Urenio Watch Watch: Intelligent / Smart Cities Strategies

Smart City Strategy: Bletchley Park (UK)

4a_Bletchley ParkThe Second World War, according to researchers from the Institute of the Future, was the first occasion in history that resulted in the development of ‘˜cities’ focused on using technology as a facilitator of knowledge and innovation. These ‘˜cities’ housed scientific and technical research in an isolated location, with the mission of performing war-related R&D. Komninos (2011) identified Bletchley Park in 1939 in the UK as the first intelligent city to have been realized with the purpose of benefitting from knowledge and information flow in the context of spatial proximity. During the Second World War Bletchley Park hosted UK’ s main decryption establishment, known as the ‘˜Government Code and Cypher School’ . The people who worked here (cryptanalysts and mathematicians) used machine intelligence and organized workflow to decrypt the ciphers of German opponents, which were produced through German Enigma and Lorenz coding machines. Here, for the first time, individual, collective, and machine intelligence were coordinated on a community-wide level, endowing a settlement with higher problem-solving capability, quicker responses, better quality procedures, and lower operation costs; in other words, with higher intelligence. It is actually the first occasion in history that ‘˜large-scale, organized cooperation took place, involving creative people, collective working procedures, rule-based thinking and intelligent machines’ (Komninos, 2011). At peak, 12,000 people lived and worked in Bletchley Park. Codebreaking activities ceased after the War and Bletchley Park is now a historical place, also hosting the Bletchley Park Science and Innovation Centre.


4b_Bletchley Parkfigure: Bletchley Park: intelligent machines and human intelligence combined (source)


Access Bletchley Park’ s website here.


Suggested readings about Bletchley Park:

  1. Komninos, N. (2011). Intelligent cities: Variable geometries of spatial intelligence. Intelligent Buildings International, 3(3), 172-188. doi: 10.1080/17508975.2011.579339. Available here.
  1. Townsend, A., Pang, A. S.-K., & Weddle, R. (2009). Future Knowledge Ecosystems; The Next Twenty Years of Technology-Led Economic Development, Institute for the Future. Available here.