• Master Plans and Dystopian Realities

    The emerging coherence of smart and democratic cities
  • The Ideal City

    Master Plans and Dystopian Realities

Master Plans and Dystopian Realities

Ideal Cities

The emerging coherence of smart and democratic cities

The purpose of this event is to highlight a convergence of trends in the rapidly expanding ‘smart cities’ movement. Trends that recognize the need for science and democracy across all domains of urban life. As work on the smart cities of the future iterates, what does a blueprint of an ideal city look like, and what are the higher order principles that must be built in?

This Ideal Cities event will lean into the Platonic concept of master planning, launching a Socratic inquiry into the design and planning for the ‘ideal city’, encompassing the concepts of human virtue, justice and enlightened governance. The term ‘smart city’ will be expanded to this broader contextual framework, with the aim of ‘seeing things whole’, to enable a greater coherence of thought about the urban knowledge domain. With the ideal plans and dystopian realities of today’s metropolis; looking through the lens of justice and ethics, identity and culture, space and boundaries, technology and data, governance and politics, health and education, economic influences and individual agency, we will converge our thinking on the following:

= In our plans for an Ideal City, how is justice, human virtue and enlightened governance manifested?
= How do we integrate and plan for social and environmental resilience in cities?
= What is the role of technology and data in adaptive strategies?
= How does the ideal city define and express our social contract?
= How do we reconcile this social contract with marginalized or disadvantaged communities?
= How do our systems of governance limit or expand our agency?
= How does collaborative consumption and the sharing economy serve the Ideal City?
= How are the cities of the future planning for the Ideal?
= What are our best plans for the Ideal City? 


Gabor Betegh
Laurence Professor of Ancient Philosophy, at Cambridge University
, is the author of The Derveni Papyrus (2004) and studies on a wide range of topics from early Greek cosmology and theology to Hellenistic philosophy.

Jill Harris
Policy and Strategy Counsel to Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and the Director of the DA’s Justice 2020 Initiative. Formerly Deputy Director of the ACLU’s Campaign for Smart Justice, Managing Director of Policy and Strategic Initiatives at the Drug Policy Alliance and a public defender at the Legal Aid Society. 

Alexander Shermansong 
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Public Service of NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.  He is also the CEO of Civic Consulting USA where he enables mayors to collaborate pro bono with companies and get results with lasting impact.  The White House selected Civic Consulting to work with economically distressed cities nationally. 


Kazuhiko Ito
Director of Environmental Research and Senior Environmental Epidemiologist, Bureau of Environmental Surveillance and Policy, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Major contributor to the weather and air pollution epidemiological studies in New York and other U.S. cities. His research interest includes the spatial variation of air pollution using the data from New York City Community Air Survey, (NYCCAS) and disparities in the adverse health impacts of weather and air pollution across neighborhoods in the city. Kazuhiko’s publications can be found here.

Devyn Humphrey
Chief of Staff with Axis Talent Partners, Devyn started her career in the legal field as an attorney representing school boards in tenure dismissals and special education disputes before joining the Achievement First Charter School network and has spent time working for the NYC Government in education and housing. Axis is a talent search and strategy firm that works with education and social justice organizations and specifically focuses on identifying people of color for senior leadership positions.



Kian Tajbakhsh
Author, The Promise of the City, Visiting Professor of Urban Planning, Columbia University, is an international expert in the areas of local government reform, urban planning, civil society capacity building and international public policy research collaboration. He has also directed international projects in the areas of public health and social policy. Tajbakhsh’s academic research spans both theoretical and policy projects related to the culture of urbanism as well as the governance of cities and metropolitan regions.  

 Jackie Lu
Director of Analytics, New York City Department of Parks, Division of Innovation and Performance Management. Jackie leads an agency-level initiative to bring analytics and data science to NYC Parks to improve operations and service delivery. Managing the Parks’ first data analytics unit, collaborating with divisions to develop insights, enable data-informed decisions and increase efficiency.


Tapan Parikh
Associate Professor in the department of Information Science at Cornell Tech. His research includes HCI and the design and evaluation of information technologies for education, governance and international development. Information on research, projects and courses can be found at his website


Masoud Ghandehari
Associate Professor of Urban Systems Engineering at New York University. His research is focused on the application of advanced urban data acquisition and analytics. He is interested in multidisciplinary research developing taxonomy and platforms for addressing complex interdependent phenomena in cities across physical, ecological and human systems. He is active in field research and collaborations with the industry and government sectors.


How you can engage: We invite your participation before the event, to express the questions or issues you would like addressed in the panel discussion you can send your comments in advance, either as text or as an audio recording to idealcityinfo@gmail.com, and let us know if you would like it posted on the “Perspectives” page. You can also post your comments there directly.

April 9th, 2018, Reception 5:00 pm, discussion 5:30 – 7:30 pm

Auditorium at the Brooklyn Tech Hub, 2nd floor, 370 Jay Street, Brooklyn, New York

For further information contact idealcityinfo@gmail.com