City as a Grid

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page compiled by User:Florent 2008--2010


This transversal article is a mere attempt to isolate items of the emerging shapes of a globally, distributed p2p-oriented city model in a post-scarcity society.

It is intended as a placeholder for resources linked to a hypothetical City-as-a-grid model, where resource creation and distribution are done in such a way that the city is stable on local/proximity scale, yet scalable in a global, virtual scale.

Based on such a model, there seems to be a need for separating the local-scale variables from the global ones, the global one using the Internet or similar network to have reality. While reducing transportation costs and enforcing local manufacturing, it also is easier to maintain autonomy on local scale.

Being citizen in such a city would mean having two lifes: the local one, and the global one. The local being represented by the workforce needed for local autonomy, and the global for telework-powered immaterial, high level activities.

This model shares similarities to the Global Villages and Multi-local Societies, yet aims to have a more applied insight: trying to draw a draft.

Notions such as a part-time chore concept (citizen local participation), peer to peer learning, alternative currency models or the implications of 3D replication/printing technologies or of immersive telepresence (enabling telework) will be studied keys.

A wider goal for this project is to study the dynamics of the needed resources in conjunction with population evolution, of the local cost of the infrastructure per inhabitant, and to try estimating the progressive adoption potential.

Ultimately, the use of virtual worlds based technologies or role plays as simulation basis might help compare the discerned approaches and notions impacts.

P2PFoundation Links


Local flows

Amongst resources, primal needs generation and distribution (food, energy, chores, computing, essential jobs...), commonly needed dispenses (tools sharing, maintenance fees, ...) and critical skills (medicine, teaching) would be distributed in a geographical way, allowing slow and progressive, renewable expansion.

  • local needs
    • primal needs
    • essential skills
    • community expenses
    • community chores
  • local resources
    • community decision making
    • power generation
    • essential food generation
    • natural resources
    • community buildings
      • hardware manufacturing facilities
      • hardware storage: common goods lending store, post office
      • elementary school
      • associations buildings
      • farms

Global flows

The more technology advances, the more aspects of it can be shared and distributively developped. For instance, the day 3D printers come into our homes, it will be possible to apply open-source models to physical goods as well ! This means, a lot of the industry could be dematerialized. Virtual reality, telepresence, 3D printing, computer-assisted-design are key elements to this evolution.

Example workflow: engineers -> CAD -> 3D printing -> assembling

However, a LOT of things will not be doable using 3D printers, so bigger facilities will be needed, notably for producing the bootstrapping elements.

  • global needs
    • critical bootstrapping hardware manufacturing
    • global virtual infrastructure (communication/energy/transportation) with load balancing and fault-tolerance
    • incentive mecanisms
    • primal goods production (used for goods manufacturing)
  • global resources
    • teleworking
    • telelearning

Distributive vectors

All these categories represent a component in the city life that may (or not!) be distributed:

  • currency models
  • trade model
  • ownership model
  • reputation model
  • incentive model

Overlay physical networks

  • common goods network (commonly-owned items or resources, local or global)
  • smart energy network
  • communication network
  • transportation and goods delivery (a single, modular transportation system)

Overlay social networks

  • community network
    • common needs network
    • common resources network
    • common knowledge network
    • community bank
  • personal networks
    • professional network
    • family/friends network
    • associative network


  • Cell: atomic entity representing the smallest, partially autonomous system.
  • community "chores"
    • cell council
    • recycling/garbage handling
    • city maintenance
  • housing doesn't necessarily HAVE to be owned by people: there are so many people renting their houses already...
  • his parallel economy can keep interacting with other models by exchanging manufactured goods or services. The monetary value gained being invested in the communities themselves (not the individual).
  • the punctual needs (e.g.: "i need a hammer for 10 hours") could be addressed by a community-available resource, possibly on a global scale (using a transportation system to send the lended item)
  • collective "buyings" could be fired when requests are important enough on a geographical proximity
  • Progressive bootstrapping : every new home should be bringing enough resources to counter-balance it's consumption at the cell scale. This can be seen as a community giving
  • the community activities could be timely rotated
  • houses could be traded
  • value/price/score should be dependant on:
    • f(1/ecological impact)
    • f(1/demand): e.g., a community activity's rating should be inverted to the demand (the more a job is asked, the less it gives peer points)
    • happiness/usefulness contribution level (reputation)

Related resources

  1. Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy envisions a composite (both manufacturial and culturally segmented) society model emergence during Mars' terraforming and colonization. It is a highly automated society whose economy was based on caloric input/output and had few materials valued based on their scarcity, thus bearing some similarities to technocratic ideas.
  2. The Mondragon Corporation is a federation of worker cooperatives based in the Basque region of Spain. Founded in the town of Mondragón in 1956, its origin is linked to the activity of a modest technical college and a small workshop producing paraffin heaters. Currently it is the seventh largest Spanish company in terms of turnover and the leading business group in the Basque Country. At the end of 2008 it was providing employment for 92,773 people working in 256 companies in four areas of activity: Finance, Industry, Retail and Knowledge. The MONDRAGON Co-operatives operate in accordance with a business model based on People and the Sovereignty of Labour, which has made it possible to develop highly participative companies rooted in solidarity, with a strong social dimension but without neglecting business excellence. The Co-operatives are owned by their worker-members and power is based on the principle of one person, one vote

Simulation Games

Using Open Source Code to create Simulation Games including Distributed Infrastructure ?

SimCity goes open source as "Micropolis" :