Welcome to City Forward

“I felt the physical city to be a perfect equation for a great abstraction.”

Homage to Victory Boogie Woogie #1, Leon Smith

It’s hard not to see the reasoning behind that quote from the Mondrian-acolyte painter Leon Polk Smith when you learn that he grew up amidst the gridded fields of Oklahoma before moving to New York City.

But it’s instructive in another way. The physical city certainly is the expression of abstract things. The desires of its inhabitants, the collective aesthetic of cultures, the movement of goods, the education, safety, and utilities that strengthen or weaken it.

What’s been missing is a good way to describe that equation. And that’s why I’m pleased to have been a part of the development of City Forward. This site is a first step in aggregating, visualizing, and socializing the abstract vital signs of cities worldwide to permit a better understanding of the world we live in. It’s rich with functionality — honed over many months with amazing feedback from our beta community — to provide a single place to work with the data our cities are opening up.

We’re not alone in this endeavor and we hope to play a critical role in the ecosystem of applications that are making public data more useful, insightful, and actionable.

City Forward has a lot to offer. I encourage you to learn more about what it can do (perhaps watch the video) and to create your own explorations of the data within. Help us find the equations so we can describe a better future for our metropolitan regions.