Boyd Cohen “…emerging trends … brand new cities…”

Boyd Cohen, climate strategist, author and researcher:
“One of the fascinating emerging trends will be the introduction and evolution of brand new cities which are being built from the ground up with smart cities in mind.”

Based on his definition of Smart City “Smart cities use information and communication technologies (ICT) to be more intelligent and efficient in the use of resources, resulting in cost and energy savings, improved service delivery and quality of life, and reduced environmental footprint-all supporting innovation and the low-carbon economy.” Cohen published a list of the Top 10 smartest cities on the globe as a result of his research. I was quite surprised to see Vienna in first place and Amsterdam not listed:

1) Vienna
2) Toronto
3) Paris
4) New York
5) London
6) Tokyo
7) Berlin
8) Copenhagen
9) Hong Kong
10) Barcelona


Smart City Expo World Congress, Barcelona

First day of the congress started – here are some quotes that perfectly fit my theory that Smart City is not about innovation of technology but about a revolutionary approach in organizational structures….

Kent Larson, Principal Research Scientist and Director of the Changing Places Group, MIT Media Lab, Department of Architecture and Media Lab, Cambridge, USA:

* ‘We developed cities in segmented areas over time and realize the limitation of this concept. Segments are not made to scale.’
* Buildings originally were constructed like skeletal systems and progressed to structures that add blood circulation to the bones. ‘I think next stage is comparable to the nervous system of a body.’ The implementation of sensors make data available and actionable information possible. Challenge is to get acceptance of people – young people love it, baby boomers not so much. Therefore the transformation process to smart solutions will be a bottom up approach over time.
* ‘People, especially young people increasingly prefer to share and use than possess.’ referring to the cover story of The Economist.
* From the audience the question how to commercialize the impressive technology shown was raised. Larson’s idea is to encourage students from MIT and other academia to set up startup companies. These startups than need to be fed into large corporations for them to roll out large scale solutions. ‘Governance should encourage this.’.

Plenary session “IT city integrated vision”
* Chris Vein, Chief Innovation Officer for Global Information and Communication Technology Development, World Bank, Washington DC, USA quoted Mike Bracken / UK: ‘”In an analog world policy dictates delivery. In a digital world delivery informs policy.” This entails a whole new way of organising our business processes.’ – Exactly! – Couldn’t have said that any better 😉

Plenary session “The Future of urban Sustainability”
Amitabh Kant, CEO & managing director, Delhi and Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation, New Delhi, India:
* ‘Horizontal integration is key to urban development – this is difficult for retrofitting, much easier in greenfield. {…} Segmented urbanisation is dead.’
* ‘Technology is not the ultimate solution. Technology has to harnest the people. People make it a vibrant city, not technology. Emerging countries have an advantage and are the ones to make a sustainable planet.’
* ‘Smart City, Connected City, Intelligent City Concepts – are all dead, if corporations like IBM, Siemens, Schneider – all the big ones that exhibit here today – continue to supply in silos! You need a revolutionary approach.’

Sylvie Spalmacin-Roma, IBM, Vice President, Smarter Cities, Europe:
* ‘Data becomes a natural resource in itself. {…} Cities across the world are mainly structured in silos. This is not a bad thing, as you need experts in the segments. But for sustainable development data needs to be used across segments.’
* ‘Many cities move to horizontal organization to make use and integrate data available. This was the bases for the Rio project.’
* ‘Coming back to your (Amitabh Kant) point of corporations working in silos: There is a need of combination of public and political players. Municipalities can help private companies to understand the needs and work together.’
Factual-, observational- and social media data can now be integrated and put into actionable data. Motivation for cities to do so is to reduce operational cost. This can easily be done by analysing data available. Innovative projects can then be paid out of the savings.

Moderator Cristiana Fragola, C40, regional director Europe, Milan, Italy:
* ‘I think it is common understanding of this panel that a smart city first of all is about integration, integration, integration. Even before upgrading aged infrastructure.’

Sam Adams, Managing Director, City Club of Portland, Portland, USA:
* Political top ranking issue should be: ‘Set goals! Set goals what kind of city you want to be. Only afterwards use technology to achieve these goals.’ Currently the focus is on technology and implementing solutions without necessarily paying to a big picture.

Larry Ng Lye Hock, Urban Design Director, Urban Redevelopment Authority, Singapore:
New developments now put sociologists in first place rather than architects and city planners.

More to come 😉

The National Future Cities Conference 2013

UK Conference: “The National Future Cities Conference 2013” in London, 3 December 2013 – sounds really interesting!! ​​​Governance (e.g. TSB, Ministry for Transport UK) and cities (e.g. Birmingham, Dublin, Manchester) present.​​

The shifting global business landscape

Asia and Africa are not only the regions of highest population growth but also changing global market places. With their high pace of urbanisation, development of consumption power and increasingly skilled labor it is most likely that the global business landscape will change.
Emerging countries set the scene for either new business areas for established corporations or a threat of existing business when these markets are ignored. Especially when having the economic slow down of developed markets in North America and Europe in mind. According to McK large corporations will rise in the emerging world and impact the dynamics of global competition.

Is the living-lab Europe too self-confident?

Based on some insights from the “2013 Shanghai Intelligent Building Expo” urbanisation really takes up pace in China. Over the next 20 yeras urban population is predicted to increase by 350mio. There are plans to newly build 50,000 skyscrapers and 170 underground transportation systems.
Energy efficiency is the most critical factor in the chinese urbanisation process as the building sector stands for approx 40% of the total energy consumption.

It will be interesting to observe what solutions will be tested and rolled out for the intelligence of a building e.g. automation, HVAC, lighting, elevation as well as its substance e.g. construction, isolation, energy supply.
Will solutions be developed in China and exported to Europ and North America? Will chinese companies buy into the european market e.g. with M&A or sponsored pilot projects (like Toshiba in France) or will it be the other way round?
So far, listening to stakeholders in Europe, there is the manifest belief, that Europe is the living lab for the golbal future.

Learning about the ambitious chinese plans the self-consciousness of “established” multi-nationals might be a bit too self-confident.

Ørestad – first the infrastructure, than buildings on landfill

• Ørestad is the youngest quarter of Copenhagen build on the island of Amager – a landfill-area, previously used by military. Since 1992 it is turned into a mixed quarter for living and working. The quarter stretches north-south with 5km in length and 600m wide.
• There will be another 20 to 30 years before Ørestad is finished. The planning aims for 20.000 inhabitants and 60.000 workplaces.
• Quite unlikely for urban development in Denmark is that infrastructure is in place before buildings. That is due to the financing model applied:
In 1993 the Ørestadsselskab company was founded to develop the area. Their main task is to set up the infrastructure, a Metro-line, for the area. The project shall be financed by the revenue gained from selling ground to investors. Ørestadsselskab is owned by 55% from the municipality of Copenhagen and with 45% the Danish State.
• The Metro connects the various parts of Ørestad with the centre of Copenhagen and runs parallel to the Europe highway that gives a good connection to Sweden and the airport Kastrup.
• The guiding thought of this new urban development could be „Open Live“:
• There are private buildings comprising flats of 30m2 to over 100m2 all one open space.
• A newly built student-home conceptionally follows the analogy to chinese housing – being little groups within a bigger community. There are living groups of 12 students sharing kitchen and lounge facilities. Several of these groups are clustered in a section and 4 sections build the circle of the whole community.
• The „Gymnasium“ is the first highschool build in Denmark within the last 35 years. There are no traditional class rooms, learning is all open space.
• The „Concert Hall“ opened in 2009. It is built according to the plans of the french architect Jean Nouvel. It is covered in blue canvas that allows the projection of the play to the fassade.
• Besides all these good approaches for sustainable urban development Ørestad is also a great example for topics to be cautious about.
• The infrastructure (metro and main road) makes the quarter easily accessible but also cuts through, destructing the slightest effort for atmosphere and coziness. This development seems to make the same mistake as the car centered developments of german towns in the late 60s, early 70s.
• The groundlevel of the buildings was supposed for shops and retail. However this approach didn’t work so far, as most of the retail is concentrated in the newly built shopping center „Fields“ – the biggest in Scandinavia. This complex sucked all shops out of the neighbourhood and leaves the groundlevels around empty.

Why does it seem to be so difficult to create the coziness we love in grown city structures? Developing a greenfield is a unique chance – however we always seem to know exactly what went wrong afterwards.


The new urban development quarter I visited wants to encourage people not to have their own car:
• When moving there public transportation and car sharing are free of charge for the first 6 months (financed by the city – I was told).
• Parking space per flat is calculated with 0,8 cars (in Germany mostly 1,0).
• No through traffic; narrow streets
• Multipurpose spaces (e.g. for cars, pedestrians, bikes, restaurants)