Cities matter. They matter for fighting climate change, for fighting pandemics, and, as the Urban Warfare Project continues to demonstrate, they matter for the future of fighting itself. The heightened importance of urban spaces results from demographic developments, with the global population advancing toward 70 percent living in urban areas by 2050, and from recent trends in terrorism, counterinsurgency and stabilization efforts. Both people and the fight are converging on cities.
But recognizing the importance of the urban domain is a very different thing from knowing a particular city, or even knowing urban areas more generally. After all, there are many cities—according to UN data, there are around one thousand urban agglomerations with populations of half a million or greater—and they remain difficult to know.