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Show me the Money: the Debate Continues about Financing Urban Innovation

How exactly are companies and cities going to successfully finance dramatic upgrades of urban connectivity? When will the financial engineers develop the tools which, when used, result in smarter and more prosperous communities where efficiencies are realized; where multiple urban systems are integrated; and where the return on investment shows up in improved local economies?

On Feb 1st this blogger took a first look at that conundrum, as part of a panel at The Cities Summit,  —convened by The City of Vancouver. A few weeks later, I joined  another group of leaders assembled at the second annual Conference  on Sustainable Real Estate of NYU Schack Institute’s Center for the Sustainable Built Environment, where  not surprisingly, the topic came up again, at the conference’s conclusion. Read More »

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A Tale of Two Cities Pursuing One Common Vision: The story of how urban economics, urban energy, urban environment get greener, cleaner, smarter because they’re better connected (Part Two of a two-part series)

Following the conclusion of State of Green Business 2012, I boarded a plane to Vancouver with Stephan Dolezalek, Managing Director, VantagePoint Venture Partners and one of my fellow panelists at the San Francisco conference, to ask that other “greenish city on a bay” similar questions that were pondered in San Francisco. (As some of you already know, these two cities enjoy a friendly rivalry to see who can be more sustainable and prosperous while still being hip and cool).

The Cities Summit, hosted and organized on February 1-2 by Vancouver’s city government, assembled an interesting group comprised of hundreds of international business and urban leaders. They focused on the design of creative, practical solutions for a sustainable urban future. The city invited me to moderate a session entitled, “City Finance 2.0: Next Generation Urban Infrastructure.” The invitation arose for one good reason: the focus of this  Vancouver discussion — the business of city building — closely mirrors the focus of the “2012 Meeting of the Minds,” which Toyota and Cisco and others will convene in San Francisco in October. Read More »

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A Tale of Two Cities Pursuing One Common Vision: The story of how urban economics, urban energy, urban environment get greener, cleaner, smarter because they’re better connected (Part 1)

Two events on the North American west coast, set apart by two days, each helped to set the tone for this year’s big debate about the future of cities.

Where exactly is the big debate, you might ask? Looking at the Presidential election season The New York Times Op-Ed columnist, Tom Friedman, bemoaned in early January, the fact that he just doesn’t “remember any candidate being asked in those really entertaining G.O.P. debates, ‘How do you think smart cities can become the job engines of the future, and what is your plan to ensure that America has a strategic bandwidth advantage?’”

At IBSG we know some of the most important elements of that alternative future for US cities. And we are engaged in intensive projects with our customers — cities like Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Vancouver — to shape it. Read More »

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Innovation in the 21st Century City

As a global director of the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group’s Urban Innovation team, I’ve seen how broadband connectivity can radically transform urban life, while forcing us to rethink our entire approach to designing and managing cities. I recently had the opportunity to share some of my ideas on the subject at the 2011 World Council of UCLG (United Cities and Local Governments) in Florence, Italy.

The Council represents nearly half the world’s population, from 36 countries and more than 1,000 cities—everywhere from Istanbul and Dakar to Helsinki and New York. In Florence, more than 400 mayors, along with municipal ministers, directors, innovators and other experts, met to discuss the daunting challenges facing today’s cities, while offering solutions in a creative and interactive forum. Topics ranged from transportation, utilities, and infrastructure to tourism and environmental sustainability.

Mayor Matteo Renzi of Florence, the host of the event, has worked with Cisco on innovation initiatives in his city. In addition to helping him plan the conference, I was granted the opportunity to moderate some sessions on urban innovation. Read More »

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