Learn why many of today's solutions are inadequate and failing our cities.
- Running cities today is difficult and complex work. I should know. I've been helping to do it for over five years in the heart of Silicon Valley in California. I've also had the chance to work and talk with city leaders and staff across the United States and internationally, too, in places like Ottawa, Canada, Yatche, Ecuador, Yi Shan, China, Dubai, and in several countries in Europe, like France, Ireland, Netherlands, and Austria.
We see a lot of common problems, and also acknowledge unique challenges in each area. For example, in Ecuador, there are few online services, and access to the Internet, while improved significantly recently, remains poor. In many Chinese cities, massive and rapid growth has resulted in air pollution and contaminated drinking water. In the United Arab Emirates, the economy is quickly shifting away from a historical reliance in oil, forcing innovation and diversification at a staggering rate.
In every country, there are varying degrees of access to data and information. A spectrum than ranges from almost no access to notable open access in many cities in the United States. We'll go much deeper on the topic of data in an urban innovation context in a later video. Not surprising, nothing is easy, quick, or cheap when it comes to cities. There are rules, regulations and processes that go back decades.
There are traditions and customs that are rigidly adhered to. Heck, many meetings are still brought to order using a wooden gavel. A lot of this conservatism makes sense. For example, while we already have workable self-driving cars, the limitation to get them quickly on the roads is not technological. It's the regulations and processes that need to catch up. There are lots of examples of services that could be done by the private sector, but still get done by city governments.
Many services could be outsourced, but cities choose to keep them in house. There are any number of reasons for this. There are certain challenges that have been too costly or technologically difficult to do differently until recently. For example, to enforce parking space usage, we still largely use people who must check cars on a regular basis and manually write tickets. I raise all these issues to ask one question. Are we serving ourselves best to continue to use a 20th century mindset for solving 21st century problems? We'll soon enter the third decade of the 21st century.
At least from a technological perspective, we not have a whole new set of capabilities to think differently about solving city challenges. Finally a small set of cities are recognizing this and are gradually changing their approaches to urban challenges. In fact a whole new movement is emerging that is about the convergence of people, processes, and new technology to make our cities function better. If we continue to apply 20th century fixes, we'll get 20th century results.
Let's look at how we might think about our challenges through the lens of 21st century tools and talent.
- The challenges of rapid urban development
- Understanding the basic functions and needs of 21st century cities
- Exploring what makes a smart city smart
- How smart cities are planned and maintained
- The role of big data in driving urban innovation
- Open data and smart cities
- Smart cities and the Internet of Things