March 19, 2015  |  permalink

Global Solution Networks: The Trust Network

(On February 20, I participated in the Global Solution Networks Summit in Washington, DC. Launched by the Tapscott Group and based at the University of Toronto’s Martin Prosperity Institute at the Rotman School of Management, GSNs are part of an effort to imagine new models of problem-solving. I was asked to chair the summit’s Cities table, and a summary of our discussion — and proposed GSN for housing — is below. The complete report can be found here.)

By 2025, 60% of the world’s population is expected to be living in cities. Rapid urbanization will cause significant stress on the existing infrastructure and social dynamics of cities. Yet, cities continue to be economic powerhouses—offering jobs and opportunities. In order for the benefits of cities to be maximized, it is vital that solutions are found to problems like urban poverty, pollution, congestion, and exclusion.

The Cities roundtable was facilitated by Greg Lindsay of the World Policy Institute. The group discussed urban issues such as transportation and congestion, lack of cooperation between public and private actors on urban design, austerity measures that have cut public services, and disaster preparedness. The role of major urban groups such as the academic and private sectors was also explored. It was difficult for the group to narrow down a specific problem to tackle as many of the issues are interrelated. Debate ensued about whether it would be valuable to create a meta-network where municipalities could access solutions occurring in other areas, or whether it would be better to start with a test case issue that could be scaled.

Ultimately, the group focused on the issue of affordable housing. Housing sits at the center of a whole host of urban issues, including inequality, austerity, and tenure. Community land trusts (CLTs) were developed in the United States fifty years ago as a citizen- and community-led alternative to government-provided public housing. While CLTs have proven their longevity, they have proven difficult to scale. This is because their principal advantage— sequestering land via the trust to eliminate the volatility of housing price—requires significant up-front costs to acquire land for little return.

SOLUTION: “The Trust Network” would be an operational and delivery network that creates a land trust through collaborative financing. The land held by the trust would be used as collateral to create public spaces and services. Multiple stakeholders would be brought in to take a grassroots approach to developing functional communities within cities.

“While creating such a network would still require large initial investments for land acquisition, it would still be possible to use banked land as extremely conservative collateral to help launch revenue-generating businesses that could finance the operation of the trusts and later acquire more land, thus perpetuating the growth of the network.”

Table participants:
Greg Lindsay, World Policy Institute
Faizal Karmali, Rockefeller
Heather Black, Anomaly
Bridget Roddy, US Department of State
Andy Shaindlin, Alumni Futures
Christopher Vivone, Cisco Systems
Bernhard Ritz, SAP
Nausheen Iqbal, American University

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March 19, 2015  |  permalink

Next City: SF Is Getting Musical Walls, “Data Lanterns” and Street Furniture Made of Mushrooms


(Published at Next City on March 19, 2015.)

Next month, the 250,000 daily travelers along Market Street — San Francisco’s three-mile-long central artery — will discover some new attractions along their commutes. Near the Embarcadero, a metal wall six feet tall and eight feet long will chime when touched or tapped. In the Financial District, “Data Lanterns” will draw on transit and other public data feeds to glow in response to arriving trains. A little further down the street, near the city’s Civic Center, billowing sheets of fabric will evoke a more tactile version of fog, while a street theater with seats made of compacted mushrooms will be composted after use.

These are just four of the fifty finalists in the Market Street Prototyping Festival, a novel effort to engage local designers, artists, and residents of surrounding neighborhoods in the remaking of thirty-six blocks of Market Street ahead of its planned reconstruction in 2018. For three days in April, the public will play-test their projects, offering feedback that will be used to select concepts to include in the final design.

The festival is also a prototype in its own right for a Bay Area strain of tactical urbanism that neither originates purely from above (a la the stealth makeover of Times Square in New York) or below (e.g. painting your own bike lanes), but tries to occupy middle ground. In this iteration of tactical urbanism, city planners commission ideas from citizens, iterate their designs with the help of community and professional partners, and incorporate their creations into official plans. The festival’s backers hope the process can become a model for other cities.

» Continue reading...

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March 19, 2015  |  permalink

Inc: Which Contacts Should You Keep in Touch With? Let This Software Tell You


“I have 6,000 contacts. Which ones should I be talking to?” asks Andy Wilson, co-founder and CEO of Pasadena, California-based startup Rexter. “It used to be answered by intuition, but intuition doesn’t scale.” Rexter’s answer is to plug into users’ social media profiles, Microsoft Exchange servers, and phone conversations and start listening. There, running silently, it reads emails, logs chats, and keeps tabs on calendars. Once you program Rexter with stated objectives—find new hires; raise more funding—algorithms that analyze the quality and fre­quency of your communications hunt for patterns buried in your exchanges with connections and suggest whom you should contact. Who’s relevant to your latest deal—and when were you last in touch? Who on your team has an in with a potentially valuable target?

Rexter—which costs $30 for individuals and $50 per interlinked user in group settings—also gathers formidable intel on your operations. “This gives you a deep dive into what [employees] actually do,” says Ted Simpson, a Los Angeles-based managing director of real-estate firm Avison Young. “Are they spending too much time cold-calling instead of relationship-building?” He describes Rexter as “the missing link between, Outlook, and your Rolodex.”

That’s the newest sweet spot in the $20 billion-plus customer relationship management market, in which Salesforce tracks pending transactions, LinkedIn traces whom you know and how, and group-chat programs such as Asana and Slack seek to replace email as the best way to follow tasks and conversations. If those are partial maps of how work gets done and by whom, Rexter aspires to be Waze, and offer turn-by-turn directions to accomplish specific tasks.

Wilson was inspired to start Rexter after struggling to manage relationships as he helped launch more than a dozen startups as a founder and director of Momentum Venture Management, a Los Angeles tech accelerator. No tool could handle the pace and scale of tackling his many tasks, he recalls: “There was simply no good way to manage your social network for the benefit of a team.” In 2010 he set out to invent one, and he’s since raised $2.3 million from such angel investors as the former CEOs of Ticketmaster and paid search pioneer Overture. Today, Rexter’s competitors include RelateIQ—which was bought by Salesforce last year for $390 million—and Humin, a new app that adds context to your contacts list.

One seductive possibility for entire businesses using Rexter: comparing outcomes (deals closed, products launched) with the flurries of messages preceding them, revealing successful strategies that can be copied. That’s what Mark Madigan hopes. He’s the national sales director of the privately held insurance firm Risk Strategies. “We have very high hit rates when we get in front of clients or prospects,” he says. “But our struggle is getting enough meetings. How do we get more?” Rexter, he believes, will help.

Wilson readily admits that, within groups, the intelligence his software collects could be abused, but stresses there are protections in place to prevent managers and teammates from, say, reading others’ email. He’s hopeful customers will choose enlightened self-interest over undermining internal competitors. “In organizations where you eat what you kill,” he says, “we can help you kill more.”

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March 19, 2015  |  permalink

Inc: 5 Global Cities of the Future

If you’re still pondering whether to head to Silicon Valley for your next startup, you’re not thinking big enough or far enough. Over the coming decade, the 600 largest and best-connected cities on the planet will contain a fifth of the world’s population, capture almost two-thirds of its economic growth, and encompass more than half of global GDP, according to the McKinsey Global Institute. And, as great as the Bay Area and Boulder and Austin are for launching a startup, you’d be only scratching the surface here when it comes to corralling talent, tapping the world’s next big market (hint: they speak Arabic), or being present for the next tech breakthrough.

America’s entrepreneurial spirit is too big to be contained by borders. Here, we present five global alternatives to traditional hotbeds of startup creation and growth. Each city offers unique advantages to American entrepreneurs, and each is a regional—or even global—hub in its own right. Some are great places to launch a business or expand into new markets. Others offer access to expertise or technologies that may not yet be available in the U.S. Many are home to some of the world’s best workers, as well as to partners who will help you scale.

For example, Istanbul and Dubai are gateways to the modern Middle East, a market that is growing faster than (and is younger and bigger than) that of the United States. Santiago, Chile, has made a name for itself as one of the most foreign-entrepreneur-friendly cities on the planet, and as a test bed for launching into Latin America. Tallinn, Estonia, is one of the world’s most internet-connected cities, with a deep pool of technical talent thanks to all the Skype alumni running around. Shenzhen, China, aspires to be the Silicon Valley for hardware makers, a place where accelerators are eager to help you build, test, refine, and make a million of something all in the same day. If these cities aren’t already on your radar as lands of opportunity for your company, let this serve as notice that they should be.


1. Gateway to a Megamarket

Population • 2.1 million
Most famous startup •

Only the kingdom of bling would kick off a recruiting drive for entrepreneurs with a $1.5 billion “innovation hub.” Announced last fall, this mammoth expansion of Dubai’s Internet City is poised to be the launchpad for a new generation of Arab-owned companies looking to partner with the emirate’s deep-pocketed conglomerates and to expand across the entire region.

Widely written off after the global financial crisis, Dubai has lost none of its swagger—and none of the advantages that made it the region’s best business hub. Entrepreneurs willing to endure scorching summers, punishingly high housing costs, and a dearth of local tech talent are able to exploit the emirate’s unmatched investments in infrastructure, low taxes, and tolerance for expatriates. It’s one of the world’s “few truly connected global cities,” according to the McKinsey Global Institute, and one that’s a crossroads for North Africa and the Middle East.

Dubai’s monarchy can also think like a startup when it wants to. The inaugural U.A.E. Drones for Good competition awarded more than $1 million in prizes in February as part of an effort to seed the Middle East’s drone industry, with more than a dozen such startups launching in the emirate. A similar initiative, the U.A.E. 3-D Printing Innovation Alliance, brings together local universities, 3-D-printer companies, and regional entrepreneurs in an attempt to cement Dubai’s status as the leader in an industry that’s still searching for its killer app.

» Continue reading...

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January 24, 2015  |  permalink

Next City: How Dating Apps Are Changing the Way We Behave in Public


(Originally published at Next City on January 21, 2015.)

Last month, on a blustery night the week before Christmas, my friend Jeff Ferzoco and I sat alone in a gay club in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood discussing Grindr, the mobile dating app used daily by five million gay men around the world. We’d arrived at the bar too early, he assured me. By the end of the night, he said, “it will be so crowded people will be using it just to see who’s in the room.”

I believed him, because earlier that year I had seen Jeff navigate the social terrain of Manhattan’s East Village this way. Ferzoco is a designer, the former creative director of New York’s Regional Plan Association, and the author of The You-City, which envisions a smart city five minutes into the future. As such, he’s someone who thinks a lot about how our phones are changing our relationship with public space. Instead of using Grindr (or his preferred alternative, Scruff) to meet men from the comfort of his couch, he keeps tabs on his friends who are already out to decide when and where to join them.

Walking up 2nd Ave. that night in August, Ferzoco had held his phone before him like a compass, checking to see whether we were getting closer to his friends or moving farther away. Scruff, like Grindr, reveals other users’ proximity as the crow flies, but doesn’t disclose their exact location — at least not intentionally. He had mentally mapped the app’s generic distances onto the Manhattan grid (“Two-hundred-and-fifty feet is about a block-and-half,” he said) and could reference his location against a list of their usual haunts. On that night, he found them at a bar called Nowhere.

For all the handwringing about “hookup” apps undermining monogamy, fewer have wondered how their use of proximity to serve up potential matches is changing users’ perceptions of the city. Based on sheer numbers and intensity, they must be. Grindr’s rise was a watershed in a cruising culture that had always relied on coded signals and assignations in public space. Today, 38 million messages are exchanged daily through the app, many in countries where homosexuality is a capital crime.

Many observers doubted whether Grindr’s meat market would translate to straight dating until Tinder’s arrival. The notoriously addictive app has been downloaded more than 40 million times in less than three years and at last count was making 14 million matches daily. Depending on who you ask, it’s worth somewhere between $500 million and $5 billion to its parent, IAC.

» Continue reading...

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January 18, 2015  |  permalink

Influx and Exodus: Two Conversations on Urban Density at the Van Alen Institute

On December 9, 2014, I hosted “Influx and Exodus: Two Conversations on Urban Density,” an event hosted by the Van Alen Institute and co-sponsored by the World Policy Institute. In a pair of back-to-back panels, we explored how Rust Belt cities are struggling to repurpose vacant land and adapt the delivery of fundamental services, while cities like Mumbai and Lagos sprawl ever outward with dense informal communities. In both cases, adapting to sudden population change presents a massive challenge. How can city infrastructure and policy keep pace with the dramatic shifts brought on by rapid growth and decline?

The video above is from the second panel dealing with the challenges of immigration and mega-urbanization. I was joined by Janice Perlman, Founder & President of the Mega-Cities Project; and Rachel Peric, deputy director of Welcoming America. Please enjoy.


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January 01, 2015  |  permalink

The Endless Tour

Below is the current list of past and future appearances, always bound to change. If you’re interested in helping to arrange a speaking appearance, please send me an email.

February 16, 2016. Providence, RI.
Providence Council on Foreign Relations.

December 8-9, 2015. King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia.

November 21-22, 2015. Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Expo 2020.

November 18, 2015. Pasadena, CA.
California Transit Association.

November 17, 2015. New York, NY.

November 12-13, 2015. Cambridge, MA.
Disrupting Mobility.

November 10, 2015. Zurich, Switzerland.
The Circle.

November 9, 2015. Paris, France.
New World Forum.

October 27-28, 2015. Eden Prairie, MN.

October 22, 2015. New York, NY.
Municipal Art Society Summit.

October 20-21, 2015. Singapore.
Abraaj Annual Forum.

October 14, 2015. London, United Kingdom.
Cities on the Move.

October 7, 2015. New York, NY.
Center for Architecture.

September 30, 2015. York Regional Municipality, ON.
York Regional Council.

September 28, 2015. Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
ILTM Americas.

September 22, 2015. San Antonio, TX.
Texas Travel Industry Association.

September 16, 2015. London, United Kingdom.
Federation Internationale de l’Automobile.

September 14, 2015. Nashville, TN.
Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association.

September 4, 2015. Los Angeles, CA.

June 18-19, 2015. Prague, Czech Republic.

June 9-11, 2015. Jakarta, Indonesia.
New Cities Summit.

June 2, 2015. New York, NY.
The Happiness Industry: Book Discussion with Will Davies, Greg Lindsay, and Melissa Aronczyk.

May 28, 2015. Bursa, Turkey.
Bursa Innovation and Design Summit.

May 20, 2015. Seattle, WA.

May 19, 2015. Redmond, WA.
Microsoft Research.

May 15, 2015. Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

May 6, 2015. Orlando, FL.
University of Central Florida Real Estate Conference.

May 5, 2015. Miami, FL.
eMerge Americas.

March 12, 2015. Cambridge, MA.
MIT & Iceland Naturally.

February 20, 2015. Washington, DC.
U. S. Department of State.

February 20, 2015. Washington, DC.
Global Solution Networks.

February 19, 2015. Fort Worth, TX.
Fort Worth Lecture Society.

February 12, 2015. Orlando, FL.
Association of Energy Services Professionals.

January 30, 2015. San Francisco, CA.
Gehl Studio.

January 27, 2015. Berkeley, CA.
University of California.

December 11, 2014. Minneapolis, MN.
Made in Minnesota: Celebrating university innovators.

December 9, 2014. New York, NY.
Influx and Exodus: Two Conversations on Urban Density.

December 3, 2014. New York, NY.
Re-Programming Mobility: What Do Smart Phones and Self-Driving Cars Mean for Future Cities?

December 2, 2014. Cambridge, MA.
Harvard Graduate School of Design.

November 24, 2014. New York, NY.
Frog Design.

November 19-21, 2014. Santa Fe, NM.
“Acting Locally, Understanding Globally.” Santa Fe Institute.

November 12, 2014. New York, NY.
Urban Salon: NYC Transportation in 2030.

November 11, 2014. London, United Kingdom.
Grimshaw Architects.

November 11, 2014. London, United Kingdom.

November 10, 2014. London, United Kingdom.
Airport Operators Association.

October 23, 2014. New York, NY.
Jane Jacobs Forum.

October 22, 2014. Brooklyn, NY.
Makeshift Society.

October 10, 2014. Ottawa, ON.
Canada Council for the Arts.

October 9, 2014. Baltimore, MD.
Element Vehicle Management Services.

September 28-30, 2014. Los Angeles, CA.

September 22-23, 2014. Toronto, ON.

September 16, 2014. Detroit, MI.
Techonomy Detroit.

July 28, 2014. Los Angeles, CA.
Global Business Travel Association.

July 14, 2014. New York, NY.
Center for Architecture.

June 27-30, 2014. Aspen, CO.
Aspen Ideas Festival.

June 23-25, 2014. Denver, CO.
Clinton Global Initiative America.

June 20, 2014. Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions.

June 19, 2014. Dallas, TX.
The Purpose City.

June 18, 2014. Mississauga, ON.
Element Fleet Management.

June 17, 2014. Dallas, TX.
New Cities Summit.

June 16, 2014. Dallas, TX.
Ericsson & UN Habitat.

June 10, 2014. Chicago, IL.

June 4, 2014. Venice, Italy.
STREAM Lectures at the Venice Architecture Biennale.

June 2, 2014. Montreal, QC.
Canadian Automobile Association.

May 21, 2014. New York, NY.
Internet Week New York.

May 20, 2014. Seattle, WA.

May 20, 2014. Seattle, WA.

May 16, 2014. Angeles City, Philippines.
Clark Aviation Conference 2014.

May 13, 2014. Manila, Philippines.
The American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.

May 8, 2014. Sao Paulo, Brazil.

April 25, 2014. Chicago, IL.
American Society of Landscape Architects.

April 22, 2014. New York, NY.
The New York Times’ Cities for Tomorrow

April 11, 2014. New York, NY.
Mobilities in Cities: From Visible to Invisible.

April 9, 2014. Toronto, ON.
Smart Cities Canada.

April 1, 2014. New York, NY.
Extrastatecraft: A Salon with Keller Easterling.

March 22, 2014. New Orleans, LA.
Sun Life Financial.

March 10, 2014. New York, NY.
Youth Think Tank: The Next Big Ideas from the Next Generation,” 92nd St. Y.

March 6, 2014. Mountain View, CA.
Cities on the Move.

February 27, 2014. New York, NY.
Smart Law for Smart Cities.

February 14, 2013. Los Angeles, CA.

January 30, 2014. New York, NY.
When Computers Take Over The City,” World Policy Institute.

January 16, 2014. Garden City, NY.
Build a Better Burb: ParkingPLUS Design Challenge.

January 14, 2014. Calgary, AB.
City of Calgary.

December 10, 2013. Washington, DC.
Atlantic Council 2013 Strategic Foresight Forum.

November 25-26, 2013. King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia.

November 20, 2013. London, United Kingdom.
WorkTech13 London.

November 18-19, 2013. Miami, FL.
NEST Forum.

November 3, 2013. Baltimore, MD.
Boyd Group International Aviation Forecast Summit.

November 1, 2013. New York, NY.
Building the Digital City.

October 22, 2013. Las Vegas, NV.
CoreNet Global Summit.

October 12, 2013. New York, NY.
NYU Drones & Aerial Robotics Conference.

October 3, 2013. Buenos Aires, Argentina.
WorkTech13 Buenos Aires.

September 27, 2013. Reno, NV.
Design Matters 2013.

September 26, 2013. Sydney, Australia.
CoreNet Sydney Symposium.

September 23, 2013. Niagara Falls, ON.

September 19, 2013. Atlanta, GA.
Global Workspace Association.

September 17, 2013. Bolingbrook, IL.
Will County Center for Economic Development.

August 20, 2013. New York, NY.
Tech Tuesdays at the Seaport: Five Ideas To Change The City.

July 18, 2013. New York, NY.
World Policy Institute Political Salon.

July 11, 2013. New York, NY.
IIDA Facilities Forum.

June 28, 2013. Los Angeles, CA.
Extreme IDEAS: Runway.

June 21, 2013. Prague, Czech Republic.
reSITE 2013.

June 20, 2013. Istanbul, Turkey.
Urban Land Institute.

June 19, 2013. London, United Kingdom.
Urban Land Institute Europe Trends Conference.

June 18, 2013. Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Urban Land Institute.

June 11, 2013. Los Angeles, CA.
UCLA cityLab

June 4-5, 2013. Sao Paulo, Brazil.
New Cities Summit

May 22, 2013. Los Angeles, CA.
Extreme IDEAS: Architecture at the Intersection.

May 16, 2013. New York, NY.
WorkTech13 New York.

May 15, 2013. Atlanta, GA.
Brownfields 2013.

May 13, 2013. New York, NY.
“Which Cities Will Survive the 21st Century?” New America Foundation.

May 7, 2013. Rapid City, SD.
Rapid City Chamber of Commerce.

May 2, 2013. New York, NY.
World Policy Institute: Around the Table.

April 22-23, 2013. New York, NY.
Assocation of Corporate Travel Executives.

April 17-19, 2013. Tempe, AZ.
“Urbanization, Sustainability, Resilience, and Prosperity” Workshop, Arizona State University.

April 1, 2013. New York, NY.
New York University.

March 20, 2013. Ontario, CA.
State of the City 2013.

March 11, 2013. Boston, MA.

February 21, 2013. Angeles City, Philippines.
Clark Aviation Conference.

February 20, 2013. Manila, Philippines.
The American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.

December 6, 2012. London, United Kingdom.
London School of Economics: Urban Age.

November 20, 2012. Princeton, NJ.
Princeton University School of Architecture.

November 15, 2012. Barcelona, Spain.
Smart City Expo World Congress 2012.

November 7, 2012. Menlo Park, CA.
The Institute for the Future 2012 Technology Horizons Conference.

November 1, 2012. Boston, MA.
The Boston Society of Architects.

October 13, 2012. Brooklyn, NY.

October 12, 2012. New York, NY.
Columbia University: The Global Street.

September 25, 2012. New York, NY.
Columbia University GSAPP.

September 19, 2012. Moncton, NB.
The 2012 Air Cargo Logistics Symposium.

September 2, 2012. Salzburg, Austria.

July 26, 2012. Los Angeles, CA.
CoreNet Los Angeles.

June 4, 2012. New York, NY.
Cornell University.

May 21, 2012. Haifa, Israel.
Intel Labs Future of Work 2012 Summit

May 16, 2012. Louisville, KY
Kentucky CCIM

May 15, 2012. Kansas City, MO.

May 11, 2012. New York, NY.
Fordham University Smart City Symposium. Open to all. RSVP required.

May 3, 2012. New York, NY.
World Policy Institute 50th Anniversary and Celebration.

May 1, 2012. Seattle, WA.
Commercial Brokers Association.

April 27, 2012. New York, NY.
New York University.

April 23, 2012. New York, NY.
World Policy Institute & Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. “The Future of the City.” 6:30 PM.

April 19, 2012. New York, NY.
Studio-X X-Cities 4, featuring Living PlanIT and Songdo IBD. Free and open to all.

April 18, 2012. St. Petersburg, FL.
American Real Estate Society.

April 10, 2012. New York, NY.
Studio-X X-Cities 3, featuring IBM’s Guru Banavar. Free and open to all.

April 5, 2012. Hillsboro, OR.
Intel Labs 2012 Trendspotting Summit.

March 29, 2012. Albuquerque, NM.
Albuquerque Downtown Action Team.

March 28, 2012. Albuquerque, NM.
Bookworks. Discussion and signing. Free and open to the public.

March 20, 2012. New York, NY.
Studio-X X-Cities 2. Free and open to all.

March 14, 2012. New York, NY.
School of the Visual Arts.

March 12, 2012. Muscat, Oman.
The Sindbad Lecture.

March 11, 2012. Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Middle East Facilities Management Association.

March 9, 2012. Providence, RI.
Brown University Urban Affairs conference.

February 21, 2012. New York, NY.
Studio-X X-Cities series. Free and open to all.

February 15, 2012. Washington, DC.
Research In Motion.

February 14, 2012. New York, NY.
Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream. Exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.

January 24, 2012. Seattle, WA.

November 14, 2011. New York, NY.
World Policy Institute Political Salon.

November 10, 2011. New York, NY.
L2 Innovation Forum.

November 7, 2011. Montreal, QC.
The Association of Corporate Travel Executives.

October 31-November 1, 2011. London, United Kingdom.
The Airport Operators Association.

October 20, 2011. New York, NY.
Asia Society New York. Registration required. Open to all.

October 14, 2011. Phoenix, AZ.
CCIM Live.

October 13, 2011. Ottawa, ON.
Ontario Professional Planners Institute.

October 5, 2011. New York, NY
Columbia University, Committee for Global Thought.

October 4, 2011. Destin, FL.
Gulf Power Economic Symposium.

September 27, Washington D.C.
The National Building Museum. 6:30 PM. Reading and discussion. Admission required; open to all.

September 20, 2011. New York, NY
Columbia University, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.

September 18, 2011. Brooklyn, NY
Brooklyn Book Festival. 4 PM at Brooklyn Historical Society Library. Free and open to all.

September 17, 2011. Queens, NY.
“Foreclosed” Open Studios. 12-6 PM at MoMA PS1. Open to the public.

September 15, 2011. Champaign, IL.
TEDxUIllinois. Free; visit the site to request an invitation.

September 3-4, 2011. Decatur, GA.
The AJC Decatur Book Festival. Open to the public.

August 29-30, 2011. Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Medical Travel Meeting Brazil.

June 29-30, 2011. Chicago, IL
The Clinton Global Initiative: CGI America.

June 18, 2011. Queens, NY.
“Foreclosed” workshop presentations. 2 PM at MoMA PS1. Open to the public.

June 7, 2011. New York, NY.
The New York Public Library. 6:30 PM. Discussion and signing. Free and open to all.

June 6, 2011. Washington D.C.
Intelligent Cities Forum.

May 23, 2011. Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
DIFC Economics Workshop.

May 11, 2011. Denver, CO.
Metro Denver Aviation Coalition.

May 10, 2011. Denver, CO.
Tattered Cover Book Store. 7 PM. Reading and discussion. Free and open to all.

May 7, 2011. New York, NY.
Pecha Kucha #11, “The Dimensions of a New City.” 11:29 PM at the Old School Gym, 268 Mulberry Street.

May 7, 2011. Queens, NY.
“Foreclosed” preliminary presentations. 2 PM at MoMA PS1. Open to the public.

May 2, 2011. Chicago, IL.
CoreNet Global Summit.

April 28, 2011. New York, NY.
The Frequent Traveler Awards.

April 20, 2011. New York, NY.
Talking Books with the Architectural League of New York. McNally Jackson Bookstore, 7 PM. Free and open to all.

April 14, 2011. Brooklyn, NY.
The Futurist and Kite Flying Society of Galapagos Art Space. 7 PM. Registration required. Open to all.

April 13, 2011. Memphis, TN.
FedEx Corporation.

April 12-13, 2011. Memphis, TN.
Airport Cities 2011.

April 11, 2011. Memphis, TN.
Davis-Kidd Booksellers. 6 PM. Free and open to all.

April 8, 2011. New York, NY.
PSFK New York.

April 5, 2011. Los Angeles, CA.
Architecture and Design Museum.

April 4, 2011. San Francisco, CA.
World Affairs Council of Northern California.

April 1, 2011. Berkeley, CA.
University of California Architecture Research Colloquium.

March 31, 2011. Portland, OR.
Powell’s City of Books.

March 30, 2011. Seattle, WA.
Town Hall Seattle.

March 29, 2011. Irving, TX.
The World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth and The Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce.

March 24, 2011. Kankakee, IL.
The Kankakee Public Library.

March 23, 2011. Chicago, IL.
The Book Cellar.

March 22, 2011. Chicago, IL.
The Chicago Council of Global Affairs.

March 21, 2011. Cambridge, MA.
Harvard Bookstore.

March 20, 2011. New York NY.
The Left Forum.

March 16, 2011. Atlanta, GA.
Atlantic Station.

March 11, 2011. Louisville, KY.
Greater Louisville Inc.

February 23-24, 2011. San Francisco, CA.
Global Green Cities of the 21st Century.

October 18, 2010. Shanghai, China.
2010 China Innovation Forum.

October 1, 2010. New York, NY.
“Cities and Eco-Crises,” Columbia University.

August 25-28, 2010. Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Medical Travel Meeting Brazil.

August 2, 2010. San Carlos, CA.
Singularity University.

June 9-10, 2010. Las Vegas, NV.
Realcomm 2010.

April 21-23, 2010. Beijing, China.
Airport Cities 2010.

April 1, 2010. Champaign, IL.

September 15, 2009. Atlanta, GA.

April 28-29, 2009. Taipei, Taiwan.
International Aerotropolis Conference.

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December 28, 2014  |  permalink

Cities on the Move


(Global Solution Networks, a research initiative of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto, in collaboration with The Tapscott Group — an international think tank headed by Don Tapscott — asked me to prepare a report on new approaches to urban mobility in an era of mega-urbanization, economic austerity, and climate change. The introduction to the report is below; the complete report is available for download at the GSN Website.)


Catalyzing urban mobility in an era of mega-urbanization, economic austerity, and climate change demands new approaches to transportation planning and policy, especially in the megacities of the Global South. Tackling traffic congestion in such cities as Nairobi, Manila, Delhi, and Mexico City is essential to reducing carbon emissions while increasing the scope of inhabitants’ opportunities and quality-of-life.

Tackling traffic problems will require marshaling untapped resources and recruiting unlikely allies. Conventional transportation planning by public- and private-sector actors alike ignore the informal transportation networks ferrying millions of commuters daily, whether they’re dollar vans in New York or matatus in Nairobi. New technologies and services will play a pivotal role in discovering, integrating, and delivering more inclusive, more fluid, and less polluting transportation networks comprising existing modes, from metros and bus rapid transit (BRT) to rickshaws and unlicensed jitneys.

In this context, Global Solution Networks are emerging around what has been called the “new mobility” — a shift away from private motor vehicles toward multi-modal networks mediated by information. Some of these networks are generating and safeguarding the new data standards and protocols enabling these networks; others are introducing and lobbying for more sustainable and more equitable transportation policies around such networks; and still others are delivering services that are neither traditional public transit nor private operators, but a more resilient hybrid.

Hot, Broke, and Gridlocked

Mobility and congestion have become paramount issues for cities facing an unprecedented wave of rural-to-urban migration. More than half the world’s population — 3.5 billion people — now live in cities, and their numbers are expected to nearly double by 2050 at a rate of more than a million migrants weekly.

An enormous quantity of infrastructure is required to house, employ, and transport these new arrivals — an estimated $350 trillion worth, of which $84 trillion should be earmarked for moving people and goods.  Arguably, transportation is the most important investment cities can make, given its impact on land use, labor mobility, energy consumption, and air pollution, all of which in turn have profound implications for both accessibility and sustainability.

The speed and scale of mega-urbanization — and with it, epic traffic congestion and its accompanying climate impact — has overwhelmed policymakers.  They struggle to understand new patterns of informal transit, are unable to finance large investments due to austerity, and have largely been unable to reach consensus on how to integrate existing investments into a more coherent mobility system.

» Continue reading...

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December 18, 2014  |  permalink

Influx and Exodus: Two Conversations on Urban Density


(On December 9, 2014, I moderated a pair of back-to-back panels at the Van Alen Institute on “Influx and Exodus: Two Conversations on Urban Density.” The following description by Jas Singh was published by the World Policy Institute, which co-sponsored the event.)

From Sao Paulo to Lagos, the increasing globalization of the market economy in the 21st century has catalyzed existing rural-to-urban population migration trends. With an estimated forecast of three-quarters of the world’s population living in cities by 2050, this demographic pattern will become more and more prevalent. By contrast, legacy cities of the American Rust Belt are suffering the effects of urban decay as a result of a shrinking industrial sector and declining populations.

In both cases, there are potentially crucial lessons to be gleaned about the social, economic, and political consequences of such dramatic population shifts. To this end, in partnership with the Van Alen Institute, the World Policy Institute hosted “Influx and Exodus: Two Conversations on Urban Density.” In back-to-back panel discussions, the central concern was how city infrastructure and policy can be designed to keep pace with the demographic shifts that accompany rapid economic growth and decline. 

Greg Lindsay, a senior fellow at World Policy Institute and a director of its Emergent Cities Project, moderated both discussions. The first part “Exodus,” featured Alan Mallach, senior fellow at Center for Community Progress; Nadine Maleh, a director at Inspiring Places; and Nick Hamilton, a project manager at the American Assembly and head of the Legacy Cities Partnership. The panelists discussed the best methods for repurposing aging infrastructure and adapting the delivery of fundamental services to the residents living in legacy cities.

Mallach began by focusing on urban planning strategies to tackle the inherent problem of the physical environment that all ailing cities face: a surplus of buildings and ground relative to demand. The simplest and most cost-effective of these was instituted by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society through the Land Care Program, which resolved the problem of empty lots becoming dumping grounds by planting grass and trees and installing a simple split rail fence. On the other end of the spectrum, in a far more sophisticated approach, Baltimore used a triage strategy to identify the areas of the city that would generate the greatest social and economic benefits from demolition, housing rehabilitation, and real estate development.

Maleh then discussed the importance of a decentralized approach to real estate design in case studies of Brownsville, NY and Northeast Hartford, Connecticut. Both of these communities can be described as “urban-rural,” as they are urban in fabric but rural in their disconnection from city centers and city resources. Maleh stressed that it is critical to activate resident engagement in the cities’ revitalization efforts as the residents’ needs have evolved considerably over the lifetime of the cities.

Despite their fiscal downturns, Hamilton stressed legacy cities should be viewed as assets given that the aggregate of fifty legacy cities in the United States have a metropolitan economy of $2.6 trillion—larger than that of France. However, given the cities’ limited resources in unlocking their own economic potential, it is important that investments be carefully targeted and clustered to generate the greatest return. Further, multiple actors need to be involved in this effort, from metropolitan areas to the federal government.

In the second part of the discussion, “Influx,” a new panel featured Janice Perlman, founder and president of the Megacities Project and Rachel Peric, deputy director of Welcoming America. The panelists addressed the policies that cities should adopt to adapt to the needs of burgeoning populations.

Perlman emphasized that the consumption and production power of the people living in the world’s informal settlements, whether in Asia, Africa, or Latin America, should not be written off. While currently one billion people live in such settlements without access to urban and social services, this number is projected to increase three-fold by 2050, when one in three people on the planet will be living in settlements unregulated by governments. The magnitude of the social impact of this fact cannot be understated, since 1.4 million people across the world, but especially in the global south, immigrate from rural to urban settings every week.

She further argues that existing programs to address the needs of the informal sector are fraught with problems, because they are not sufficiently localized. Place-based solutions, including 18 national programs, sponsored by the World Bank and UN Habitat, aim to upgrade urban infrastructure without any input from residents and with no mention of social or human services. Frequently, these programs fall behind schedule, exceed budget capacity, and are eventually replaced entirely by bulldozing people’s homes and moving them to public housing, where conditions are usually far worse. Poverty-based solutions, such as conditional cash transfers sponsored by the governments of Mexico and Brazil, are not balanced with purchasing power parity and therefore provide only marginal benefit to urban populations.

In 1988, Perlman founded the Mega-cities Project to advocate an alternative approach to urban reform, one that is youth-led and makes cities youth-participatory. This approach favors scalable, replicable grassroots programming that is supportive of community-based knowledge and expertise. Communities are allowed to decide for themselves what urban reform should mean.

Peric capped the discussion on the domestic front with a focus on how U.S. cities can make themselves more open, inclusive, and welcoming to immigrants in order to revitalize their economies. Citing the example of Nashville, Tennessee, Peric argued that in order to foster a climate of inclusion, cities should implement programming that not only helps new immigrants adapt to new communities but also helps communities adapt to new immigrants. To this end, engagement with local leaders is critical for communities to understand that accepting an influx of immigrants is not only morally imperative but also economically pragmatic.

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December 07, 2014  |  permalink

Stream 3: An Interview with Greg Lindsay


I’m honored to be included among the subjects interviewed in Stream 3, a biennial doorstop of a magazine published by PCA Architects’ founder Philippe Chiambretta (who also hosted my interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist at this summer’s Venice Architecture Biennale). A link to the full PDF of my interview is below; here’s the introduction:

Greg Lindsay explores the financialization of urban planning since the beginning of the twenty-first century, which is normalizing architecture and has driven him to take interest in the informal forms of urban growth. Running counter to the new, overly technological, urban utopias, he feels that our future resides in what calls “smart slums,” an intermediate form composed of informal and negotiated spaces. Thanks to digital technologies, they are made porous and adaptable in a dynamic process which enables them to maintain the intensity that is the real source of wealth in cities. Considering that the form of cities is shaped by transportation, he also delves into the concept of the “aerotropolis:” new cities shaped by and created for air transport, which he describes as the embodiment of globalization.

An Interview with Greg Lindsay (PDF)

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About Greg Lindsay

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Greg Lindsay is a journalist, urbanist, futurist, 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 New Cities Foundation — where he leads the Connected Mobility Initiative — a non-resident senior fellow of The Atlantic Council’s Strategic Foresight Initiative, a visiting scholar at New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management, and a senior fellow of the World Policy Institute.

» More about Greg Lindsay

Articles by Greg Lindsay

Fast Company  |  September 22, 2015

We Spent Two Weeks Wearing Employee Trackers: Here’s What We Learned

Fast Company  |  September 21, 2015

HR Meets Data: How Your Boss Will Monitor You To Create The Quantified Workplace

Inc.  |  March 2015

Which Contacts Should You Keep in Touch With? Let This Software Tell You

Inc.  |  March 2015

5 Global Cities of the Future

Global Solution Networks  |  December 2014

Cities on the Move

Medium  |  November 2014

Engineering Serendipity

New York University  |  October 2014

Sin City vs. SimCity

Harvard Business Review  |  October 2014

Workspaces That Move People

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

» See all articles


November 18, 2015

The Abraaj Group Annual Forum

November 05, 2015

My Foreword To AECOM Strategy Plus’ 2014/2015 Annual Review

November 04, 2015

“Workspaces That Move People” is one of HBR’s 10 Must Reads 2016

November 02, 2015

Numbers and Narrative: “The Fires” Next Time

» More blog posts