits thismakes them potentially capable ofscaling along the full spectrum toprovide organization at all levelsinformation technology is the criticalenabler of these distributed systemswhereas previously we had to use thecentralized model to achieve thecritical mass required informationtechnology now provides the means forovercoming this constraint IT enablesthe connectivity and automatedcoordination required for aggregatingthe small distributed contributions ofmany and coordinating them to deliversolutions at scale on demand thispotential is realized through thedevelopment of online platforms ofcoordinationjust as the industrial age had astandardized set of solutions foreverything from providing energy totransport to education and housing whichwas based around centralized formalclosed systems so to the Information Agehas its own core architecture and set ofsolutions but these are based aroundopen networks of coordination throughinformation this means switching fromthe provisioning of urban services by alimited number of closed formalorganizations and instead building openplatforms which anyone can plug into anddeliver services thus instead ofbuilding more centralized solutionslarge centralized projects for morehighways power plants office blocks moreparking space we ask first how can wepush the resources and capabilities outto the edges of the network and thenbuild platforms for aggregating them toachieve scale as requiredinstead of building another power planthow can we enable people to create theirown electricity through distributedgeneration building a smart gridplatform for exchange instead of anotherhighway how can we build a platform thatconnects people for them to exchangetransport services on-demandpeer-to-peer instead of moresupermarkets how can we leverage thedistributed technology of grow systemsand food platforms and the list goes onwe are trying to shift the emphasistowards modular scalable solutions withvery low thresholds to entry so that wecan harness all of the distributedresources of the end users in the systemtoward them providing their own servicespeer-to-peer instead of large monolithicstructures imposed as aone-size-fits-all the emphasis shifts toasking how can we create small verybasic modular building blocks thatpeople can then build upon and plugtogether to achieve those largestructures in an evolutionary processover time with the platform model theemphasis switches to working withpeople's inherent drives and interestsand the challenge becomes one ofaligning their incentives with that ofthe whole platforms create optimaloutcomes and value by connecting peopleproviding them with information so thatthey can coordinate and achieve optimalresults without those outcomes beingpre-specified these platforms areessentially markets for enablingeveryone to be a potential producer ofvalue and exchange that directlypeer-to-peerthe ultimate aim of user-generatedsystems is to harness all the resourcesavailable in the community this does notjust mean as many people as possible butalso harnessing their engagement alongas many dimensions as possible thisrequires that we recognize all of thevalue within the system every dimensionto an urban environment that contributestowards creating a functional livingspace natural capital economic capitalsocial capital and cultural capital thefunction of the platform is to providethe information resources for people torecognize and develop this multiplicityof value sources that help to make thecommunity a functional one all of theactivities that contribute or depletefrom the resources in the urbanenvironment are identified on theplatform and people are given thecapacities to create and exchange thatvalue already we have experimented withsocial networking as one technology thatcan enable this people care hugely abouttheir social capital their connectionswith others and this can be harnessed tocreate pro-social behavior contributingsignificant resources to a community butgoing forward blockchain token systemswill increasingly be available to manageand grow any resource within a communityenabling individuals to provide servicesof all kind within distributed tokenmarketsthe shift from the industrial model tothe Information model is a shift fromphysical mass to organization throughinformation networks from deliveringsolutions by creating more things todelivering solutions through moreeffective organization this requires usto shift our analysis from the componentparts of the city to looking at thewhole urban system seeing the city as anintegrated urban system and focusing notso much on optimizing individualcomponents but rather the interactionwithin the entire city as an ecosystemin this view the city is an ecosystem ofmany different interacting parts and weare asking how we can use informationbased platforms to identify those partsand try to build positive synergieswhile reducing negative synergies theidea that we can focus on specific areasto optimize for a single outcome has itslimitationsseeing the urban system as an equationof simply optimizing for all of thecomponents results in sub optimaloverall outcomes as it reduces thesynergies between components everycomponent in the urban system should beassessed along all value dimensions thatit is adding or depleting from and howthat system interrelates with othercomponents to create positive ornegative synergieswhen we start to bring a full valueapproach to urban developmentmono-functional systems come to be seenas sub optimal compared to systems thatcan deliver a multiplicity of valuesources in an integrated fashion abillboard that also works as a seat forpeople to sit on a building roof thatworks as a garden space an old traintrack that has revamped as a joggingarea an exhibition space for sculpturesa wall that can house plants on it apathway that can capture runoff watercities that tell stories in theirarchitecture houses that double asoffices roads built out of plastic wasteetcthis enables a multiplicity of processesto take place within the same locationthus removing the need to create a wholededicated area for them it works tointegrate areas and create neighborhoodsremoving people's dependency on going tospecific centralized locations forcertain activities when you conduct afull value analysis these kinds ofthings start to come to the forefrontand change the equation under whichdecisions get madein the challenge of city density is alsothe opportunity for creatingmultifunctional systems where differentprocesses work to fuel each other urbanenvironments can be self-sustainingsystems but this requires local feedbackloops between the different componentsso that they can adapt to each other andcreate positive synergies when weseparate things we remove thepossibility for synergies and the valuethis adds we get a dead-end effect within linear processes that create wasteinformation is the means through whichwe can create synergistic urbanenvironments in that it enables peopletechnology and systems to adapt to eachother's behavior and self-organizedwithout need for centralizedcoordination in the world of distributedplatforms patterns of order emergedthrough the process of self-organizationthe emphasis shifts to designingfeedback loops that create positivesynergies and the emergence of thrivingurban ecosystems that are resilientthrough their multidimensionalitythe information revolution enables a newform of services economy allowing us toreconsider vus the world of connectivitywe are moving into shifts us away fromthe economies of scale throughcentralization and towards economies ofreusability through the connectivitythat networks enable the engine of theindustrial model was centralization toachieve economies of scale which meantthat everyone could have their ownrefrigerator TV car house etc the resultwas a mass consumer society but theengine of the Information Age is rapiditeration and duplication at zeromarginal cost when one person can createa file and at the click of a buttonduplicated many times and send it tomillions of people around the planet andvirtually zero cost with those peoplethen reusing it and duplicating it againat no extra cost then the value is inthis reusabilityin order to harness this capacity thoughwe have to turn physical systems intoservices by giving them an informationlayer that makes them capable ofconnecting into networks and offeringtheir usage as a service instead ofbuilding a holding system from theground up each time we define existingresources as services and then buildnetworks for aggregating those resourcesaround the end users needs servicesystems integrate many differentcomponents and coordinate them intoseamless processes built around the enduser for example instead of payingseparately for fuel insurance carparking space etc users can purchaseintegrated mobility services from aprovider who works to bring thosedifferent parts together around theirspecific needsthis service-oriented architecture tourban development is optimized for usergenerated systems and the on-demandsharing of resources people just have tomake whatever resource they haveavailable as a service via an onlineplatform organizations can then buildnetworks that combine those resourcesinto a finished service system that theend user accesses typically via a mobiledeviceas the complexity of our technologyinfrastructure and engineeredenvironment unfolds there needs to be acounter balancing force of integrationfor the end-user or else theirexperiences become too fractured andcomplicated and this is what servicesystems offer as they integratedifferent components around the userthrough the use of informationtechnology stitching parts together andadapting them to the specific needs ofthe citizensurface systems engender a wholedifferent paradigm and how we developand deliver solutions most of all theyrequire a relentless focus on outcomesand asking what is needed by the enduser the end requirement of a city is ahigh quality of life for its citizens wecan then work backward from this askingwhat existing components need to bebrought together so as to deliver thatservice this is a shift from a pushmodel of pushing out solutions to a pollmodel where we first gain a deepunderstanding of the needs and then pulltogether the resources so as to deliverthe service requiredin an age of information and theservices economy our urban environmentsno longer need to be inert monolithicstructures with one size fitting Hallthe city can be formalized as a serviceenabling us to shift from the model ofmass to the model of innovation fromcompetition over scarce centralizedinfrastructure systems to collaborationaround delivering measurable outcomesthrough reusable plug-and-play modularcomponents everything that is a value inthe urban system serves some functionand thus delivers a service by thinkinginnovation first and focusing thatrelentlessly on the issue at hand we canconceptualize the urban environment as aservice and shift from producing moreconcrete and steel structures to reallydelivering outcomes and quality of lifethe urban environments that weengineered during the 20th century werefundamentally static in their naturethese infrastructure systems weredesigned for stable and predictableenvironments they operate within awell-defined normal set of parametersand resist changethis makes them inert non-responsive anddegenerative over time we build anapartment block once and then it goesthrough a linear life cycle degradingevery yeartoday the combination of a changingnatural environment and newpossibilities enabled by IT means thatwe need to switch the focus towardsadaptive systems that are able torespond to changes within theirenvironmentthe application of informationtechnology to the urban environment iscreating the smart City but we have toask how smart is to the city is it justtransferring smartness from citizens toalgorithms and technology smartnessshould not be just about technology itis about making every aspect of theurban system adaptive and responsivetrue adaptive capacity in our urbanenvironment would be about thingsinteracting with each other peer-to-peerso that they can self-organize to findoptimal outcomes too often we use IT forquite the opposite aggregating data intolarge data centers processing itaccording to black box algorithms andpushing it out to determine theoperations of the city and its citizenswithout them even being aware of it theultimate result of this is in many waysa city that is less adaptive and morealienating the best cities are not themost efficient ones they are cities thatare dynamic with well-designedresponsive interaction between peopletechnology and ecosystem for the smartcity revolution to be somethingsustainable the smartness needs to beapplied in a holistic way infused intoevery aspect of the citythis means data and information beingexchanged and processed by computers inorder to optimize systems dynamicallybut it also means ideas and knowledge tomake the city something that engagespeople in thinking and responding totheir environment making them more awareand responsive to what is happeningaround them smart cities should makepeople smarter they should be platformsthat enable people to create their ownways of life and not just determinetheir actions according to whatalgorithm determines is most efficienttechnology we have the capacity to makeevery aspect of the city adaptive andresponsive but going from a model thatis inherently static to one that isinherently dynamic will in turn requirea change in basic urban design key toachieving this will be shifting towardsan event-driven architecture for allaspects of the urban environmentevent-driven architecture is very wellsuited to the loosely coupled structureof urban systems as it does not requirethat we define a well bounded system ofwhich components are either a part of ornot instead components can remainautonomous being capable of coupling anddecoupling into different networks inresponse to different events thuscomponents can be used and reused bymany different networks this enablesgreater diversity adaptability andresponsiveness event-driven architecturegoes hand-in-hand with the platform usergenerated services model in that it is adesign approach where components respondto events over time so that modularparts can be pulled together intoservices to meet the end-users needs atthe right place and right time in thecoming decade we will see thedevelopment and convergence of theInternet of Things with blockchainplatforms with major implications forthe urban environment with IOT thesensing and communications betweendevices and technologies will bepervasive and when this is coupled withblockchain technology it canautomatically manage the sharing ofthose resources to build on demandautomated service systemswhen all of these architectural patternsare applied to the development of urbansystems in a holistic way it truly is aparadigm shift away from the staticcentralized monolithic masscompartmentalized urban structures thatwe know so well towards the adaptiveevent-driven decentralized modularuser-generated networked urbanenvironment which would provide theunderlying structure to remove currentstumbling blocks and enable us to movein the direction of a more sustainableprocess of Urban Development to digdeeper into the current rise of urbannetworks the challenges andopportunities this presents you candownload the full paper by clicking thelink below

How might we design a green city in a decentralized world?

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