Civilizations have long been measured by the greatness of their cities; Alexandria, Rome, Chungking, Tenochtitlan. For thousands of years our cities have brought together people of all social strata and businesses of every industry. They are the platforms upon which commerce gets done. And they represent the human capacity for culture, community, and progress.
The popularity of cities continues to grow today. By 2010, there will be 59 metropolitan areas with populations greater than five million. The number of inhabitants in urban environments is expected to swell to more than 6 billion by 2050, more than 60 percent of the world population.
Of course, more people mean greater demand for energy, water, food, housing, and capital. It means that older cities will need to update critical infrastructure, and new cities will need to build adaptable, flexible systems to accommodate shifting demographics. In both the developed and developing world, cities are being rethought.
Throughout 2009 the GIO will be exploring the potential for innovation in urban systems. We will be looking for ways to better monitor, measure and improve everything from urban transportation systems to urban energy delivery. And along the way we hope to uncover insights that will lead to smarter, more efficient cities of the future. Check back frequently at the GIO blog for ongoing commentary on our progress.