ubiquitious city

New Songdo

, as masterplanned by KPF with help by Arup, is being called a ubiquitous city. I'm feeling that something is missing in the translation. Ok, they mean 'technology-enabled living', and that technology will saturate the place - but isn't that asking a lot for a developer driven project?

Billed as the next stage of development for technology-enabled living, New Songo will equipped with a $297 million RFID research center when completed in 2014, and its 65,000 residents will all have homes with electronic locks, integrated videoconferencing, VoD, and unified systems and services down to details like each resident having a non-identity linked smartcard that transacts purchases, grants entry to mass transit, parking, and opens your front door at the end of the day (uhh). There are some seriously high hopes for the $25 billion project, of course, but we've still got another nine years until they've wrapped up their spankin' new city to see exactly how obsolete this now-futuristic lifestyle setup will really seem.

There is something rather dystopic and creepy about having your location continually tracked by the central computer- hello THX or maybe this is the rise of Big Brother. Or is it just another expression of asian hyper-modernity and service?

ubiquitous city symposia

Apr 21, 08 4:37 pm

Seems like a radical build up for something ultimately pretty ordinary. Instead of a city formed by the implications of new technology they've just adapted technology to serve traditional models.

So the only purpose of "New Songdo" that I can gather is to alleviate the pocket contents of its inhabitants by eliminating the need to carry cell phone, credit card, transit pass and house keys all at once.

Apr 21, 08 4:58 pm  · 
Carl Douglas (agfa8x)

can't you pretty much do all those things with your cellphone in japan? jump?

Apr 21, 08 6:56 pm  · 
but isn't that asking a lot for a developer driven project?

How do the requirements for a developer driven city differ from any other city development?

Apr 21, 08 7:42 pm  · 

Umm seems to me like any other tech enabled new green city.
Personally i would rather live in a less tech invaded world in general.
So i guess with all the tech they aren't going to bother claiming green credentials? (smile)

Apr 21, 08 7:52 pm  · 
So the only purpose of "New Songdo" that I can gather is to alleviate the pocket contents of its inhabitants by eliminating the need to carry cell phone, credit card, transit pass and house keys all at once.


open the coke can/s upon entering the text message for you and your guests if you are running out of time,

remote control dishwasher (standard, no charge for this function),

sexually stimulate partners when tired and sleepy,

cook your food but burn it every once in a while for real life experience simulation,

call to moral authorities when f word is used in the presence of anybody under 18 y.o,

hide your identity when spitting from the balcony somehow (permit pending),

scramble private conversations allowing the walls build up from cheaper and lighter materials thus allowing long cantilevered building forms,

tell the cheating partner you are so many minutes away from arrival at the site or allow willing party to see the action,

help edit your own reality show,

identify and tell creditors you don't exist or no longer living in ubiquitous city limits,

help you with dinner menu (standard, no charge for this function),

help you with fine tuning of your computer's anti virus program,

help you with manèging your free time in the house,

help you improve your computer game playing,

help you with your spelling when posting in internet via internal speaker system (new!),

give you extra hints of who dunit when watching mystery movies on your free time,

built in organ recognition system to let you know you have already watched that home made porno video before (back by popular demand and half price with the purchase of best of amateur videos called, 'other neighborhoods gone crazy in ubiquitous city' collection)

announce, again with the internal speaker system, you are doing the right thing,

automatically inform everybody in the neighborhood that you are going to take a walk with your dog,

automatically screen bad news coming from oppressed countries.



the ubiquitous city reminds me a version of a contemporary mix used company town with marina and voleyball team.

Apr 21, 08 9:02 pm  · 

re: company town.
yes, this ubiquitous city seems like that. but then isn't china just a corporatist state with communist window dressing.

at least this city is opt-in surveillance rather than the 'friendly' big-brotherhood of the congestion zone in London or many downtown's in the US.

don't you long for the good old days when the stasi just made everyone a snitch/spy.

seriously, use a grocery membership card, credit card or shop at amazon and the folks know who you are, what you buy, what you want to buy etc. ever wonder how secure all that info is? i wonder how many states sell your driver's license info--like florida. paranoia comes so easily these days.

Apr 21, 08 9:14 pm  · 

orhan- that list isn't quite as creepy as I imagine ubiquity could be.

@mleitner- don't know about you, but every new city project I've worked on for a private developer tends to cut corners and do things on the cheap. Versus institutional client urban design/masterplanning projects where they care less about profits and are looking at the longterm tax base/economic growth/other criteria for success (and they have deeper pockets).

Apr 21, 08 9:20 pm  · 

yeah we gots some of that here in tokyo.

my personal fav, recently added to the brew is an electronic pass that lets you use all trains buses and subways in the city, regardless of who owns them. it is soooo much faster now to get round city.

but that isn't something to base a city plan on...really, who cares. technology of this kind really only works with bottom up support...what doesn't work so well from bottom up is tragedy of the commons type stuff...i guess they have those bases covered somehow but bet it is in standard way and not creative or forward thinking...more smoke more mirrors, less city?

Apr 22, 08 11:25 am  · 


urbanism is by definition a network. A social network, business network, industrial network, and infrastructural network all take on similar spatial organizations. A digital network's parameters for spatiality doesn't seem to differ significantly from previous urban precedents.

even quartzsite's nomadic/spontaneous urbanism ends up with clusters, circulation paths, and gathering places.

May 5, 08 11:13 am  · 

just found this interesting spin on ubiquitous research: living labs

& wikipedia has a good article that traces the use of the term including the origination by mark weiser at xeroxPARC

Jul 1, 08 6:21 pm  · 

When does a big brother ubiquitous security system become a dystopic ubiquitous city?

Has london's ring of steel changed how folks live? will NYC's attempt to monitor everything in lower manhattan manage to improve or destroy the lives of folks?

Sep 9, 08 11:33 am  · 

My mostly anecdotal (both from friends and news reports) is that London's ring of steel has had a perhaps minimal impact. As in the case of the 7-11 bombers crime hasn't really gone down. It is just easier to catch perpetrators post crime (sometimes)... I think the line is very fine one indeed between the two visions of the future city...
However, one key factor that is connected with my comment above, is the inability to process such large amounts of data, by law enforcement and government types (at least until AI gets way better). Or so they say...

Wired Magazine and it's blogs have done some good articles looking at the impacts of ubiquitous security technology. As has Mute Magazine although from a more liberal/anti ubiquitous city prespective. For example see the article by Bryan Finoki and Angela Mitropolous I posted in the news section last night...

Personally i find it an interesting debate as i definetely side with some of the fears of anti-ubiquity libertarians and liberals but at the same time the opportunities of the ubiquitous city as it relates to networked infrastructre and adaptable urbanism seem real and promising.
For a good description of the latter i recently read (not sure if you already have read or are a regular reader of) Dan Hill of City of Sounds who posted a great little read the other day. See the Daptive City

Sep 9, 08 4:08 pm  · 

Should read, The Adaptive City

Sep 9, 08 4:09 pm  · 
liberty bell

Nam, I'm sorry, you make a good point but I can't stop giggling at your typo: the 7-11 bombers...guys that just hate those damn convenience stores! Jihad against 24/7 minimarts! ;-)

Tom Friedman on Fresh Air yesterday said that the best way to make people more 'green" is to basically embed them in a system that forces it: lights that go off when no one is in the room, appliances that adjust to how much food/how dirty the dishes are in them, etc. Because people don't want to think, they just want to do what they want to do.

But, as is definitely the case with me and my GPS, the outcome may be that users just become more and more stupid.

Sep 9, 08 10:38 pm  · 

Woops i guess i was getting 9-11 and 7-7 confused and combined them..

I meant 7-07

Sep 9, 08 11:07 pm  · 

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