Dec 7, 2011

Dilemma of Technology: Resistance to adoption of emerging Urban Infrastructure Technology

By- Anoop Jha

Choice between proven technologies of past & tempting future technology

Lifespan of any particular technology is so short that people tend to miss many steps of development. Take for example, cell phones - by the time people know that a new sophisticated technology has arrived in market and they make up their mind to go for it, they realize that a more advanced version of similar technology is waiting around the corner, which is going to make the present technology outdated very soon. This ever-changing flux of development makes it harder to make a choice. Though the pace of change varies across the sectors and scale of operation, but is an inevitable phenomenon of 21st century. And its acceleratingly fast.

Can we match the pace of planning with the fast pace of technological changes? Can we afford replacing urban infrastructure at the pace we replace our cell phone or laptop? So when we plan an urban infrastructure today with age old technological components there is always a fear that very soon this infrastructure and technology is going to be obsolete, and some new method, technology, or component will be in market, and by that time it would be too late and expensive to replace the installed infrastructure, take example of any emerging technology which is going to take over old one like – Faster building Lifts, Gas insulated Switchgears, Online UV Treatment of Water, Vacuum based waste disposal, District Cooling, SCADA, Automated MLP, ever growing sophisticated Surveillance technology, etc.

The challenge for planners is to choose between the age old proven infrastructure technology and latest or upcoming advanced technology. The problem here is the additional cost of new technology as well as unproven lifespan and performance of technology during its lifespan.

Role of an Urban Planner in the light of technological advancement is to plan a flexible, scalable, and modular state of art sustainable infrastructure, which further allows a smooth transition to the next functional technology in course of time with the minimum intervention, effort, time and cost. 
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