May 28, 2012

"Administrating" the City

What we understand by the management conception of the city is a rather top-down approach to city issues and adminitstration. Meaning that local governments' top-down vision can sometimes lead to ambiguous situations and more importantly implementations where the government ends up confronting its own residents.

This can be accurately observed in developing cities because they are forced upon following the imperative of economic growth while coping with basic needs. Urban development research has found that government authorities are investing massively in projects which lead to lop-sided development.

Mumbai is an archetipal example, as asserted by Dr. Andrew Harris' team (see below), of a city administration where people are not a part of the decision making process, creating a situation in which the development of a brand new metropolitan hub takes place at the cost of a basic necessity like water.

These unilateral ways of imagining and governing cities create divides and opposition within a city. In cities where the residents are given more opportunities to engage in the local government these historical tendencies are counter balanced.

More and more initiatives foster the collaboration between professionals, organizations and inhabitants. These, despite their fanciness, are rare examples of merging of ideas, conceptions and people in order to improve and foresee living in the city.

The future city game is a very good illustration of this attempt. Initiated via the Creative Cities Europe by the British Councilthis exercise connects professionals and residents in creating a future vision and map of their city.

This is an interesting conversational and democratic initiative, which local governments are trying to imbibe. However these are rare examples, and the local political structures are not flexible enough. Jacana projects aims at developing consensually decided and inspired enhancements in cities.

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