The Future of Urban Tech: A Ten-Year Horizon Scan

Self-repairing roads and sewers. Forests and farms inside buildings. Software that follows our instructions rather than following us around. These are just some of the possibilities and pitfalls for urban tech in the decade ahead. This site is a kaleidoscope that lets you explore future breakthroughs, innovations, and applications that will reshape our cities and communities.

The Future of Urban Tech: A Ten-Year Horizon Scan was developed for Cornell Tech’s Urban Tech Hub as an interactive knowledge graph distilling thousands of published sources—journals, news sites, and blogs—to identify the most important changes ahead.

Six big stories forecast the decade ahead.

The big bubbles at the center of our map are our topline forecasts. Think of these as the front page stories you might read on a news site in 2032. They describe the big directions of change that will shape the journey ahead for everyone.

Three forecasts describe the transformation of “hard” urban systems. Supercharged Infrastructure will rewire the city into a deep, actionable web. Wild + Well cities will tap advanced biotechnologies to take livability to new heights. And Resilient Corridors will amplify our efforts to halt climate change and prepare communities for the inevitable shocks to come.

Three more forecasts unpack deep conflicts in “soft” urban systems. Dark Plans designed and enforced by software will shape cities in strange new ways. This will trigger a backlash, giving rise to a New Screen Deal that redistributes the risks and rewards of urban tech. Meanwhile, a planetary scale supply chain for city-making technologies will take shape as Urban Innovation Industrializes.

Watch Anthony Townsend explain the project and then explore the Horizon Scan.