City Protocol’s “Anatomy” Sets Foundation for Interoperable City Platform
Who will you meet?
Cities are innovating, companies are pivoting, and start-ups are growing. Like you, every urban practitioner has a remarkable story of insight and challenge from the past year.
Meet these peers and discuss the future of cities in the new Meeting of the Minds Executive Cohort Program. Replace boring virtual summits with facilitated, online, small-group discussions where you can make real connections with extraordinary, like-minded people.
Cities hold the opportunity – and arguably the responsibility – to host and shape the vibrant and sustainable societies of tomorrow. I first “got” this in a deep way in 2012 while reading the report “CityStates: How Cities are vital to the future of sustainability.”
This report, developed by Chris Guenther and Mohammed Al-Shawaf of SustainAbility, outlines how the power of the CityState is derived and enhanced by being “connected, decisive, adaptive, collaborative/competitive, visceral, personal and experimental.” The understanding of a City as a potent jurisdiction for sustainability-driven transformation was born in me that day. As Al-Shawaf asserts in the video introduction to the report, “Sustainability needs cities as much as cities need sustainability.”
So — I was intrigued to discover the City Protocol while doing research for a series of sustainability-focused articles on Smart Cities earlier this year.
The City Protocol seeks to define a common systems view for cities, and co-develop protocols that will help innovators create and cities deploy interoperable and sustainable solutions – solutions which help cities and citizens to connect, decide, adapt, collaborate/compete and experiment in a personal, experimental – and yet risk-mitigated – way.
As a veteran in Internet/messaging protocol and platform development, I quickly understood the potential power of this premise. And I am privileged and pleased to say I have recently become Chair of the City Protocol technical effort.
Interoperable City Platform
The City Protocol will enable powerful solutions-development, and powerful learning within cities – all while crossing city siloes, and serving diverse city profiles.
The City Protocol will do this by enabling the creation of a platform to support the Internet of Cities. This platform will:
- Enable a city to sense and see itself, measure and manage itself, and evolve and transform itself;
- Enable diverse cities to deploy common and interoperable solutions, reducing cost and risk, and increasing solution choice; and
- Enable cities to compare and share, to learn and evolve together in both competitive and cooperative ways.
An Open and Global Process
The City Protocol will be developed through an open and global process of the City Protocol Task Force (CPTF). The CPTF was created, and is hosted, supported and empowered by the City Protocol Society (CPS), a non-profit community of institutional members including cities, commercial and non-profit organizations, universities and research institutions.
The CPS is organized under the premise that “the whole cycle of innovation can only be enabled by a solid, trust-based cross-sector partnership. It is only by bringing together the resources and strengths of all key stakeholders that cities will be able to meet the challenges they are faced with every day.” CPS invites city-focused institutions to join them as members in supporting this work.
The CPTF invites city-focused individuals from cities, from businesses, from universities and other organizations, and independent affiliation from around the world into this open and global community. Informed by the practices of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and grounded in the principles of Open-Stand, the CPTF will co-create – in collaboration with each other, and with other city-centered and standards-creating organizations – a series of “City Protocol Agreements”, or CPAs.
A Community of City-Focused Working Groups
In the CPTF, we call our CPA-creating working groups “Task-and-Finish-Teams” or TAFTs. The CPTF is further organized into “Thematic Areas” (TAs) which, together with the CP Technical Steering Committee (CPTSC), provide a systems integration view of, and guidance to, individual TAFT initiatives.
We are currently working on two foundational TAFT initiatives.
The “Anatomy of City Habitat” (internal acronym “ancha”) TAFT has created a City Anatomy framework which “describes the various inter-dependent systems that comprise a city, in generic, systemic, visual and comprehensive terms. “ It has just issued its first complete informational working draft (CPWD-I) and is seeking feedback from interested cities (see below).
The “Urban Metabolism Information Systems” (internal acronym “umis”) TAFT is just beginning its work, which will build upon the Anatomy by “developing a protocol for managing information in ways that make it easy to continuously track and draw ‘flows’ for the core urban subsystems.“
Many additional TAFTs are forming as we speak. Join our open forum and see what’s brewing!
Help us Evolve City Protocol’s “City Anatomy”
We have just completed a working draft of the City Anatomy informational CP Agreement. This first CPTF deliverable provides an organizing framework for the City Protocol. It creates a foundation upon which to build tools to support effective city governance, evaluation and transformation.
The City Anatomy offers a common language describing the city ecosystem as a set of physical Structures, the living entities that make up a city’s Society, and the Information flows between them. In so doing, it suggests an analogy to the human anatomy which further informs the vibrant dynamics of a city – think nervous system, circulatory system, digestive system and more.
Cities interested and willing to help us assess and evolve this working draft are invited to contact me at email@example.com. Meanwhile, all city-minded professionals anywhere are invited to join our open forum at the City Protocol Task Force. We’d love to hear from you!
As a contributor and sometimes leader in developing the innovation-serving Internet/open messaging platform we rely on today, I am personally pleased and privileged to directly support this process as Chair. And as a champion of cities – with the power and challenges that they hold – I am thrilled to have joined this community of knowledgeable and city-wise technical contributors.
Leave your comment below, or reply to others.
Please note that this comment section is for thoughtful, on-topic discussions. Admin approval is required for all comments. Your comment may be edited if it contains grammatical errors. Low effort, self-promotional, or impolite comments will be deleted.
Read more from MeetingoftheMinds.org
Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology
Housing that is affordable to low-income residents is often substandard and suffering from deferred maintenance, exposing residents to poor air quality and high energy bills. This situation can exacerbate asthma and other respiratory health issues, and siphon scarce dollars from higher value items like more nutritious food, health care, or education. Providing safe, decent, affordable, and healthy housing is one way to address historic inequities in community investment. Engaging with affordable housing and other types of community benefit projects is an important first step toward fully integrating equity into the green building process. In creating a framework for going deeper on equity, our new book, the Blueprint for Affordable Housing (Island Press 2020), starts with the Convention on Human Rights and the fundamental right to housing.
Since the Great Recession of 2008, the housing wealth gap has expanded to include not just Black and Brown Americans, but younger White Americans as well. Millennials and Generation Z Whites are now joining their Black and Brown peers in facing untenable housing precarity and blocked access to wealth. With wages stuck at 1980 levels and housing prices at least double (in inflation adjusted terms) what they were 40 years ago, many younger Americans, most with college degrees, are giving up on buying a home and even struggle to rent apartments suitable for raising a family.
What makes it hard for policy people and citizens to accept this truth is that we have not seen this problem in a very long time. Back in the 1920s of course, but not really since then. But this is actually an old problem that has come back to haunt us; a problem first articulated by Adam Smith in the 1700s.
More than ever, urban transit services are in need of sustainable and affordable solutions to better serve all members of our diverse communities, not least among them, those that are traditionally car-dependent. New mobility technologies can be a potential resource for local transit agencies to augment multi-modal connectivity across existing transit infrastructures.
We envision a new decentralized and distributed model that provides multi-modal access through nimble and flexible multi-modal Transit Districts, rather than through traditional, centralized, and often too expensive Multi-modal Transit Hubs. Working in collaboration with existing agencies, new micro-mobility technologies could provide greater and seamless access to existing transit infrastructure, while maximizing the potential of the public realm, creating an experience that many could enjoy beyond just catching the next bus or finding a scooter. So how would we go about it?