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San Francisco Bay Area’s Pioneers—Linking Technology and Public Policy

One of the best things about my job at CISCO is the opportunity to work with innovators in government, business, the independent sector, and nonprofits and examine the problems of urban communities in new ways.

Over the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of supporting the launch of a new civic presence in our hometown of San Jose that does this very well: the San Jose office of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, SPUR San Jose.

Since 1910, SPUR has provided a place for Bay Area residents to come together to work out solutions to complicated problems. Today it’s one of the leading civic planning organizations in the United States, respected for a strong-minded independence and a holistic approach to both the regional and city issues agenda.

SPUR San Jose is the very first office established outside of San Francisco in the organization’s 100 year history. This is a long-overdue expansion – and it reflects SPUR’s belief that Northern California’s largest city is a key voice in the conversation about smart design, planning, policy and technological innovations that enable cities and regions to respond to the complex challenges of the 21st century.

SPUR’s expansion to San Jose represents a special opportunity to share knowledge and best practices between the Bay Area’s central cities. From adapting to climate change and sea level rise to creating the conditions for a thriving Bay Area economy, the region shares a common fate. We are linked by BART, Caltrain and other major regional infrastructure systems. We share an economy and a housing market. We are similarly confronted by the disadvantages of California’s sclerotic government.

SPUR is pioneering solutions to the multiple challenges that define our era. The organization is driving the conversation around the future of work and ways to improve regional transit, putting forth a vision for using the principles of urbanism—density, walkability, interaction—to strengthen the Bay Area’s economy. They continue to set an example for innovative ways government can partner with the private sector to strengthen economic dynamism and increase the livability of our region. SPUR’s research on disaster planning and climate adaptation has framed the international definition of what it means to be a resilient city.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that SPUR’s outstanding 2012 report on “The Urban Future of Work” is very much in synch with our own thinking about that subject. In fact, IBSG’s “Work-Life Innovation” white paper series helps to fill in some of the blanks. For instance, “Work-Life Innovation: The Future of Distributed and Networked Work” outlines the compelling case, for business and society and government, and spells out some of the many ways that our current moment is a transformative moment in history for everyone who works, and it will change the ways we work, the where we work and the why we work.

San Jose leaders say that the city wants to be more urban – to capture the economic, environmental and social benefits of a built environment where people can more easily connect, communicate and collaborate. SPUR is the group that can take us there.

CISCO has been a major supporter of SPUR San Jose. We share an essential vision of the benefits of collaboration and a commitment to cross-sector partnerships to produce innovative solutions to the challenges facing urban areas. Those who are interested to know more should firstly check out SPUR San Jose’s inaugural season of programming and then join as a member.

SPUR’s work in all programmatic and geographic areas is guided by the same urbanist values that underlie Cisco’s work: the belief that cities are places rich with life, energy and promise—and that cities are also the solution to many of the biggest problems we face.

I’m enthusiastic about SPUR’s entry into the conversation in San Jose. I’m looking forward to working with them to unite the central cities and lead the region towards a smart + connected future.

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