Globally, cities are undergoing a paradigm shift, moving towards the convergence of digital information (bits) and the physical environment (bricks). From utilities to transportation, and construction to environmental preparedness, the 21st century promises both challenges and opportunities for cities. On 22nd April 2016, the MIT Senseable City Lab (a research initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology), in partnership with Mahindra Group and in collaboration with World Bank Group and The World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the Future of Cities, convened the BITS&BRICKS Forum on Future Cities. Held at the MIT Campus in Massachusetts, the forum witnessed participation and conversations by global leaders of industry, research, metropolitan governance and citizens at large.
Anita Arjundas, Managing Director, Mahindra Lifespaces, was a panelist and speaker at the forum to discuss new approaches to the future of cities across the globe. Anita spoke of the India perspective of the built environment, focusing on how 70 percent of urban India is yet to be built and a rapidly urbanizing country such as ours needs solutions at a multi-tiered level encompassing buildings, communities and cities. On the buildings front, Anita delved into the impact on riverine ecosystems of the use of sand - the 2nd largest natural resource after water – and the solutions implemented by Mahindra Lifespaces towards conservation of this natural resource. She addressed the need for access to housing in the context of accelerating urbanisation in India and growth drivers to enable access to affordable housing. With respect to cities, the focus was on how urban renewal was important, but the development of new, sustainable urban centers equally so, and Mahindra Lifespaces’ approach to the same. Anita also touched upon how cities can look at reprogramming existing spaces, with a special focus on policy and building and digital technology to facilitate multiple uses of the same space.
Other speakers at the forum included Joan Clos - Executive Director, UN-Habitat; Kees van der Klauw - Senior Vice President, Phillips; and Martin J. Walsh - Mayor, City of Boston.
Here is the glimpse of the event: