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Stories about the lives we've made

module:Urban sustainability

Cities and the role of technology

page:Technology advances

Malaysia's ‘multimedia supercorridor' and Cyberjaya

Cyberjaya HQ in Malaysia. picture zoom © Manfred Leiter

Cyberjaya is a prestigious, large-scale project, the primary aim being to attract global information technology (IT) companies to Malaysia and use it as a hub. It is an ambitious project in three phases, expected to cost around $20 billion when finally complete.

Cyberjaya Multimedia University. picture zoom © Manfred Leiter

The development purports to be ‘intelligent, high-tech, low density and environmentally friendly'. The city lies at the heart of Malaysia's so-called Multimedia Super-Corridor, with the Petronas Towers – the world's tallest building – at one end and the new Kuala Lumpur International Airport at the other.

Malaysia's new administrative capital Putrajava. picture zoom © Manfred Leiter

A digital fibre network of ten gigabits, the latest fibre-optic technology, modern apartments, shopping malls and recreational centres, good roads and an efficient rail service are designed to make the city efficient, attractive and sustainable. Building the Multimedia Super-Corridor started in 1996 over an area of 750 sq km (300 square miles). The corridor will also contain a new administrative capital for Malaysia, Putrajaya.

Cyberjaya is intended to ensure Malaysia's entry into developed world status by the year 2020 – a concept President Mahathir Mohammed calls ‘Vision 2020'. It is designed to turn the Penang peninsula of Malaysia into a type of Silicon Valley, This is an example of technology being used deliberately from the start of a planned urban structure and will take decades to finish – by which time new technology will have been created and undoubtedly refurbishment and redevelopment will begin!

Earthquake-resistant designs and technology

Over the past 100 years, major earthquakes in the United States have damaged or destroyed numerous buildings, bridges and other structures.

The Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco - built to withstand earthquakes. picture zoom © Kim Adams

The high-tech response
On 17 October 1989, the Richter magnitude 7.1 Loma Prieta earthquake struck the Santa Cruz Mountains in central California. In downtown San Francisco 60 miles away the Transamerica Pyramid, a 49-storey office building shook for more than a minute.

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) instruments showed that the top floor swayed more than 1 foot from side to side. However, no one was seriously injured and the Transamerica Pyramid was not damaged. This famous San Francisco landmark had been designed to withstand even greater earthquake stresses, and that design worked as planned during the earthquake.

The low-tech response
The Vanguard Valve invented by Homer Nowell of San Leandro is an automatic shut-off valve costing less than £200. It reduces the risk of the secondary hazard of fire.

Effective implementation
Cities are very much more aware of hazard control than they were in the 1990s. However the loss of life in recent earthquakes in Turkey has highlighted how essential it is to control the building process, planning, urban development and building inspection. Poor people are usually the ones most affected by hazards – the term ‘classquakes` is widely used by hazard managers and the media.

By monitoring how structures respond to earthquakes and applying the knowledge gained, scientists and engineers are improving the ability of structures to survive major earthquakes. Such structures are called aseismic. Many lives and millions of dollars have already been saved by this ongoing research. Not all technology has to be high tech however and simple low-cost devices may save lives and property too. Whatever the technology, it has to be used effectively: it is not enough to have good buildings – expert engineers and governments have to enforce them!

London's ‘congestion charging'

This initiative combining the latest CCTV traffic monitoring linked with a charge to enter central London started in February 2003. If successful – and after the first two months there was a 17 percent reduction in overall traffic – other cities in the UK will follow, such as Bristol and Manchester. There may also be take-up further afield, for example in New York. Political pressures may dictate against the use of such schemes in certain areas.

Excessive traffic congestion and loss of revenue from businesses causes health and quality of life problems.

Beddington Zero Energy Project

Beddington Zero Energy Project. picture zoom © Bda-Zedfactory Ltd

An 82-home scheme on the brownfield site of a former sewage works in Hackbridge in south London, Beddington is the first 'carbon neutral' community in the United Kingdom.

It will be entirely energy efficient, using only renewable energy sources generated on site such as solar and tree waste. Building materials for the project have been sourced from within a 35-mile radius. The technology involves a mixture of high- and low-tech solutions – combined heat and power units, triple glazing, water-saving appliances, recycling bins, car pool and internet links.

Beddington Zero Energy Project. picture zoom © Bda-Zedfactory Ltd

Housing accounts for around 27 percent of total CO2 emission according to 2003 studies. If new housing can reduce the amount of CO2 used in the production, transportation or use of any materials it will reduce the energy needed and hence the emissions. It helps reduce the ecological footprint. The mixture of homes for rent and sale at ‘affordable prices' helps the community aspect of sustainability too.

Resource Descriptions

Cyberjaya HQ in Malaysia.
Cyberjaya Multimedia University.
Malaysia's new administrative capital Putrajava.
The Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco - built to withstand earthquakes.
Beddington Zero Energy Project.
Beddington Zero Energy Project.
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