August 20, 2014  |  permalink

Aspen Ideas: Smart City Limits

The Aspen Institute has posted an abbreviated clip from one of my sessions at this year’s Ideas Festival, “Smart City Limits: How Much Can Big Data Really Do?” I was fortunate to have Code for America’s Jen Pahlka, IBM’s Guru Banavar, and the Santa Fe Institute’s Luís Bettancourt discuss the limits of technology and theoretical models when it comes to improving the quality of life in cities. Enjoy.

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August 13, 2014  |  permalink

Van Alen’s “Future Ground”


The Van Alen Institute has partnered with the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA) to launch “Future Ground,” a competition to make New Orleans a global leader in reusing vacant land. I’m honored to have been asked to join Adrian Benepe, Toni Griffin, Mitchell Silver, and Stephen Zacks, among many others, to serve on the competition’s advisory board. “Future Ground” will generate flexible design and policy strategies that forecast and accommodate changes in density, demand, climate, and landscape over the next half-century in New Orleans, transforming abandoned landscapes into resources for the current and future city.

Three teams will be selected to participate in a six-month research and design process to tackle the social, economic, and ecological challenges underlying reuse of the most prevalent types of vacant land in the city. Working closely with local stakeholders and national experts, teams will produce implementable, replicable solutions that can be applied to specific sites citywide, and that can help catalyze change in cities around the world.

For more information on how to apply, please visit

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July 21, 2014  |  permalink

Amsterdam Institute of Advanced Metropolitan Solutions

There’s a short — barely a minute’s worth — of video highlights from my talk at the launch of Amsterdam’s Institute of Advanced Metropolitan Solutions last month. I appear around the 5:20 mark and speak until 6:20. The magic of jet lag and editing has slowed my speech patterns to the point where it’s actually comprehensible. Enjoy.

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July 16, 2014  |  permalink

Architizer on the Serendipity Engine


Architizer has posted a brief story on the Space Forward Ideas Competition, in which my entry with Katrina Szabo, “Serendipity Engine,” was a runner-up.

The winning entry, “Print Screen,” imagines a programmable office in which workers print soundproof screens to shape their environment more or less on the fly. As for our project, “an app called Serendipity Engine combines tracking data and real space to promote social engagement and collaboration, not unlike smart-home products such as Nest and DARPA projects like Squad X.”

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July 16, 2014  |  permalink

Next City: Airlines and Airports Brace for a Massive Surge in Passengers


(Originally published at Next City on July 14, 2014.)

If you doubt the world is really comprised of a network of cities — rather than that increasingly creaky construct, the nation-state — look no further than time-lapse photography of global air routes. One can spot the glowing economic cores of Western European, Northeast Asia and the Eastern Seaboard at a glance.

But the strength of those ties is changing. Boeing released its latest 20-year forecast for aviation last week, and it predicts the number of airline passengers will double in the next two decades. The surge in new travelers will produce demand for 36,770 new planes worth $5.2 trillion, and Boeing expects the vast majority of those planes (more than 25,000) will be of the single-aisle variety – preferably a successor to the Boeing 737, as ubiquitous and utilitarian as a city bus. Most of these new customers will be airlines in Asia, as rising incomes in the continent’s emerging middle class propel waves of Chinese, Indian and Indonesian tourists to Phuket and Hainan just as the original 737s ferried Americans to Orlando and Las Vegas.

Such numbers might sound absurd to Westerners – how could there be twice as many passengers in a mere 20 years? But globally, air traffic has already nearly doubled in just the last decade. What’s more, the largest deals in the history of Airbus and Boeing — for 234 aircraft in 2013 worth $24 billion at list prices, and for 230 jets in 2011 worth $22.4 billion, respectively — were both made with an airline most Americans have never even heard of: Indonesia’s Lion Air. “There are three billion people in Asia, there are 300 million people in America. America has about three times more planes right now than Asia,” AirAsia founder Tony Fernandes told Bloomberg Television last year.

» Continue reading...

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July 10, 2014  |  permalink

Ready for Hillary


One of the highlights of attending the Clinton Global Initiative America this year was posing with “the Secretary,” as she’s called, as a reward for making a commitment to action. I didn’t have a “me wall” before, but I guess I just started one.

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July 09, 2014  |  permalink

Aspen Public Radio

Aspen Public Radio has a brief interview with me taped before last month’s Aspen Ideas Festival, but didn’t hit the Web until today. (I guess there was a backlog of thought leaders.) I talked about the usual suspects — cities, serendipity, transportation, and more. The audio is above.

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June 30, 2014  |  permalink

NBBJ: The City Is a Social Network

While visting NBBJ — the architects of Amazon’s, Google’s, and Samsung’s new campuses — in Seattle last month, I sat down to talk about cities, inequality, and the future of work. Please enjoy each of the resulting short films below:




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June 30, 2014  |  permalink

Aspen Ideas: Cities and Serendipity

Ahead of my talks on cities and serendipity here in Aspen, I spoke briefly with genConnect about what makes a great city. (Hint: it involves Tinder.)

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June 29, 2014  |  permalink

Aspen Ideas: Future Megacities and the Fate of Millions

I’m in Aspen this weekend for the tenth annual installment of the Aspen Ideas Festival, where I’m moderating several sessions on a new track named “The Metropolis.” The first, “Future Megacities and the Fate of Millions” brought together Shining Hope For Communities’ Kennedy Odede, McKinsey’s Shirish Sankhe, and the Sante Fe Institute’s Luis Bettancourt for a lively and wide-ranging conversation on cities, slums, and how to build better versions of each.

Video of the session is above; the official description is below:

A generation ago, New York and Tokyo were the world’s only megacities. By 2025, the UN predicts there will be 37. All but a handful will be in the developing world. The fate of millions, then, rests on the question: what will life in these megacities look like? While density is an almost universally celebrated urban characteristic, rapid population growth can also result in poorly planned, congested, and unsafe settlements, leading many to ask: Are slums the inevitable urban form of the future? How might big data and progressive planning ensure that even the fastest growing cities are places of opportunity for the billions that will live in them?


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About Greg Lindsay

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Greg Lindsay is a journalist, urbanist, and speaker. He is a contributing writer for Fast Company, author of the forthcoming book Engineering Serendipity, and co-author of Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next. He is also a senior fellow of the World Policy Institute — where he is director of the Emergent Cities Project — a visiting scholar at New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management, and a research affiliate of the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI).

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Articles by Greg Lindsay

Inc.  |  April 2014

The Network Effect

Atlantic Cities  |  March 2014

How Las Vegas (Of All Places) May Be About to Reinvent Car Ownership

Wired (UK)  |  October 2013

How to Build a Serendipity Engine

Next American City  |  August 2013

IBM’s Department of Education

The New York Times  |  April 2013

Engineering Serendipity

Fast Company  |  March 2013

Swedish Modern Comes To Town

Fast Company  |  March 2013

Working Beyond the Cube

Fast Company  |  December 2012/January 2013

Imagine Air Travel Without Hassle: Surf Air Can

WSJ  |  November 2012

Jeanne Gang

Fast Company  |  June 2012

That’s So Fly

Next American City  |  May 2012

Chartered Territory

The New York Times  |  Feburary 2012

Designing a Fix for Housing

Departures  |  October 2011

Instant Cities

Travel + Leisure  |  October 2011

The Future of Travel

The New York Times  |  September 2011

Not-So-Smart Cities

World Policy Journal  |  Fall 2011

Thus Spake Nano

Advertising Age  |  September 2011

Ad Age Insights: The Evolution of Facebook Brand Fans

Open Skies  |  July 2011

Paradise Lost: The Death and Strange Afterlife of Brasilia

WSJ  |  May 2011

Marc Newson on How Design Is Easy and Why You Can’t Make a Cappuccino on a Plane

WSJ  |  February 2011

Cities of the Sky

» See all articles


August 20, 2014

Aspen Ideas: Smart City Limits

August 13, 2014

Van Alen’s “Future Ground”

July 21, 2014

Amsterdam Institute of Advanced Metropolitan Solutions

July 16, 2014

Architizer on the Serendipity Engine

» More blog posts