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Technology is a tool for building better cities. Will we use it wisely?

Global urbanization unlocked enormous human potential. But it is changing the planet beyond recognition. According to one recent estimate, human-made mass now outweighs the planet’s biomass.

Technology unleashed this change. And there is no end in sight. Our output of buildings, infrastructure, and products continues to grow. Currently, it is doubling every 20 years.

But can technology help us design a new balance? Some see hope in urban tech, an emerging field of applied science and engineering that seeks to make cities more connected, livable, efficient, and accessible.

This horizon scan is a map of urban tech's potential. It charts the many promising discoveries and inventions of the decade ahead.

But urban tech is not a panacea. We must also navigate many risks along the way. These hazards are clearly marked too.

Human-Made (anthropogenic) Mass vs Biomass

Source: “Global Human-Made Mass Exceeds All Living Biomass,” by Emily Elhacham et al. (dataset)

This horizon scan plots possibilities for urban tech. These are provocations, not predictions. Use it to fire your imagination and think about what-ifs.


Dive in the Horizon Scan by exploring six big stories on the future of urban tech.