Global cities of the future

by Miranda Solly

First of all, I apologise to any reader who saw the ‘of the future’ in the title and thought I was going to paint a picture of space port cities, or multi-global cities full of aliens. I’d actually like to suggest why global cities become global, and what that says about how future one will grow.

The global cities we were given as examples all seem different on the surface. There are places like London or Tokyo, which are important because they form the biggest financial hubs in the world. Then there is Johannesburg, whose economy stemmed from South Africa’s mining wealth and rose to prominence in the financial sector too. Yet another type of global city is Bangalore, which has risen in status fairly recently due to its ties to global communications and the internet. They all function in similar ways, attracting highly skilled workers from around the world while also acting as a beacon to the poor from the home country and abroad. What important similarity causes people to act in this way? Money. As the proverb goes, “Money makes the world go round”. Money is necessary for most of our everyday needs and in a bigger way for large-scale developments. So money, at the moment at least, does equal power.

What interests me is that Bangalore based its wealth on information technologies, unlike the other cities, whose wealth stemmed more or less recently from industry. This is almost certainly because the digital revolution has changed humans lives as dramatically as the industrial revolution did. The places where such a huge change is navigated effectively will undoubtedly gain money because of that. As we are still discovering what digital technology can do, I am sure that there will be many more global cities like Bangalore. 

So I suggest that global cities are created when their inhabitants successfully manipulate the latest technological advancements (heavy industry, digital technology) to gain power (money). Having attained this power, people are able to forge international ties that strengthen their standing as a global city. This presents two questions: one, can existing global cities keep up with those built on new technologies; and two, what might that next advancement be?

In answer to the first question, I wonder if pre-existing power allows global cities to catch up with new technologies more quickly than other places. After all, New York and Tokyo have not suddenly become obsolete. Possibly new power structures are built with the existing ones as their basis. On the other hand, perhaps negative effects from such a revolution take more time to appear than we have been able to observe. There might be opportunities for those working in up-and-coming global cities related to new technologies that are not offered in more established communities. In London, there is talk of trying to be ‘the next Silicon Valley’, but so far no large internet companies have established themselves there (London cannot compete with the space and human resources that other global cities have). 

In answer to the second question, I think my reader’s guess is as good as mine. But hey, if Virgin Galactic really is the catalyst for a new space age, maybe the next breed of global cities will be on the moon.

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The City and Globalization

by Miki Imamura

Personally speaking, my dream is designing a city which provide environment where people can find happiness and become happy. I found the possibility to achieve global peace in designing a city as I continue studying how to solve global issues which we are facing in the world. What I believe is the crucial reason for conflict is miscommunication coming from not understanding each other. To improve communication skill to understand people who don’t share the same norm or common sense, changing their way to think is the most important, I believe. It could be done by media, education, or designing a city. Changing the way to think is very hard to do, but changing the action is so easy to do. That’s designing a city. Designing space is changing people’s movement. It can change what people see, whom people meet, and that may contribute to change people’s life. Therefore, if we design a city to provide environment where people find more chance to meet those who have different point of view, if we provide more opportunity to create communication between them through designing a city, I think people will get to know what others thinking which makes realized what themselves are. Thus, my ambition is designing a city to provide more opportunity to communicate each other.

When we think about a city, it supposed to develop for residents to improve their daily life. I was thinking so. And I was also thinking a city supposed to develop taking time and adjusting changes slowly, until I read the article written by Michael Goldman and Wesley Longhofer. In their article, “making world cities”, tells me that globalization which is rapidly spreading and deeply infiltrating in the world is changing the nature of a city. Bangalore in India is one of the “hotspot of globalization”. Bangalore is the “Silicon Valley of Asia”, and the city has totally changed not for its residents but for software elite creators. It is normal for city to get large for its economy, however the rapid growth such as Bangalore is corrupting its resident’s daily economy and making them social vulnerability. It seems like not be able to help for government to attract foreign investment to change their situation, however what they are doing is producing a huge inequality gap between poor and rich. Beside we are trying to reduce poverty, globalization and global companies are forcing a city to produce more poverty.

This fact was quite shocking for me, because the wave of globalization will not stop and might be more active in the future. Additionally our global population is still growing up. That means global companies will seek another “hotspot” and create another “Bangalore”. Stopping this movement is almost impossible because the demand of global companies and the supply of those government which they need foreign investment meet each other. What we can do is approaching companies and government to promote an urban design which gives less damage for nature of cities. The point is what this urban design would be, which I still do not know yet. Through my study, I will find it out.

Bibliography

Michael Goldman and Wesley Longhofer. (2009). making world cities. Contexts , 8 (1), 32-35.