Allison Arieff in the NYT: Reading the City

Really great post by Allison Arieff, a design and architecture writer at the NYT: Reading the City –

Arieff recently went to Barcelona for a smart cities conference:

There are two common-sense truths to smart cities. First, technology is awesome, yes, but we should be viewing it not as a silver bullet but one admittedly phenomenal tool of many in any city’s arsenal. (And, as many asked when the power went out during a panel discussion: How do you have a smart city with no electricity?)

Second, the most successful technologies are well-hidden — invisible, even — which means there isn’t a lot to see at a smart cities conference.

So, thanks to a smart phone that wasn’t quite smart enough, she ended up wandering the streets with an old-fashioned map and returned to her home in San Francisco energized.

Arieff then briefly recaps a number of books published in 2012 about “cities, walking, suburbia.” For example, she writes of Jeff Speck’s Walkable City:

In his new book, “Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time,” Speck highlights 10 steps for cultivating urban walkability. Often provocative (“Specialists give bad advice, American parking is socialist”), the book is delightfully acronym- and jargon-free, and most of Speck’s suggestions are revolutionary in their simplicity (i.e., “plant trees” and “welcome bikes”). Each step, he writes, “individually makes a difference; collectively they can transform a city and the lives of its residents.”

Speck argues for friendlier architecture to engage citizens […]

The entire post is well worth a read for those who love cities and seeing firsthand how they work — or not.
Forsyth Park