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Technology’s Impact On The Urban Landscape

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Urban landscapes are in a constant state of flux. Changing habits, perceptions, economic conditions and lifestyle preferences all play a role in this flux, which is often generalized as a move from ‘city living’ to ‘suburb living’ or vise-versa. During the latter half of the 20th century, migrations cycles from city to suburbs and back again remained consistent occurring on average every 10-15 years. Though as we entered the 21st century, migration has become balanced between cities and suburbs. While still relatively new, this balancing may largely be due to the advancement of technology.

In the 20th century, people had little choice but to migrate to where the jobs were. This resulted in populations following corporations who were looking for the lowest corporate rent or lowest corporate taxes that might be in the cities one decade and in the suburbs the next. With the rise of 24/7 connectivity, many jobs can now be performed from a home office or location convenient for the employee. This in turn allows the employee to live in a location of their choice, whether that be a city, suburb or the country. Similarly, with the growth of e-commerce, consumers no longer have to be close to the store of their favorite fashion designer or mall to get the products they want. All they need is a computer, laptop or smart phone with internet access.

In a recent post on “Investor”, Byron Carlock takes a look at new technology’s impact how we will build the cities and suburbs of the future. While e-commerce has made purchasing a product from anywhere a reality, the in-store experience is still a vital factor for over 30% of the population. Though with fewer ‘in-person’ shoppers, large malls and giant superstores are no longer needed and are giving way to newer, smaller stores. Mr. Carlock also discusses the pending introduction of self-driving cars and the prediction that this technology will reduce the number of cars on the road by upwards of 40%. With fewer cars on the road, cities and suburbs alike will require fewer parking lots and garages, freeing up land for city planners to put to better use for their residents.

How do you see technology changing your city, suburb or town? Has technology saved you from having to relocate to a new city or town when you received a promotion or went to work for a new company?

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