Executive Summary

Problem Description

Present State of Knowledge

Approach and Method

Modeling and Measuring the Information City

Information and Household Mobility in Cities and Metropolitan Areas

Telecommunications, Infrastructure, and the Environment

Information and Telecommunications Technology and Inner-City Communities

Broader Impacts

Dissemination of Research




Executive Summary

The economic future of our cities will be defined by their capacity to generate, process, and distribute information. With the emergence of the Internet, the diffusion of personal computers and the advent of telecommunications deregulation, cities face unprecedented requirements to compete as centers of economic activity, culture, and civic activity. Urban Researchers must understand and explain the way in which information and telecommunications technologies are transforming the cities and metropolitan areas where people live and work. This project will establish a new conceptual framework in which to study and analyze these patterns of urban change.

The project is designed to achieve four objectives: 1) formulate new indicators of urban activity, based on the production, organization, and movement of information between and among metropolitan regions; 2) identify and analyze emerging spatial patterns of household location in central cities and metropolitan regions with regard to education, professional skills, and access to computers; 3) assess the long-term impact of telecommunication systems on the transportation infrastructure and physical environment of cities and metropolitan regions; and 4) determine how information technologies can be used to strengthen the economic and social structure of inner-city communities. Taken together, these objectives will provide a new perspective on the future of urban environments that can inform research and policy in the next century.

A new telecommunications infrastructure is being built in the United States, leading to an urban system in which access to high speed telecommunications, skilled labor force, and information-generating institutions are more important than traditional determinants of growth such as a deep-water port, cost of labor, or proximity to markets. With information and telecommunications technologies transforming urban regions, the project has an interdisciplinary team that brings together expertise in urban planning, environmental science, engineering, computer science, anthropology, and public policy. The project will be based at New York University's Taub Urban Research Center; it will be conducted in collaboration with the Institute for Civil Infrastructure Systems (ICIS), drawing upon scholars from Cornell University, University of Texas at Dallas, University of Delaware, University of California at Irvine, and University of Southern California.

Three distinctive elements enhance this project's impact on scholarship and policy:

  • First, the scope of the project is future-oriented. We will contribute to and expand the body of knowledge on information technology and urban development.

  • Second, this project is linked to several disciplines; therefore, the opportunity for guiding future researchers is greater than if the project were confined to a single discipline.

  • Third, the proposal team has a record of disseminating research to a national audience of scholars and policymakers.

With support from the National Science Foundation, under the Urban Research Initiative
(C) 1999, 2000, 2001 Taub Urban Research Center, New York University
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