Cities, Infrastructure, Technology

Image courtesy of ULI Europe.

I recently moderated a session on Technology and Real-Estate at the Urban Land Institute conference in Paris. The overall context recognised the rise of the Sharing Economy and emerging innovations and disrupters that are influencing the development of urban land and real estate.

The panelists:

  • Alice Charles, Urban Development leader at World Economic Forum. Speaking with a view to public policy, Alice discussed characteristics of the “4th Industrial Revolution”, and gave 10 examples of opportunities related to infrastructure capacities and digitally integrated services (‘Internet of Things’, ‘Smart Cities’ etc.).
  • Coen van Oostrom, founder of OVG Real Estate. Speaking from the point of view of an asset manager, Coen discussed emerging tools for sustainability and high-performance buildings. He used the case study of ‘The Edge’ office building in Amsterdam and explored how users benefited from Big Data sources within buildings.
  • Thomas Sevcik, founder of Arthesia. Focussing on issues related to urbanity/lifestyle, Thomas reviewed how the smartphone was impacting the physical realm, and how traditional characteristics of urban clusters were being redefined with new measurements of proximity, which are leading to new efficiencies and environmental benefits.

As a group, we affirmed the possibilities of hyper-connectivity. But we also recognised the increasing difficulty of keeping pace with technological change, which creates challenges for governance and implementation. We noted how societies in different stages of evolution may be affected by emerging technology  (e.g. Japan, with a wealthy and aging population, has lots to gain from robotization. Whereas India, with a large, relatively younger low-wage workforce, will be threatened.) We recognised the desirability in some cases of the ‘Unsmart City’, which mixes populations that are increasingly polarized.

Watch a video of the panel here.


Karla GowlettChris Choa is an urban design principal in AECOM’s London office.


Originally published Feb 11, 2016

Author: Chris Choa