Welcome to Urban-3.0, the Synergistic Toolkit and the Deeper City – a forum and demo site for the upcoming generation of cities, economies, ecologies and societies…

The book is coming out (finally!!) in May 2020 – Deeper City (Routledge)

But first… how does the Urban-3.0 work in the worst global health crisis for 100 years??   How do we turn crisis into opportunity?? Here are first thoughts, or see the full report on –  Pandemic 3.0 – from crisis to transformation

alternative futures

Pandemic-3.0 – from crisis to transformation.

At terrifying speed the Covid-19 global pandemic has brought a multitude of deaths, the lock-down of half the world’s population, and the decimation of its economy. The material facts of this disaster bring hard lessons in disaster management, public services and social inequality, which will keep experts and analysts busy for a generation to come.

But here I would like to open up a forward look on the massive transformations now in motion, negative and positive – and explore questions on what kind of pathways could help steer from one kind of outcome to another.

In such global crisis, challenges such climate change or rampant inequality are not going to disappear overnight. In reality they seem more likely to magnify up, as new forms of power and wealth and hierarchy emerge. If this pandemic can be contained or resolved, then we can get back to work on these challenges and others: but if it continues (as seems likely) to be messy and divisive, or indeed as the next pandemic arrives, then we face new challenges alongside the old.

The sketches below shows three angles on this global crisis of critical danger and opportunity. They start with the saying ‘never let a good crisis go to waste’ – and then ask, if new systems of Mode-III social-political-economic cooperation can emerge from this crisis, how to let these grow and flourish? And how to counter or bypass the forces of ‘winner takes all’ populism, of exclusion and intolerance, hijack of truth and expropriation of livelihoods?

This is a brief sketch for a planet-sized challenge, which draws on current thinking on ‘collective intelligence and the pathways from smart to wise’. This is hopefully enough to start a line of thinking which connects the current crisis with potential pathways – and if this crisis can be resolved, then to better prepare for the next….


Scenarios – unknowns or unknowables?

At this moment it’s an unknown whether the Covid-19 virus epidemiology can be contained, or continues to multiply or re-emerge: but it’s a deeper kind of unknown as to how social and economic and political systems interact with this epidemiology. It’s also a deeper unknown (perhaps ‘unknowable’), whether or not social-economic-political systems could return to the old normal, or transform towards some kind of ‘new normal’. So we need to map out the combinations, as possible ‘what-if’ scenarios, each with a mix of danger and opportunity. Here in Figure 1 is a basic map of alternative futures: –

– ‘new panarchy’: we ask, what-if progress is resumed and the pandemic solved, while staying vigilant for the next one? Meanwhile there is deeper and wider learning from the 2020 episode, and a serious agenda to look beyond old-style hierarchies and extractive systems.
– ‘business as usual’: as the general direction of most official prospectives (OECD, MGI etc) this simply looks to the other side of the pandemic, and aims to reconstruct the familiar game of techno-capitalist-materialist production and consumption.
– ‘real virtuality’: here everything has changed, with technology as the enabler for hyper-networked- isolationists, a new normal of video-holograms, decontamination suits and sterile pods. While humans are endlessly adaptable, this future brings huge challenges for individuals and communities, and maybe opportunities.
– ‘lock-down’: a familiar techno-dystopia of ‘Blade-runner’ surveillance / disaster capitalism. Here the ongoing pandemic and its effects of disruption and trauma, is an open door for power-mongers and warlords who merge with the tech corporates. The graphic shows how ‘safe zones’ can easily turn into exclusion and oppression.

It gets interesting, as it emerges these scenarios are not only neutral visions of a possible distant future – they are more like active and contested grabbing of the present and near future (about a week at the time of writing). It also gets more interesting to explore the scenarios not as distinct and separate, more like different angles on a chaotic bundle of deeper realities.

(for more see the full paper…)