A recent TED talk, Eduardo Paes, the mayor of Rio de Janeiro gives a talk on how cities should be evolving to the future. He makes some great points - the need to have us able, efficient public transport; the need to seamlessly incorporate parks and the environment; the need to be socially integrated across the board on city services and the use of technology to make everything more efficient. The idea of a centralised operations centre - similar to that of IT operations centre - is quite interesting and I think does have a lot of potential; but off course it needs real direction and quite a lot of investment to make it work.
What is equally fascinating, are the comments to the talk, from Brazilians. While the talk, complete with a live cross over to the operations centre, is impressive - the Brazilian reaction is actually quite negative. The claims are, that what was shown is mostly fake; the city politicians are corrupt, and the showcases (of public health in favelas etc) are too few to really impact actual lives. I went to Rio over 4 years ago; and the city did not have the efficiencies then - but that doesn't mean it hasn't improved since. After all Gauteng, 4 years ago didn't have a high speed train or a bus transit system. What I liked of the talk is the promise that cities can be better; and cities can be more efficient. The talking points are applicable to all cities - we can argue on the effectiveness of the implementation.