Urban planning in the era of Smart Cities

Urban planning in the era of Smart Cities

What is Urban Planning?

Urban planning can be described as a technical process that deals with the development and use of land. This includes but is not limited to the use and protection of the environment, the design of urban centers, creating communities, accommodating growth and implementing plans that facilitate the growth and revitalization of towns, cities and metropolitan areas of various sizes.


The Roman colony of Cologne founded in the 1st century.

The  Roman Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium, present day Cologne, Germany.


This concept has been identified as early as the early Egyptians, Romans and Greeks, who designed and built their cities in distinct grid patterns. As the civilizations grew and expanded, so did the idea of urban planning. All across Europe, evidence of this still persists, despite the downfall of two of those three civilizations.


Urban planning and the industrial revolution

With the advent of the industrial age, urban planning and design had to adapt to the rapid growth and its consequences, as manufacturing plants and factories were being erected with alarming regularity. Private enterprises were the development monopoly and with that, public awareness began to rise.


Pittsburg, Pensylvania in 1902

Factories built near urban areas in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1902


1899 witnessed the birth of one of the first professional urban planning organizations in the Town and Country Planning Association. They represent, as noted on their website, "a fusion of ideas about social justice, beauty in design, health and wellbeing and economic efficiency."


What does urban planning look like today?

Urban planning today is nothing short of a global enterprise.  With dense metropolitan areas being home to millions of residents and travelers alike, urban planning and design is now focused on optimal efficiency and convenience for transportation and safety services. There is and will be a continued emphasis on route planning, especially for the emergency services, as well as the development and deployment of detection systems and networks.

With Internet of Thing (IOT) devices such as the Ambience Data BlueJay and Sparrow, continual monitoring of environmental parameters is possible. Certification organizations such as LEED now require this kind of consistent and continual monitoring of buildings if companies wish to acquire green building certification. The development of IOT not only impacts indoor environments like offices, commercial buildings and schools, but also the outdoors as well. With urban and regional planning dictating where parks, pools and hiking trails will be developed, certain factors such as noise pollution and fine dust particle patterns are now informing these planning decisions. With robust wide area networks being deployed by cities, such as Santiago and Seoul, urban planning is poised to make another paradigm shift, similar to the one sparked by this industrial revolution in the 1900s. The IOT revolution.


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