In sweeping images of cityscapes, it is nearly impossible to distinguish individual human beings. We clearly see the products of human actions and decisions – buildings, roadways, streetlights, parks and open space – but it is difficult if not impossible to discern people on the ground, going about their daily lives. The three papers in this series ask us to zoom in and think seriously about the human experience in cities. Putting the needs of people at the center and in full focus is fundamental for advancing urban sustainability.
For both policymakers and researchers interested in the nexus between technology use and sustainability at the local level, new data on city and county Internet use in the United States will be available in January 2016. A repository on local Internet use data supported by the National Science Foundation will be located at Arizona State University’s Center for Policy Informatics, through a partnership with researchers at the University of Iowa.
Such data is especially relevant for the many Smart Cities initiatives undertaken by local governments in recent years, and for new efforts by the White House to promote the development of Smart Cities solutions for energy, climate change, transportation, and other policy areas. The $55 million in proposed investments and $105 million in research and new federal spending for Smart Cities includes programs to “accelerate deployment of innovative technologies that tackle energy, water, waste, and air challenges.” (White House, 2015)