It's counter-intuitive to many -- including me -- that cities, especially big cities, are the most sustainable places on earth.
Yet through a combination of infrastructure, such as high-rise apartment buildings, and behavior, such as driving less, urban households use 15 percent less energy than their rural counterparts (the suburbs are worse yet, I'm afraid).
In his highly-recommended new book, "The Triumph of the City," Harvard economist Edward Glaeser elegantly argues that cities are humankind's greatest invention and government policies should encourage urbanization in the developed and developing worlds.
The role of information technologies in creating more livable and sustainable cities, sometimes known as "smart cities," has landed on our research agenda at Forrester. My colleague Jennifer Belissent has done deep research into how IT vendors are creating and exploiting opportunities helping local governments improve the efficiency and sustainability of urban infrastructure. Forrester defines the smart city as:
A "city" that uses information and communications technologies to make the critical infrastructure components and services of a city -- administration, education, healthcare, public safety, real estate, transportation, and utilities -- more aware, interactive, and efficient.
Siemens envisions the critical infrastructure components as depicted in the figure below.