What does it mean to design urban technology?


Urban Technology is an emerging field at the intersection of technology, urbanism, and design. This is where apps, devices, and organizations are created with the aim of making cities better for all people. It focuses on creating digitally-powered products and services that impact the way cities are perceived, constructed, and inhabited. This field encompasses a wide range of areas, including funding, business models, policy positions, and risk attitudes. The goal of urban technology is to transition urban life to a state where computation and network connectivity are the norm, rather than the exception. This can be referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution or the Anthropocene. Designers in this field work to create transdisciplinary collaborations that combine the best aspects of urban design and technology to build a world without fossil fuels, systemic racism, and want. They play an important role in creating technology that enhances the overall livability of cities and improves the quality of life for residents and visitors.

As the built environment is increasingly digitized and instrumented, new data streams and thus feedback loops emerge that make previously ignored waste, disparity, and discrimination difficult to ignore. When we see the world differently, we act differently—one hopes! While building urban technologies involves new hardware and software to be created, computer scientists alone cannot reimagine urban life any more than architects or urban planners can reimagine the digital. Creating urban technologies that truly enrich life for the many requires new collaboration across, between, through, and over the disciplines of industrial society. Examples include but are not limited to:

a. Transit agencies using artificial intelligence to predict demand, thus making the bus more convenient and reducing carbon emissions.

b. Streetlights connected to the Internet allow cities to keep up with maintenance and ensure that the lights stay on. 

Reflective Analysis

While most of my articles mainly focused on human-centered design, I did not explore the possibilities of technologies despite mentioning them every time I was asked about. I worked on the nuances to better specify my research topics, such as filtering my research topic further using technology, this is where I came to know about Urban Technology, a field in its nascent stage. In the past, I did suffer from articulating my thoughts related to it, and I often found myself asking the question, “How do I implement technology in my design research?” I believe there are so many opportunities to understand how technology can contribute to addressing urban issues, and with the help of a proper business model.


Boyer, B. (2022, January 25). What does it mean to design urban technology? Medium. https://uxdesign.cc/what-does-it-mean-to-design-urban-technology-10859a848b22