Let’s start with the meaning of “urbanism.” According to IEREK, urbanism comes out of the field of urban planning. It is the study of how a population interacts with various components of an urban setting. How do people interact with buildings, transportation, shopping, and entertainment districts? What is the environment like and how well do ecosystems thrive in an urban setting?
One well-known urban planner is Peter Calthorpe. He made transit-oriented development a regular phrase bandied about by urban planners. Calthorpe is obsessed with the problem of urban sprawl. He looks to technology as being a realistic solution. Driverless autonomous vehicles could deliver goods cheaply and move people cheaply as well, making most independently-owned motor vehicles obsolete. Think of what could be done with parking spaces that are no longer needed. High-rise apartment complexes could be built on this newly available space. A plethora of bicycle paths could be constructed on roadways that were formally congested by emissions spewing automobiles.
The environment is a particular concern for BioEnergy Consult, which is an Australian clean energy consulting firm. According to this firm technology is essential in urban planning if the environment is to be protected. Aerial drones now allow for much easier surveying of urban tracks and properties. These surveys can become part of a database and computer technology can be used to assess the environmental impacts of changes to the urban landscape. In fact, all sorts of impacts can be measured. Powerful computer programs can measure the effects of the impact of changes on local economies and needs.
It is important to be aware of the fact that technology can displace the negative effect of such displacement on urban centers. In the 1970’s US census, it was determined that there were 1,100 high poverty urban tracks in our major cities. In 2010, the number of these high poverty tracks rose to 3,165. The number of poor in these tracks more than doubled and only 105 tracks from the original 1970 census managed to escape the high poverty designation. Already the effects of displacement are showing and it is the responsibility of urban planners to find a way to give hope to the urban poor by using technology wisely, thus leading to a new urbanism.