Urban Inequality and Opportunity

In a world rapidly embracing artificial intelligence(AI) one has to marvel at the complete absence of any evidence of intelligence, human or digital, employed in Dublin’s traffic light system. It might surprise non-residents of the city to know that Dublin and its relatively small population of 1.4 million souls is now the 14th most congested city on the planet. For local drivers assaulted on a daily basis by Dublin’s bizarre traffic light sequencing, the challenge is not news to them and merely confirms the existence of planned idiocy(PI). Urban planning is about to become a critical component in driving the prosperity and wellbeing of the planet’s inhabitants.

Urbanization of the world’s population is rapidly accelerating and revealing winners and losers. The UN predicts the world’s urban populations became the majority of 55% in 2008 and will grow to 70% by 2050. The European Commission using satellite technology and broader definitions of urban centres estimate 84% of the world’s population, or 6.4 billion people, already live in urban areas. One gets the sense that this trend has caught governments off guard and presented challenges and opportunities. Not unlike Dublin’s traffic planning, recent headlines might appear random but actually reveal proactive initiatives to cope with urbanization. Consider the following recent reports which caught the attention of this trapped driver:

  • Indonesia is building a new capital:
  • The reason for this move is that the current capital, Jakarta, and its 10 million inhabitants are sinking into the Java Sea. Excessive pumping of the city’s groundwaters has resulted in aquifer compression and a 4-metre fall in surface elevation. Given Jakarta sits on the coast and sea levels are rising a perfect storm of climate change and planned idiocy(PI) has forced a major governmental re-think and cost; estimates to relocate 1.5 million civil servants are already above $33 billion.

  • India has revoked Article 370 in Kashmir:
  • This critical article in the Indian constitution guarantees special rights to the Muslim-majority state and restricts migration to preserve historic demographics. Kashmiris now suspect the removal of constitutional protections will lead to mass migration to its higher altitude(cooler) territory from Indian cities enduring extreme temperatures, traffic chaos and pollution due to decades of PI. Consider the urban population reports of the UN and EC and then think about India’s urban population percentage at just 33%. The government appears to be looking for planning short cuts even at the risk of war with Pakistan. That smells of panic.

  • Boston is using machine learning to improve its school bus system:
  • Boston has teamed up with MIT to deploy an algorithm which identifies the most efficient and cost-effective routes for its school bus operations. The result has been $5m worth of savings and a reduction of CO2 emissions by 9,000kg daily thanks to 1.6m fewer kilometres driven. The algorithm takes 30 minutes to do a job that used to take weeks.

Hello Dublin. Any chance of a call to Siemens who have just helped the Chinese city of Zhuhai become a smart green city with the most ecological traffic system in the world powered by AI? Urbanization is a long term structural story and smart solutions to the challenges of legacy planning idiocy will command juicy prices from panic-stricken governments.

Get planning. Get solution. Get funding.


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