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Inaugural lecture of the UOC's 2007-2008 academic year

Intelligent cities

William J. Mitchell (

Professor of Architecture and Media Arts and Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)


Following a historical journey through the different physical structures of cities, we arrive in the 21st century, where cities have all the sub-systems that are needed by living organisms: structural skeletons, various layers of protective skins and artificial nervous systems. In this context, to create new intelligence in the cities, we need to combine software and digital telecommunications networks, ubiquitously embedded intelligence, and sensors and identifiers.

The City Car is an example of the comfortable, cheap and sustainable contributions that a smart city can make to citizens' personal mobility. This prototype is a clean, compact and efficient city car, which can fold and stack like a shopping trolley, and charge up on electricity in the meantime.

If intelligent embedded technology starts to be used ubiquitously, vehicles and the different mechanical and electrical systems in buildings can become specialised robots able to respond intelligently to the surrounding environments in which they are integrated. Likewise, resources can be managed in more sophisticated ways, with unimaginable effects on space use models and building systems.


city car, intelligent city, sustainability, transport, urban planning

Submission date:  July 2007
Published in:  October 2007

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