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Urban Renewal: A Tale of Two American Cities

By Howard Baldwin, Contributing Columnist

For those who love irony, the story of Detroit is its epitome. Here’s a city that created an industry devoted to automobiles, which, because of their widespread acceptance, become the single greatest contributing factor to people leaving cities … like Detroit.

Granted, Detroit has had to deal with other contributing factors, but the fact remains that its population is a shadow of what it once was; over the past 60 years, its population has shrunk from 1.8 million to just over 700,000.

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Smart Cities: Moving from Discussion to a Call for Action

I am in San Francisco this week to attend a City Protocol workshop along with the Meeting of the Minds 2012 conference (Twitter: @meetoftheminds), which brings together thought leaders from the world’s most innovative organizations to spotlight fresh ideas in urban connectivity and sustainability.

All week, I’ve been surrounded by urbanists and city experts talking about ways to make cities better. At many city events worldwide, I see a lot of discussion that seems to center on “what” can be done to improve our cities. This week, however, I’ve heard people asking the presenters “how” the smart innovation actually happened. That is, they wanted to know who did what, and how it was developed, operated, and financed.

This clearly demonstrates that there is need for more replicable and usable information describing “how” Smart Cities are actually made to be smarter. To fill this need, one must understand how cities operate and how Smart City “indicators” are actually delivered. Read More »

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Smart City Frameworks: A Systematic Process for Enabling Smart+Connected Communities

Interest in Smart Cities has triggered plenty of theoretical and technology-led discussions, but not enough progress has been made in implementing related initiatives. In addition, there are a number of factors hindering adoption of Smart City solutions: scaling of newer technologies is unproven; technology challenges the existing status quo in how cities are run; and technology is not well-understood across city sectors.

However, the main barrier to adopting such solutions is the complexity of how cities are operated, financed, regulated, and planned. For instance, city operations are multidimensional and comprised of multiple stakeholders whose dependencies and interdependencies affect and ultimately determine the built environment. Smart Cities, however, present an opportunity to integrate physical city infrastructures—from utilities, transportation, and real estate to city services. Read More »

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Arriving Soon in San Francisco – Meeting of the Minds 2012

Smarter and more connected communities – that’s not just a pretty vision, far off into the future. They are being built now, often on the basis of a renewed and intelligent city infrastructure. These communities have numerous advantages over other cities. Some of the most successful ones are approaching their development in ways that change how they deliver services to residents, how those residents work, how traffic flows are managed, how public transportation operates, and how real estate resources are best utilized.

We want those attending Meeting of the Minds 2012 in San Francisco in October as well as those watching via webcast, to build a world where everything is connected, intelligent, and green: from office buildings and appliances to hospitals and schools. Citizens will play a central role in that new world, working together with business and government and achieving unprecedented levels of collaboration, productivity, and economic growth. And it can all happen without compromising the integrity of our natural systems or our fragile environmental quality. Read More »

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Cities Are Coming of Age

Cisco IBSG is engaging with some of the world’s most dynamic cities—for instance in San Francisco, Amsterdam, and Barcelona—to jointly explore how cities can harness new technology innovations. Success for such cities can lead to smarter choices by citizens in working, next-gen commuting, and communicating.  Now, for the first time a book peels back an entirely new layer on smart cities, shedding original insight into city behaviors and opening up innovative pathways from which solutions can emerge in urban places.

Beyond Smart Cities:  How Cities Network, Learn and Innovate by Tim Campbell, chair of the Urban Age Institute, an international non-profit and organizer of “The Meeting of the Minds,” zeroes in on how cities learn.  This is a topic that’s been out of the mainstream of urban discussion, but it’s clearly in the mainstream of city practice.  Nations and international organizations have completely missed the burgeoning exchange among cities.  This important new book adduces a lot of evidence—at the level of global city-to-city exchange, as well as specific case experiences, involving face-to-face relations among urban elites—to show that some of the smartest cities make a practice of learning systematically. Read More »

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