The most popular slogan during 2006-2007 should be “The world is flat”. This sentence, coming from the dramatically developed internet and showing the flourish ambition of practitioners, had been interpreted as follows in the field of urban development: Development opportunity for cities in medium and small scale would be more and faster compared to the big cities, which
simultaneously composed the politic basis of widely promoting “urbanization” in medium and small cities. However the truth was: From 2007 to2012, big cities were developed with a quicker velocity whereas medium and small scale rivals were continuously surrounded by negative news such as stagflation and the redundancy of capital supply.
互联网像潮水淹没所有的人，但是似乎并没有改变地平线。It seems that the flood made by internet overwhelmed everyone, but had not reach the horizon.
几乎所有的城市招商和发展产业的条件都是税收优惠和土地低价供给，而城市传统、基础设施、易居易学易行的条件，乃至河流是否清洁、食品是否健康等等因素却无语而坚定地影响着产业的最关键要素——“人”是否选择留下，也就是统称的“城市服务”内容。我们往往会在城市和服务之间加上“公共”二字，因为传统的城市公共服务供应商，只有政府一家。基于互联网技术的“智能城市”系统，则忽然在我们面前展开一种可能性，也就是在一个共同开放的平台上，民间和私人公司也可以提供公共服务的内容。Preferential tax policies and lands supplies on low prices were the conditions for attracting investment and achieving development in almost every city. But traditions, infrastructures, convenient actions for habitation, education and transportation, even to whether the river in city was clean, food were healthy were the elements which solidly and quietly affected the most important factor of industries of city—the city service that decided whether humans would like to stay. We always added the word “public” between “City” and “Services” since that service supplier in common cities was always the government. However, the “intelligent city” system based on internet technology showed another option before us, namely the services delivered by civilian organizations and private companies on a public open platform.
在这里，我重点要说的是原住民。Here, I would like to talk about the aborigines (original residents).
In all the urban planning projects charged by me, the settlement of aborigines highly presented the technical reasonability with internal functions which were autonomic supplying various possibilities according to the requirement during the development. For instance, the “urban-villages” of Shenzhen were the very services to cover the absence of social housing project in last 30 years and to bear the residential pressure from four million migrant workers so far, which guaranteed the competitiveness of Shenzhen indirectly. The notorious issues of urban-villages on hygiene and security were nothing but the isolation from publicity and failing to connect with public services. On the current urban plan drawings of Shenzhen, urban-villages were still showed as blank, just like they were the exceptional spaces invaded the city afterwards… But those misfits regions of the urban plan probably could be easily connected together with the help of “cloud” technology.
At the same time, the current procedure of “industrialization firstly→population accumulation after→then modernization” almost destroyed the declined local culture. By contrast, the “intelligent city” workstation had shown a fascinating possibility: traditional villages, towns and historical cities might efficiently achieve modernization with minimum damage through the efficient service “spots” organized by internet. That echoed to the evolution of urban development instead of a revolution.
Since 2009, I had been researching on low-impact developmental mode, realizing that the current standard of urban plan and the administrative system were the chief culprits resulting in duplicated cities everywhere. For example, cities with 100 thousand people in China would be planned to have its population being increased 5 times afterwards. Furthermore, a one-step process was usually asked for that city center with related road nets. Imaging a child who was highly likely to grow up to be a tall man wearing shoes bigger than size 42, if he had been forced to wear shoes in this size since he was born, it possibly would ruin his ability to walk.
In our case of urban design, we used to deliver a growing process and individual autonomic region center, and the civic facilities were able to be holistically organized for a bigger city scale for the future.
I believed that the concept of the management of intelligent city would make such holistic organization more controllable and efficient, not to mention the advantages on investment saving for the beginning and overall and protection on environment and culture. This type of plan had to be comprehensive, open and integrated, which also became the weakness on application since I then realized for the first time how difficult it would be when this urban scale project involved different related department.
Taking the contrast between the openness of intelligent management and independency of different departments as an example, we had to rethink where the real “intelligent city” should come from. If it had failed to connect the existing administrative resources and occupants, it would only be “a city in the air”.
It reminded me Steve Jobs’ Apple system here. He certainly knew the progressiveness of this system. Should it be compatible to other systems, which probably meant a retrograde step? Jobs chose no.
Of course, the success of Apple is an individual case of productions. As arguably the biggest social product, namely cities, all related services were forced to consider the compatibility to the status quo. It would be challenging our intelligent and patient.