One of the most effective ways to encourage change in our cities is to run a pilot. I think people find comfort in knowing that if chaos ensues, things can be easily reversed. So that is exactly what Phoenix has been doing with its “cool pavement” pilot program; what Seattle did (or is doing) with electric scooters; and what Toronto is doing with the pedestrianization of Market Street. Let’s try it out and see how things go.
But there are other options emerging beyond just physical pilots. Better Streets AI, for example, is using artificial intelligence to instantly transform streets and give people an idea of what might be possible. If you haven’t yet seen any of these images, I would encourage you to check out their Twitter account. The rendered images aren’t hyper-realistic, but they are instant and they are all magically generated by a computer.
As these sorts of tools become more sophisticated and widespread, it isn’t a stretch to imagine them having an impact on the way we think about and plan our cities. And I think that will happen. They also get me excited about the potential of augmented reality (which is something that interests me a lot more than full VR). Being able to quickly and accurately pilot the future is a powerful thing.