The Future of Cities, Information, and Inclusion


Over the next decade, cities will continue to grow larger and more rapidly. At the same time, new technologies will unlock massive streams of data about cities and their residents. As these forces collide, they will turn every city into a unique civic laboratory—a place where technology is adapted in novel ways to meet local needs. This ten-year forecast map, The Future of Cities, Information, and Inclusion, charts the important intersections between urbanization and digitalization that will shape this global urban experiment, and the key tensions that will arise.

The explosive growth of cities is an economic opportunity with the potential to lift billions out of poverty. Yet the speed of change and lack of pro-poor foresight has led to a swarm of urban problems—poor housing conditions, inadequate education and health care, and racial and ethnic inequalities. The coming decade holds an opportunity to harness information to improve government services, alleviate poverty and inequality, and empower the poor. Key uncertainties are coming into view:


  • What economic opportunities will urban information provide to excluded groups?
  • What new exclusions might arise from new kinds of data about the city and its citizens?
  • How will communities leverage urban information to improve service delivery, transparency, and citizen engagement?

As information technology spreads beyond the desktop into every corner of citizens' lives, it will provide a new set of tools for poor and excluded groups to re-engineer their relationship with government, the built environment, and each other. 

Funded by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, IFTF has identified this challenge—harnessing data for development and inclusion—as a critical cross-sectoral urban issue for the next decade and beyond.

the Forecast Map (PDF)

View and download related presentations


Visual Recordings: Presentation and Roundtable Discussions, December 16, 2010, Rockefeller Foundation

View Visual Recordings

Cities, information and inclusion. McKinsey and Company

Final Report (PDF)

Presentation (PDF)

A Planet of Civic Laboratories. Anthony Townsend and Rachel Maguire, Institute for the Future

Report (PDF)
View on prezi

Data Optimism. Laura Kurgan and Sarah Williams, Spatial Information Design Lab

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