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The City of The Future: It's Changing -- But Into What?

Leading futurist Glen Hiemstra on what's driving change in 21st century cities

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Txch: How might always being online alter the physical form that cities take?

GH: This will almost certainly change the physical form of future cities. I haven’t worked out how yet. Think about it in terms of 50 or 100 years ago, when the phone and cars came out and it made the concept of suburban living possible.

Connectivity will continue to diminish the concentration of lots of people in really large office towers. If you go to a 3-D world that’s always online, you can do your routing work wherever you are rather than commuting to a place. I believe the concept of a community’s simultaneous commute into work will have greatly diminished by then and so will the great waste of time and energy in commuting. People will commute when necessary or when they want to. It could lead to a flatter city. I worked with an Australian company that downgraded by one-third the commercial space they were planning to build by 2020 based on these projections that people won’t be coming into work as much. That’s a real change.

Michael Keller is the Managing Editor of Txchnologist. His work has appeared online and in newspapers, magazines and books. Reach him at

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