Glass building full of high tech equipment

Future Cities

Re-imagining Our Communities in the Age of Digital Disruption

Curious about what to expect when coming to campus? Please visit our Campus Learning page.

The city of the future is digital, environmental, and socially friendly. This is the time to prepare and take advantage of the possibilities. The opportunities are endless.

Cities–new and old, large and small– are looking for ways to differentiate themselves in these rapidly changing times. Environmental and social externalities, technology and innovation will serve as the catalyst for economic growth, enhanced security, improved sustainability and next-generation experiences, thereby changing the way we work, live, learn, and play.

Community leaders, planners, government officials, the business sector, and other municipal stakeholders are looking towards the “smart city” movement to serve as a foundation for change and to provide a platform for sustainable innovation and growth. Entities such as Government services, healthcare, education, transportation and buildings, become more intelligent and service-oriented as they are infused with digital technologies and innovations. The impact of networked services, applications, smart objects, and experiences is profound and will re-shape the world as we know it. To have a lasting positive effect on our communities the impact of environmental and social externalities, technology, and innovation must be defined, grounded, implemented, and celebrated with the help of collaborative eco-systems (mobilizing the community).

The ‘Future Cities’ program will explore how to build such collaborative eco-systems and instill lasting change for our future cities. This program will explore the technology trends and tools that underpin the digital transformation of our communities and delve into the environmental and social impacts to be taken into consideration when re-imagining the future of a city. You will emerge from the class with the framework necessary to define and pursue “purpose” through the use of innovation with the help of all relevant stakeholders.

  • Summarize the principles and foundational requirements of the smart city in the digital age.
  • Recognize the opportunities of the Smart City in all aspects of life–not a technology discussion but a value conversation (health, education, transportation, buildings).
  • Outline governance, policies, partnerships–a blueprint on “how to get started.”
  • Lessons learned from Smart City examples all around the world.

Planners, designers, architects, developers, public officials, and service providers interested in the possibilities of creating “smarter cities”.


Headshot of Rick Huijbregts

Rick Huijbregts

Principal, Oranje Consulting

Headshot of Miguel Martins

Miguel J. Martins

Global Lead – Innovation & Sustainability, Knowledge, Learning & Innovation Office, International Finance Corporation (IFC)

Well researched and expertly delivered, the course provided invaluable insights and provocative solutions to broaden our thinking about the design and activation of intelligent cities.

Matthew Von Ertfelda, Marriott International

Towards Smarter Cities

How might we imagine ‘Smarter Cities’ in the future? Technology can only do so much, especially when cities often lack the basic building blocks, and complexities ranging from the physical location to the city’s socio-economic, political, and aspirational context require nuanced attention. Cities must be imagined, governed, and made humane and equitable places. This session will first cover the business-as-usual imagination of smart cities, and the politics and interests that drive it. Participants will engage in a group exercise to inventory useful parameters and aspirations towards making Smarter Cities.  The second part will then delve into the broader parameters and challenges we should consider in finding smarter ways to imagine cities of the future.

Headshot of Rahul Mehrotra

Rahul Mehrotra

Chairman, Department of Urban Planning and GSD Dean Designate
Harvard GSD

Future Cities