The Existence and Survival of Cities versus IT Movement

Earnest Burgess (1925), Chauncy Harris, Edward Ullman and Mekenzie (1945) and Homer Hoyt (1939 are few theorist that are universally reckoned with as regarding the analysis of cities, its structure and growth. However, due to the low level of development then, technology wise and beyond, the present day heavy impact of the IT revolution wasn’t inculcated in their analysis and envisagement.  Albeit a few sociologist and environmental academics have made attempt in weighing the effect of the IT movement  as compared with the existence and survival of cities and the reasons that birthed them.

Cities as seen from its evolution over years evolved from means to meet the need people in general. In prospect of meeting needs, quite a number of ideas, strategies, introduction, and services and so on came into existence. However, the cities are noted with characteristics like large number of people, heavy transportation system, high employment opportunities, education, congestion and influx of people, institution and secretariats, industries, trading centres, exhibition centres and so on because of all of the these evolve around meeting man’s need which also gave way for specialisation to come and stay as also an attribute or cities.

Traditionally or historically, the emergence of cities is a process which gradually grew out of geographical nodes where people strive to meet all their needs with what they have and from where they resided. The immediate geographical units where cities actually often evolved from were, to major extent, favoured by the natural attributes of such geographical location. These natural factors may include rivers, climatic conditions, topography, natural resources, and physical features like rocks forest etcetera located around such areas. The natural endowments of nature gave the then dwellers something to start/ live with and in constant quest of meeting all their needs, they engaged their brain in more constrictive thoughts. The advent of development of European, American, and the British countries as regard trading, production, transportation culminated into the development of most today developing countries.

Trading is or can be seen as a major factor in processes of city emergence right from rigid and Stone Age trade by barter method to the present computerised system of the 21st Century. In response to  meeting up with the demands of trade in the light  of fairness, flexibility, transparency, ease of transaction, fastness , equality, trade records and what-a-view; these reasons have being huge contributors in the development of the present city environment.

The advent of these major authorities had quite a significant change to developing nation thoughts and the way things were done. Hence, more diverse and specialised ways of meeting a man needs came into play and the farm/ nomadic way, commercial, industrial, transport, computerised/ information Technology (IT) age integrated into one another.

The fusion of all of these development gave rise to the cities we have today, though still of different sizes. It is important to say different geographical units then (now present cities) had different natural endowments at different proportion and which can be said to be accountable for the difference in the rate, size, pattern, prospect etcetera of city development but the transportation development came into bridge substantial gap among these difference in the spatial distribution of cities and sustained the city as we have it today.

Meeting needs is the striking platform of which cities is said to be created and transportation was prominent mean through which goods and services are conveyed to the end users to meet his needs. It is established fact that everybody has a need he wants to react out for or to but transportation solely had been their means of reaching their needs because of the then technology level until the introduction of phones, internet in this later era. It is obvious or deducible that on a one on one basis, this can be seen as threat posed to transportation and its validity or level of its relevance over the years and the years to come. Hence the IT age came in and affected, to a wide-spread extent, the two major activities that keep man in touch with his needs i.e. production and transportation. The objective of a product and services is to meet up with end user’s need(s). But then, the way it reaches and works for each person is also quite important and this is a factor the present technology has come to work with.

Personally, the IT system is more of an abstract/ intangible system and its continuous operation is leaning towards converting or modifying as much physical or ‘real’ (face-to-face) things or service rendering system that exists to ‘unreal’ or intangible system as expressed in the digital or graphics and electronic ways and experienced in the e-transaction vices, emails, and phones, online videos, and channels advanced computerised programmes and so on. Hence man doesn’t need to physically in touch with the ‘reals’ to acknowledge what he wants or be present in person in his services unit to perform. Instead, he even access and know what he wants to know or be present in person in his service unit to perform. Instead, he can even access and know what he wants to know with the present level of graphics computerisation like 3dimensional and 4 dimensional screen projections, advanced simulation system, holographic projections and so on. More so, the internet has made it easier to send thing across the world against the rigid post mail system which involves moving (transportation) from one place to the other.

Hence, the need to stay in the city in an attempt to be in proximity to man’s need has now been augmented as people can now stay at different part of the country or world and still perform their activities, through the internet services.

Therefore, with the present day technology, one can say that computing will reduce commuting, as everyone starts to work at home or at their local neighbourhood cybercafé, thus setting setting foot in a car for office resumption purposes again. Robert Fishman, in his book, Bourgeois Utopias, goes so far as to say that information technology has ‘completely superseded the face to face contact of the transitional city’, thus rendering such contact obsolete. This means, however, not just that car use would in theory is reduced, but that employees would be able to live further and further afield, a green field.  But is such contact ‘obsolete?  In his book Edge city, Joel Garreau Observes: Humans sill put an over whelming premium on face to face contact. Telephones, fax machines, electronic mail, and video-conferencing all share a problem; they do not produce intense relationship a market thrives for bringing people together physically.

In corollary, in as much as the IT has a given some tangible economy reasons for people who live far away yet get their work done but not all  activities/ involvement in production and serviced rendering can be channelled through this IT vices. What happens if one needs to visit a relaxation park or stadium or concert? Thus there yet to tackled social reasons why cities will surely survive and exist. Man is in fact first social before economical. The ‘Live’ effect of human meeting one another can’t is not that one can easily put a price tag on and relatively cannot be compromised.


Moreover, those declaring the death of the city must re-examine the assumptions upon which they pass sentence. Saskia Sassen, Dutch-American sociologist , has demonstrated in her challenging studies; mass developments in the telecommunications and ascendance of information industries have led analyst and politicians to proclaim that place(particularly the type of place represented by cities) no longer matters. These trends represent only half of what is happening. Alongside the well document spatial dispersal of economic activities, new forms of territorial centralisation of top level management and control operations have appeared. National and global markets require places where the work of globalisation gets done. The ‘places’ according to Sassen’s research are often the old cities others have dismissed as obsolete.  Her view, which takes into account the material base of information technology’s dematerialised  product, is a necessary  counterbalance to the fashionable orthodoxy of total ephemerality , and present economic reasons for concentration, rather than the usual social ones ( The desire for face-to-face contact and for urban culture). She further said ‘Those within environmentalism hoping that information technology will cause our troublesome cities to wither away seem to be hoping in vain’.

 In conclusion, cities would continue to exist because it was built on a platform of meeting needs which is ultimately an undying reason for its existence. IT evolved in from attempts to meet human needs which also described part of the city objectives. It can only be said that the pattern of city growth will be metamorphosized or shirked to fit into the present characteristics and demands of the city- perhaps, the birth of ‘hi-tech cities’.

Thank you



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