When you look historically, there's a really interesting connection between debates around smart cities, smart technologies and ecological questions. About twenty years ago, in the 1980s, in the period when we were really interested in questions around Local Agenda 21 and urban sustainability, there was an awful lot of policy and commercial interest in the ways in which smart technologies would dissolve the need for travel, that we could deliver goods and services through information and communication technologies, that they would somehow dissolve the need for physical movement. I think what the last twenty years have shown is actually that the relationship between smart technologies and the physical environment and infrastructure is very different to the one that was hoped and expected. So in fact, the ability to communicate actually leads to demands and aspirations for more mobility, physical movement.
And if you look at the trends, as our ability to communicate through ICTs had increased, so has physical movement as well. And we're in another phase where we're now talking about smart infrastructures, smart cities and their role in climate change, their role in building energy security and smart energy systems. And unfortunately, I think we're going to be really disappointed with the outcome of these systems, because they're not actually really being framed within the context of ecological constraint or the management of resource flows. It's actually really about the delivery of additional services, it's really about opening up opportunities for the consumption of more products and further mobility. And I think we're going to have another one of those dips, where we realize that actually if we constitute smart technologies solely as a commercial product and as a consumer product, we're going to miss the quite interesting possibilities that those technologies could provide us in thinking about ecological urbanism.