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How Technology Can Make Our Urban Future Better

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Blanca Rooks

Engineering the Megacity

How Technology Can Make Our Urban Future Better

CitiesвЂ"whether we love them or hate them, before long most of us will be living in them. By 2008, more than half the world’s population will be urban dwellers. By 2030, 4.9 billion, or 60 percent of us, will call the city home.

One of the big engineering challenges is to solve the problems that we face as the cities multiply, grow, and mature into the largest and most complicated urban habitats: megacities. In 1950, there were just two cities with populations of 10 million or more: New YorkвЂ"Newark and Tokyo. But by 2015, according to the United Nations, there will be 22 megacities, and 12 of these will have populations of 15 million or more.

Technology will have to find solutions to urban challenges like pollution, transportation, energy and communications.

Shanghai, where explosive growth produced one of the most polluted cities, is building the first “eco-city,” Dongtan.

Built in an island off the coast of Shanghai, Dongtan has been designed to be completely self-sufficient, providing its own food and energy. The designers of this city, an architect and a chemist, re-engineered existing technologies to maximize efficiency and significantly reduce pollution and waste of all kinds, while providing it with all the energy required from natural resources.

Power is the economic lifeblood of the 21st. century city, especially for a boomtown like Mumbai (formerly Bombay). But Mumbai’s economy has grown so quickly in recent years that its electrical grids are sagging under the weight of this new prosperity. Indian power companies implemented innovative plans to keep the grids up and running while developing



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