Clearly, the combination of internal migration and population growth will place a unique stress on India's urban infrastructure. Already, plenty of work has been done on the resilience of physical infrastructure: the channels of water supply, sanitation, and power. But what of the city's 'soft' infrastructure; the immaterial flows of data and social relations?
Similarly, if one mapped all these other 'wallahs and wallihs' – the men and women who offer informal services – moving about the city, creating mobile data nodes, the city's map might look something like this:
You see how these various actors emerge as points of influence, rather than specific service providers. This could be a local map of soft services and networks, rich in meaning and value for the people who live there.
Planners, businesses, entrepreneurs and service providers need to recognise the worth of these ‘informal’ networks and services. Though not always operating at the peak of efficiency, these networks are a lifeline of human stories and intangible value – site of relational exchange, rather than simple transactions.
As part of this project, we lead workshops on Prospecting Near-Future Cities, guiding participants to explore alternative urban strategies and prototype designs, scenarios and ideas.
Currently, we are working with planners, technologists and entrepreneurs to further explore this nexus of ideas. If you are a brand, NGO, or public institution with a stake in the future of open, creative cities, and would be interested in partnering on this project, we would love to hear from you.