Life in the Real-Time City: Mobile Telephones and Urban Metabolism

August 2000

Anthony M. Townsend
Taub Urban Research Center
New York University



While in the past five years the Internet and World Wide Web have received a great deal of attention from the media and scholars alike, other telecommunications technologies have rapidly diffused in this period as well. Mobile telephones have been rapidly accepted throughout the urban world, particularly in countries with far lower levels of Internet use.

While mobile telephones are sold as a technology that helps conquer constraints of location and geography, it is increasingly apparent that the time-management capabilities of this new tool are equally important.

As a result, the widespread use of these devices is quickening of the pace of urban life and at an aggregate level, resulting in a dramatic increase in the metabolism of urban systems. This quickening metabolism is directly tied to the widespread formation of new decentralized information networks facilitated by this new technology. As a result, new paradigms for understanding the city and city planning in a decentralized context are discussed.


Download the Full Report
( Adobe PDF version)


Need the Adobe PDF Viewer?


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