San Jose’s Plan to Become a “Smart City”

san jose

To grow up and not out, San Jose needs to get smarter (with more tech)

Digital Trends, April 19 ,2015. Image credit: tpsdave

As the tenth largest city in the United States and the heart of Silicon Valley, it should come as no surprise that San Jose, California is booming. The city expects to see its population grow 33 percent by 2040.

Envision San Jose 2040 General Plan and Green Vision is the city’s blueprint for smart growth in the years ahead. It sets some ambitious goals, including creating 25,000 clean tech jobs, achieving “zero waste” by converting it into energy, and reducing energy use per capita by 50 percent, all by the year 2022.

Part of the plan to keep things contained involves creating “urban villages”; instead of plopping in a strip mall as residential areas become densely packed, these are thoughtfully designed mini-cities that contain everything a resident could need, including a place to work. Shopping, dining, entertainment, culture, public transit, and business are all within walking or biking distance of where you live. The idea is to make your community so fantastic, you never want (or need) to hop in your car.

It may not be the first thing people think of when they hear the term “smart city,” but it’s an essential piece of creating a city where people actually want to live. And while all those factors — the layout, the technology, the green initiatives — are plannable, there’s an essential ingredient that is not. “We cannot underestimate, as urban planners, the sense of community and entrepreneurship that people want to develop by themselves,” Gartner research vice president Bettina Tratz-Ryan tells Digital Trends. “They don’t want to have that handed to them, because that creativity is the hub of how cities will thrive.”

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