Dear Scientific American Reader:

Scientific American is conducting a survey about the future of cities, the results of which will be published in the magazine along with a series of articles on urban life in the 21st century. The survey will poll elected officials, academics, policymakers, and opinion leaders, including Scientific American readers, about ways to improve cities and their livability.

As part of this effort, we are also soliciting reader opinions in response to the following question (some reply excerpts might be published in our September 2011 issue or at

"What is one innovation, technological or otherwise, that would make any city a substantially more livable place? (More livable can apply to any of various dimensions: sustainability, health, social equity, business climate, personal welfare, municipal services or any other quality.)

Please reply as if there were no fiscal or political constraints. As a science and technology magazine, we are particularly interested in new technologies that might benefit city dwellers. Some approaches that might be of interest include those that mitigate the effects of greenhouse gases or accommodate changing demographics; improve economic productivity, transport, water supply or waste disposal—or even facilitate new forms of social networking.

If your answer has nothing to do with technical issues (perhaps it concerns socioeconomic topics, such as crime or poverty), we are still very interested in your reply. Of course, every municipality can always benefit from improved finances, so it would be best if your answer did not address the persistent need for more funding.

To participate, please limit your response to a few sentences (no more than two paragraphs) and e-mail it to the following address: Please also provide your full name, place of residence and contact information. We can't publish anonymous replies. If you have particular expertise in urban affairs, please specify this in your response. Thank you for considering this request. We look forward to your input.

Best regards,

Mariette DiChristina

Editor in Chief

Scientific American