A reader responds to Richard Kauntze’s article on intelligent cities


Richard Kauntze’s commentary in Building, “Intelligent cities defined”, (12 June 2015, pages 26 and 27) describes a vision of the future where people and things can be constantly connected to the digital world. Insight from the data that this generates and that informs the planning of urban spaces should be embraced. Achieving more integrated, liveable cities is an opportunity to be grasped, and an ambition that I share.

The next steps are critical though. In the UK, we have few opportunities to plan essential infrastructure from scratch. So in practice the updating of our cities has to be more of an exercise of designing, renewing or replacing local pieces of a city’s mosaic. Trying to integrate new large scale infrastructure and connections within a densely utilised urban area, and in a way that minimises the negative impacts on the environment and the communities that it is intended to serve, is a huge challenge.With our cities evolving faster now than at any point in history, as an industry, we need to rise to this challenge. This will call for a blended approach to planning, embracing four key elements: liveability and usability; water and climate resilience; harnessing environmental systems including green infrastructure; and innovation. Focusing on the latter should not be at the expense of the other three.

As Richard says, it is time that warrants an ever-increasing ambition of what can be achieved. Opportunities to renew places and create infrastructure will take thought, skill and collaboration, as well as data insight.

Chris Fry, Temple Group, via email