A New Approach to Designing Smart Cities
David Galbraith

To begin with: “Let us sit down!”

The best way to kill a new urban center is to succumb to (I guess) “security protocols” and minimize the outdoor public seating arrangements, in order to discourage “loitering”.

Per Dictionary.com:

verb (used without object)
1. to linger aimlessly or as if aimless in or about a place:
to loiter around the bus terminal.
2. to move in a slow, idle manner, making purposeless stops in the course of a trip, journey, errand, etc.: to loiter on the way to work.
3. to waste time or dawdle over work:
4. to pass (time) in an idle or aimless manner (usually followed by away):
to loiter away the afternoon in daydreaming.

Per the Los Angeles Police Department web site:

“Don’t allow loitering. Loitering simply means people hanging around your place of business, inside or outside, without buying anything.
Loitering is a serious problem, if left unchecked, it can:
Discourage customers from coming to your place of business.
Lead to harassment and other problems.
Create a bad image for your business.”

Ok, people, then why did the city of Redlands California have such success revitalizing their city-center, by completely closing off the main street and making it pedestrian-only all the way across, down the five-block retail segment?

It became a casual oasis, completely shaded with seating enough for any sized lunchtime crowd, either at the many outdoor restaurant tables or the numerous long and circular city-provided benches. Yeah, folks were “hanging around”; they were moving in a slow, idle manner, probably wasting a lot of time before returning to work. And they would return to the same place, to enjoy the same privilege, day after day after day.

But yes, they bought things. They buy things. Oh, do they buy things. They come back after work, and buy things. They loiter into the night at the local bars & eateries, and buy things. They grab stuff they need on the way home even.

If you seek to exclude people from your city, that is exactly what you will accomplish, and the easiest way to do so is to make them feel that their only value is the money in their pockets; “Give us your dollars then go!” seems too often the current meta-message spoken by the design of urban public places.

“Yeah ok, I’ll give you a buck, then go. I’ve had a long workday, I’m tired, and I’ll go find someplace else, where I can sit down.”