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How humanity can flourish in the cities of the future

In her opening remarks to the first Digital Cities Summit, Dean Persis Drell outlines the ways big data can advance the next generation of infrastructure services.

Aerial view of city intersection

Managing urbanization | iStock Photography/Alija

 

Welcoming academic, government and industry leaders around the world who are advancing the theory and practice of digitization of city services to the Digital Cities Summit 2016, Stanford Engineering Dean Persis Drell asks, “How can engineering ensure that humanity flourishes in the cities of the future?”

In light of the accelerating global trend of urbanization, it’s a question that will only grow more urgent. “City governments are being challenged, overstretched, perhaps even in some cases overwhelmed by mass migration, which is challenging the infrastructure systems of housing, water supply, waste treatment, power, telecommunications,” Drell says. At the same time, new technologies and the exponentially decreasing costs of sensors, wireless communications and computing power present a new era of opportunity to meet the needs of tomorrow’s cities.

“The organizers of this conference hope that the confluence of these trends will open up a host of new business models for both governments and private firms to adopt,” Drell says. “And hopefully, make infrastructure services even more robust and accessible.”