City 4.0: Urban Planning and Development in the Age of Digital Transformation

The combination of computers and distributed networks in recent decades has led to two ‘Digital Revolutions’ that enable anyone to create, disseminate, and access any information anywhere, anytime, and from any smart device. The birth of the ‘Digital Age’ is a result of a research ecosystem nurtured by government spending and military–industry–academia collaboration, along with the alliance of community organizers, communal-minded hippies, do-it-yourself hobbyists, and homebrew hackers. This collaborative creativity, known as ‘collaborative intelligence’, includes the partnership between humans and machines and has transformed service delivery.

For instance, the world’s largest taxi company, Uber, owns no vehicles; the world’s most popular media owner, Facebook, creates no content; the world’s most valuable retailer, Alibaba, has no inventory; and the world’s largest accommodation provider, Airbnb, owns no real estate. Rapid developments in the digital age position technology as an effective tool to address some of the world’s most challenging problems, especially when our impact is considered alongside our technological capabilities.

Currently, the world faces various environmental, social, health, and economic crises, including life-threatening natural disasters, loss of biodiversity, destruction of natural ecosystems, regional disparities, socioeconomic inequity, pandemics, and digital and knowledge divides. These issues are primarily driven by rapid population growth, increased resource consumption, industrialization, urbanization, mobilization, agricultural intensification, and excessive consumption-driven lifestyles. The rapid advancement of digital technologies offers hope that the impacts of these global-scale crises can be mitigated with appropriate technology.

Moreover, the expansion of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) has disrupted urban planning and development, leading to a new city conceptualization: City 4.0. This smart city blueprint aims to leverage the power of engaged and connected citizens, digital technology, and data to enhance the quality of urban life, productivity, and sustainable development. In essence, City 4.0 utilizes technological advancements and digitalization to transform local public services and the local economy, producing sustainable and desirable urban, environmental, and societal outcomes for all.



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