Welcome to dysturbia

From smart cities to designer ghettos

The evolution of society from villages, towns and cities to cities, suburbs and slums was well underway when two powerful forces shaping the future clashed head-on – rampant tech innovation and the impending climate crisis. Only a spark was needed to ignite the revolution.

The coronavirus pandemic provided the catalyst for people to re-examine their work and leisure lifestyles, and put the spotlight on the ridiculous habit of a daily commute in a world where technology made video meetings easier than a phone call, and global team collaboration was becoming simple and normal.

Networked infrastructure and mobility services meant that you didn’t need a private car, and anyway, cars are bad for the environment. Even electric cars need batteries, which means more mining. Planned communities that could be smart by design, and eco-friendly, were the answer. The 15-minute city was born, as “a real step towards the future.”

By 2022, projects like The Point, Utah and Culdesac, Arizona were underway, while Paris, France was also implementing 15-minute city principles in suitable neighbourhoods. As part of the ‘Great Reset’ it made perfect sense. Enclaves and residential estates sprang up, with their own schools, clinics, restaurants, social clubs, co-working spaces, and of course solar power and internet service. Together with crypto-based community levies and service fees, they became hyper-local governments.

It was inevitable that successful enclaves and desirable neighbourhood schemes thrived and flourished, while under resourced and disadvantaged communities have become run-down, neglected, and relying on city authorities whose tax base has shrunk. It’s beginning to dawn on the sociocrats that you can’t fix deep inequality or the climate by building mini-utopias for the middle classes.

Now those who can afford to are seeking self-sovereignty in the countryside, while it’s back to the drawing board for urban planners, wrestling with their increasingly dystopian suburbia. Will cities smarten up?

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

Despite appearances to the contrary, Futureworld cannot and does not predict the future. Our Mindbullets scenarios are fictitious and designed purely to explore possible futures, challenge and stimulate strategic thinking. Use these at your own risk. Any reference to actual people, entities or events is entirely allegorical. Copyright Futureworld International Limited. Reproduction or distribution permitted only with recognition of Copyright and the inclusion of this disclaimer.