A Chinese Commentary on Smart Cities


The Beijing City Lab now contains nearly 50 papers on how the technologies that form a science of cities are being applied in China. There is an interesting paper by Wang Jingyuan on smart cities that is worth looking at. It is in Chinese and in preparation for the first lectures on our own Masters Course in Smart Cities that has several Chinese students, you can get the paper by clicking on the links here. There is also an interview with myself and one with the late Professor Sir Peter Hall. All good stuff and a valuable resources

About the Lab: taken from their web site: “The Beijing City Lab (BCL) is a virtual research community, dedicated to studying, but not limited to, China’s capital Beijing. The Lab focuses on employing interdisciplinary methods to quantify urban dynamics, generating new insights for urban planning and governance, and ultimately producing the science of cities required for sustainable urban development. The lab’s current mix of planners, architects, geographers, economists, and policy analysts lends unique research strength.”

The City Scientific


Matt Zook drew my attention to this paper in an article he and his colleagues recently wrote called The ‘actually existing smart city’. In it, they point to the fact that a science of cities is not new – that it goes back at least to the turn of the last century and they cite George Ford’s article “The City Scientific” as an early statement of this focus. In fact as readers of this blogsprobably know, a science of cities is not the same as a science of smart cities, for the latter is much more concerned with the routine and the here and now and has much less of the theory and simulation that we have been developing for the last 50 years in transportation, regional science, spatial interaction and so on. However Ford’s article is in fact more geared to the smart city than the science of cities. John Reps scanned it and posted it online a few years ago and you can grab it here from my blog or go to Cornell where it is located too. It is short and to the point and really is all about municipal engineering but it does relate back to Cerda and Geddes and if you look at my blog www.complexcity.info then you will find that I draw inspiration from these 19th century innovators and theorists in developing this science. In fact Ford’s article was quoted in a commentary by Richard Le Gates, Nick Tate and Richard Kingston in Environment and Planning B, the journal I edit and although I approved this when it came out, I cannot remember it. But readers are also referred to this commentary and all the other editorials in B that pertain to ideas about this science and the smart city.

In Celebration of Peter Hall


Many will know that the world’s greatest planning academic passed away yesterday after a short illness. He was a great friend of CASA convincing me to come and run it in 1995 and doing much to establish and support what we continue to do: in building a science of cities. I will not eulogise Peter’s achievements but simply make this acknowledgement of his great impact. He was my mentor at Reading University in the late 1960s and 1970s where I was a lecturer (in Geography) and he the Professor. He got us all started in 1969 when he won a grant from the Centre for Environmental Studies to build land use transport models, thus nurturing a small community of scholars and practitioners that is still in existence and whose influence is slowly but surely increasing. I was fortunate that he appointed me as a research assistant to this grant in 1969 and much of what we do now in CASA emanates from those days. The picture above was taken two years ago when we celebrated his 80th birthday with a festschrift conference. Dave Foot and Erlet Cater are in the picture and they were key to our work on early land use transport models in those golden years which marked the 1960s

I have blogged the picture of the cake that was baked for Peter’s 80th birthday before but here it is again: in the image of Ebenezer Howard’s Tomorrow: A Peaceful Path to Reform.

PHCakeAnd those wishing to read the festschrift – the book that was produced for him to celebrate his career should get hold of a copy of the book