Parks and technology are concepts we generally don't associate with one another. Parks are the realm of nature, and there technology does not belong. The urban park, for that matter, developed from its 19th-century roots as a rejoinder to the ills imposed by technology, a place of respite away from the harsh forces of the mechanized modern city.
In our digital age, however, when our pockets spill over with computing power that would have been unthinkable even a few decades ago, that dichotomy is obsolete. There is no wishing away the technology that is reshaping how we inhabit the city's built and natural environments, a process only accelerated by the pandemic.
The so-called smart city, in which technology is an omnipresent component of urban design - allowing the tracking of every conceivable metric in the name of efficiency - is a scary prospect, and one that warrants vigilance. But a new downtown "smart park," West End Square, presents a model for how the delicate relationship between the urban landscape and our connected way of living might be navigated.