Better Information, Better Cities | Next American City
As a curator at the National Building Museum (NBM), Susan Piedmont-Palladino spends her days enticing the public to think critically about the built environment. In her past exhibitions “Green Community” and “Tools of the Imagination,” the trained architect studied the use of new technologies in our design of and interaction with urban places. Now Piedmont-Palladino is at the helm of Intelligent Cities, a multipronged effort that “explores the intersection of information technology and urban design to understand where we are, where we want to be, and how to get there.” The project, supported by NBM partners Time and IBM and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, uses the museum’s website and social networking tools to gather public input with the purpose of gauging collective attitudes toward the built environment — ranging from the home to the city to the region and the nation. This June the museum will convene experts, officials and the public at the museum to discuss the results and how to apply them in cities; the museum will also publish a book and stage an exhibition to reveal the project’s findings. Here, Piedmont-Palladino offers a preview of the early results.
What are the goals of the Intelligent Cities initiative, and why did the NBM decide to pursue it?
Our mission is educating the public about the value of the built environment. This project sits well with our goals because it lets us think about the means and methods of educating the public, and how that works differently for people who come to the museum and those we reach through different media. The Intelligent Cities initiative is letting us really think about what’s at stake: How do we communicate with people about the full range of the built environment, from the living room to the infrastructure of the nation? The point we’re making is that we’ll all make better decisions if we have better information.