A new global urban order is being shaped by the growth of teletechnology. This process encompasses the development of telecommunities as a leading-edge phenomenon, the technological connection of regional and global urban interests, and the mutual reinforcement of technological and socio-economic infrastructures. Two major points for urban analysts emerge: one immediate and practical, the other theoretical, slower-moving, but far-reaching. On the practical level, teletechnology is part of the evolution of the urban net—a global community of cities distinct from countries—and will rapidly increase the ability of global cities to create inter-urban infrastructures separate from traditional nation-to-nation infrastructures.
Saskia Sassen is credited with coining the term “global city” to denote a city which, because of its power and other characteristics, relates to similar cities in other countries more strongly than to the rest of its own country. A good current example of this is Hong Kong. A British Crown Colony from 1843 until its government was ceded to the People’s Republic of China in 1997, Hong Kong continues to conduct a liberal capitalist economy. The People’s Republic has agreed to allow the city effective autonomy until 2047 in all matters except defense and foreign relations. Since Hong Kong is one of the world’s major centers of capitalist enterprise, however, maintaining its own judicial structure, envoys to important global institutions, customs protocols, and immigration regulations, it is hard not to see it as effectively conducting a vigorous de facto foreign relations apparatus. Now that they are being empowered even further by teletechnology, global cities can be expected to increase their cooperation and their formation of a transnational realm of intercity cooperation. We will see more initiatives like the Cities Alliance, a global coalition of cities jointly organized by the World Bank and the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat). As urban teletechnology use increases, cities will use telecommunity tools increasingly in designing their infrastructures and managing their relationships with regions and outlying communities.