What future do we want? What future do we envision for our cities? For our residents who live, work, and go to school in the cities they call home? What type of "smart" city do we want to build, to co-create, together?
These were some of the questions tackled by urban thought leaders from across the globe who gathered to brainstorm and learn from each other – about how to leverage The City as the platform for civic innovation and collaboration. Hosted by The City Innovate Foundation, a collaboration of the San Francisco mayor’s office, U.C. Berkeley, and the MIT Media Lab, participants included a cross-section of mayors, policy leaders, nonprofits, companies, and investors who "bragged" about city innovations from Philadelphia, New York, Sacramento, Los Angeles,Tel Aviv, Copenhagen, the Phillipines, and Japan -- to name just a few.
It's not surprising that city leaders across America and around the world face similar urban challenges. How to best serve aging populations? How to activate citizens and engage youth? How to inventory and map municipal assets and data, while connecting legacy infrastructure to cutting-edge technologies? How to create liveable, sustainable cities that are inclusive and affordable for all residents?
Some hot topics and solutions included:
- rapid urban prototyping and energy modeling
- "ground-sourcing" data to create equitable and "thriving resiliency"
- mobility and transportation alternatives
- embedding start-ups within government
- re-engaging citizens through the maker movement and urban art
- establishing the technology office as "the front door to city government, The Office of Yes”
- creating an entrepreneurial culture of collaboration and networked-based problem-solving
- rebuilding trust in our public and private institutions
Peter Hirshberg, Chairman of The City Innovate Foundation, touched on a key challenge facing most municipal leaders: “Governments aren’t typically in the business of experimenting or taking risks or making mistakes, so I think a big part of this is driving an interdisciplinary conversation and continuing to build trust between government and innovators."
The continuation of this type of cross-sector dialogue will undoutedly catalyze smart, innovative policymaking and solutions ... which will ultimately attract talent, business development, and invesment to our respective communities. A big thank you to all the leaders and partners who continue to share their stories and learn from each other on the Path to Positive.
San Francisco jump-started its inaugural City Innovate Summit on June 17 with an international group of mayors and city officials showcasing their latest initiatives and strategies to solve vexing civic challenges.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee laid the groundwork for the two-day event with an introduction emphasizing city innovation achievements, the need for collaboration and a call for fellow mayors to leverage their cities as platforms for entrepreneurial and innovative works.
“Cities today are the engines of the greatest surge in innovation, creativity and problem solving in human history … and cities that think of themselves as platforms will become stronger, attract better talent and become smarter from the bottom up,” he said.
In his remarks, Lee highlighted San Francisco’s innovation advancements, pointing to a six-year open data initiative, its citizen-backed maker movement and key partnerships with locally based civic tech accelerators like Code for America and Tumml.
Yet, the larger vision — and the impetus for the summit — Lee noted, called for an amplified effort that requires a network of communication between boundaries and jurisdictions.