Johan Minnie, Manager Spatial and Management Information Systems, represented the HDA at a Forum on Future Cities at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts on 12 and 13 April. The event, hosted by MIT’s SENSEable City Lab brought together leading thinkers in academia, industry and government from around the world to discuss pressing issues of urbanisation and to explore how new technologies are impacting on solutions to the problems.

According to Minnie the most important question raised during the two day conference was “to what extent will planners be able to use real-time data and research to build safe, integrated, green, sustainable and liveable cities with economic opportunities, access to infrastructure and mobility, as well as social cohesion for people with people?” The message was loud and clear – future cities will not be viable without technology.

Minnie also met with Patricia Smith of the Philadelphia based TRF PolicyMap where a mapping tool has been developed and used by various development funding agencies.  According to Minnie, “The strength of this initiative is in its analyses and the different views of the analysis shown, using the mapping too”. He also attended a meeting with Andrew Reicher at UHAB, a co-operative housing agency in New York where buildings are identified through a partnership with municipalities.  “What was interesting is that city administrations rezone properties and these rezoned properties are then obtained by the UHAB who in turn revamp the buildings into a liveable area and administer the building in collaboration with the City Administration,” explained Minnie.  UHAB ensures that the rent and administration is stabilised, affordable and have various training programmes for the people living in the building.