Telecommunications technologies and urban development: strategies in US cities
by John B. Horrigan, Robert H. Wilson
International Journal of Technology, Policy and Management (IJTPM), Vol. 2, No. 3, 2002

Abstract: Telecommunications systems have become a critical component of today's economy. The rapid pace of technological change in telecommunications and its pervasive effect on economic geography complicate our understanding of this evolving industry and its potential for development strategies. Since the demand for telecommunications services is positively correlated with urban size, a substantial impact on cities and urban form is expected. One question that emerges is whether cities can successfully formulate strategies which are likely to make them more attractive sites for telecom-intensive businesses. The role played by information and telecommunications in the emerging economy is discussed, followed by consideration of the impacts of telecommunications on economic geography, particularly in cities. Then two specific questions are examined. Firstly, are cities developing telecommunications strategies that complement existing economic specialisation, for example in manufacturing, or targeted and emerging industries? Secondly, what role will telecommunications advances play in efforts to promote dense downtown development aimed at the New Economy? The paper finds that cities are developing ''social network'' strategies for economic development that seek to develop a critical mass of innovative ideas and direct capital to those new ideas. The social network strategies are tailored to existing economic strengths that, city development officials hope, can be enhanced by new communications technologies. The social network strategies are also tightly linked with programmes to promote dense downtown development, suggesting that in some places the New Economy may revitalise central city areas. Urban patterns will likely be rearranged, but cities, as clusters of innovation, will remain for some time as the primary centres of economic activity.

Online publication date: Mon, 18-Aug-2003

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