April 26, 2020  |  permalink

reSITE Day at Dezeen’s Virtual Design Festival

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For the last two years, I’ve had the privilege of curating Prague’s reSITE, one of the best cities- and design conferences around. I’m pleased that five talks and discussions from last year’s edition — reSITE REGENERATE — will air April 27th as a full day of programming during reSITE Day at Dezeen’s Virtual Design Festival.

In the new reality shaped and defined by the coronavirus pandemic, there is renewed urgency to rethink our urban environments and public spaces. reSITE will present the thoughts and work of five sets of guests who met in Prague last fall to share their thoughts on both the rebirth of cities and the generations of people living within. I’m gratified that rather than feeling as if they belonged to the “before,” they are more relevant than ever with cities’ in the pandemic’s grip. Here’s the lineup (all times EDT).

6 AM: Ravi Naidoo on Creating a Better World Through Creativity
In his opening keynote, Ravi Naidoo, founder of Design Indaba, speaks to, and questions the noble purposes of design. He believes that design is an ultimate toolkit to reimagine the 21st century, capable of enhancing democracy, elevating cultural identity, improving the quality of life and being of service to people. Hear how the South African think-tank, do-tank brings about the idea of a better world through creativity by finding uncanny solutions to foster affordable housing, safer cities, and environmental, social and economic change.

8 AM: Marianthi Tatari on Building Human-Centered Smart-Cities
UNStudio’s Marianthi Tatari (above, right) believes technology still can be an ally in humanity’s struggle against the most pressing issues of today. Her talk at reSITE REGENERATE features the projects of smart neighborhoods in which technology plays a key role across all scales in order to create a living environment that is continuously adapting to the needs of its dwellers.

10 AM: Chris Precht on Reconnecting Architecture and Agriculture
Chris Precht believes architecture has always been driven by fictional stories that subsequently have had a detrimental effect on the natural environment. His own projects seek to synthesize the two biggest polluting industries—architecture and agriculture—in order to create a type of sustainable building that would bring the sense of nature back to our cities. He imagines a world where cities are designed to give back space to nature and reconnect our lives back to our sources of vitality.

12 PM: Bianca Wylie on the Power of the Collective
When corporations are beginning to sound a lot like governments, it is a critical time to rebuild, empower and trust our institutions in order to keep the roles straight. Bianca Wylie, “the Jane Jacobs of smart cities,” (above, left) has made waves in the urban design world for speaking out against digital surveillance in public space. She cast a spotlight on the implications of data mining by private companies and the commoditization of the data gathered from citizens in public spaces. According to Bianca, it is specifically city institutions that should be the bulwarks of democratic resistance to hegemonies of both national governments and big corporations.

2 PM: East Meets West with Beatrice Leanza, Jee Liu, Jamie Wallace + Yoko Choy
reSITE invited Yoko Choy, (below left on the screen) the editor of Wallpaper* China, to discuss recent regenerative developments with London-based studio WallaceLiu and curator Beatrice Leanza (below right on the screen). They cover the differences between working in western countries and China and the challenges it brings. How should we build and design for the next generation? And what values are being changed in the process of regeneration? Drawing on the simple premise of our times - that it is not economic to keep on building - this discussion brings together a myriad of perspectives from architects, a curator and a journalist who work on both sides of the world.

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April 21, 2020  |  permalink

The Big Rethink & CoMotion LIVE

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As part of their efforts to grapple with coronavirus pandemic’s catastrophic effects on cities, their economies, and most of all the victims of the disease and their families and communities, NewCities and CoMotion – the sister organizations of which I am director of research and strategy, respectively — have sprung into action.

For the next five weeks (and likely beyond), NewCities and I are hosting The Big Rethink: Cities After COVID-19, a weekly live Webcast exploring the pandemic’s impact on a different aspect of urbanism each week. The April 7th premiere on the future of public space starring the architect Jeanne Gang, sociologist Richard Sennett, and Los Angeles chief design officer Christopher Hawthorne attracted more than 2,000 participants from 76 countries. The second episode, on how public transit can bounce back after the crisis, attracted more than a thousand.

Please join us on Tuesdays at 12 PM EDT, for the remaining episodes:

April 29th: The Wellbeing Imperative

May 5th: Beyond Megacities: Rethinking Density

May 12th: The How, What, And Where of Work

May 19th: Climate and Decarbonization

May 26th: Lessons for Greenfield Megaprojects

Simultaneously, CoMotion has launched CoMotion LIVE, its own weekly series exploring the pandemic’s impact on various aspects of urban mobility. The most recent episode — “Is Sharing Dead? What Micromobility 2.0 Will Look Like in Post-COVID Cities” — is embedded below; visit CoMotion News to register for future episodes.

Please watch this space as we continue to cover the pandemic’s impacts on cities around the world and develop new formats for convening urban leaders virtually to collaborate on how best to move forward after the immediate crisis.

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April 19, 2020  |  permalink

The CoMotion Podcast: Coronavirus Editions

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The CoMotion Podcast continues with a new format and new episodes pegged to the coronavirus pandemic, covering what it means for ridehailing drivers and micromobility companies as well as public transit operators — the subject of the second episode of The Big Rethink & CoMotion Live, hosted by yours truly. Catch up on the latest episodes:

Episode 62. (Above)  Greg Lindsay sits down with Ivo Cré, Director Policy and Projects at Polis, to talk about how the pandemic is changing the face of mobility in cities, and how those areas are adapting to this new way of life. Greg also chats with Jonah Bliss to discuss how the world is already thinking about reopening global economies, and how the auto industry is having, and will continue to have, serious financial woes.

Episode 61. (Below) Greg Lindsay sits down with Tiffany Chu, CEO and Co-Founder at Remix, to learn what sorts of trends she’s seeing in cities regarding all facets of mobility. Greg also chats with Jonah Bliss to discuss the coronavirus’ continued effect on the world of mobility.

Episode 60. (Bottom) Greg Lindsay sits down with Harry Campbell, Founder & CEO of The Rideshare Guy, to get some real insight into how coronavirus is affecting gig economy workers like rideshare drivers and delivery people. Greg also chats with Jonah Bliss again, to discuss the pandemic’s continued effect on the world of mobility.

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March 31, 2020  |  permalink

NewCities: When a Pandemic Goes Viral

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What a difference a month makes. My March began with a family Spring Break trip to Disneyland – today it ends with our third week in cozy self-quarantine amidst the steadily mounting severity of the global coronavirus pandemic. With my travel grounded for the foreseeable future and NewCities’ events postponed to the fall, my colleagues and I have turned our attention to how cities will emerge stronger from a crisis that calls urban density into question – and have recruited an all-start list of contributors to help.

Titled “When a Pandemic Goes Viral,” this installment of NewCities’ Big Picture series explores the urban implications of the virus:

• Saskia Sassen asks whether cities are at war – not only with the virus but with unmanageable complexity: “We have increasingly lost control over a rapidly growing range of innovations and conditions. We are on the other side of the curve. Most of us, cannot see or understand, or grasp this. But we also know that across the globe –from the people of the Sahel to Minnesota’s farmers—many in the new generations can see what we can no longer recognize. And they are telling us: Enough!”

Richard Sennett warns against the impulse to tighten surveillance to tame the virus and the incentives to either dismiss the threat or panic.“This is a time to fear the opportunity the pandemic offers the ruling powers, to reject the theatre of panic staged in the media, and to affirm the power of civil society in the city.”

• State of Place’s Mariela Alfonzo offers a ten-point plan for citymakers on how to revitalize public space once “social distancing” is over. “Here’s how I think we should regroup, rethink, retool, and rebuild per our roles as citymakers – as those whose job, and purpose, it is to spark joy by creating places people love…not just despite global crises, in spite of them.”

• Eva Hagberg reflects on how the virus has taken the city from us, and rendered architecture almost meaningless in the interim: “And so for the good of our cities, for the faith that urban life will eventually roar back, we are quarantining. We are returning to architecture as its most basic form, a type of shelter that will not protect us from the storm, nor the virus. But it will demarcate something. The time before we cared. The time now.”

You can read the entire series – with new installments daily – right here.

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March 31, 2020  |  permalink

The CoMotion Podcast Returns

The CoMotion Podcast returns with a new format just in time to cover the COVID-19 pandemic. This week’s episode kicks off with a quick review of the week’s highlights (and lowlights) in mobility with CoMotion director of marketing and media Jonah Bliss, followed by an interview with Paul Comfort, Vice President of Business Development at Trapeze, to discuss how transit agencies are pivoting to stay solvent during these troubled times. Listen above.

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March 09, 2020  |  permalink

What happens to the gig workers first eventually happens to the rest of us.

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CNN’s Luke McGee has a thorough analysis of just how badly the urban precariat class of gig workers – who have no option for working from home, no recourse for not working, and no social safety net – will get screwed by coronavirus. While many other sharp voices are in the piece examining their plight and what cities and governments should do about it (single-payer healthcare would be a damned good start), McGee asked me about the longer-term effects, and I obliged:

Second, what will consumers prioritize? Will they be perturbed that gig workers who might carry a viral infection are driving them around or delivering their food? Or will they be more annoyed at their convenience being disrupted?

And given the normalization of worker dehumanization, what level of sympathy will wealthy customers have for gig workers on the breadline?
This creates a problem for the firms who made this type of work and service possible in the first place, and for the way of life in the world’s towns and cities that have come to rely on them.

“The major metropolises in the global north and south depend on this huge pool of informal workers,” says Greg Lindsay of NewCities. He explains that a trend in “superstar cities” over the past 30 years has been poorer workers being pushed out to make space for wealthy “knowledge workers.”

“Certainly, the gig workers suffer [and] the knowledge workers suffer personally from inconvenience,” says Lindsay. “The bigger question is how the model changes in the future. Uber was working on automated cars and other companies are working on delivery robots and drones. Will this viral outbreak see renewed drive to automate the services industry?”

Views on this vary. While Harper says “investors are more likely to hire and fire a cheap disposable worker than you are to invest in more productive technologies,” Lindsay believes that “companies might see gig workers as the weak link in the chain and work out how to get rid of them as knowledge workers find it easier to work from home and come into contact with fewer people.”

All of which raises the prospect of a future where poorer gig workers are slowly squeezed out of work by machines and driven out of city centers by living costs, meaning the suburbs becoming more populated and vulnerable to outbreaks like Covid-19. Meanwhile, wealthy knowledge workers could live in clean cities with other wealthy people, being waited on hand and foot by robots.

“If you think for 10 years people have been waiting for autonomous cars, this outbreak might shift focus to autonomous everything else as people become scared to death of being around other humans,” says Lindsay.

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March 08, 2020  |  permalink

How to design a smart city that’s built on empowerment—not corporate surveillance

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(Originally published by Fast Company on March 2, 2020.)

Welcome to the city of the future, designed by Sidewalk Labs, an Alphabet subsidiary.

It’s a city where data and algorithms will merge imperceptibly with the physical world. Cameras lining the streets will track and collate objects and people. Heated sidewalks will recognize foot traffic and feed those insights back into retail projections. And a central identity management system will meter usage of basic services such as housing and transportation (while discovering financing and investment opportunities along the way). These exciting new developments supposedly deliver more comfortable, efficient lives for residents, who would probably consider Sidewalk’s harvesting their data a fair trade, as long as they didn’t think too hard about it.

Alphabet is hardly alone in its desire to design, build, and operate cities and neighborhoods from the ground-up. A decade ago, it was technology giants like IBM and Cisco pushing smart cities; today there are entities as varied as Bill Gates, Y Combinator, and the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, along with a host of more modestly ambitious startups such as Culdesac, Venn, and Cityblock.

Governments are partnering with companies like these to build roughly 1,000 smart cities over the next decade at a cost of trillions of dollars. With fewer and fewer opportunities to monopolize our eyeballs, investors are eyeing cities as the next frontier. Perhaps owning how the world’s urbanites “sleep, eat, shop, ride, work, and live” might yet achieve the lofty valuations they’re come to expect.

Who controls the smart city?
But convenience and efficiency come at a price, one that may be higher than anyone expected. To see a glimpse of this future, it’s instructive to look halfway around the world to China, where 50% of these smart cities will be built. In Kashgar, once a stop on the Silk Road and today the capital of the autonomous region of Xinjiang, home to China’s muslim minority Uyghurs, digital surveillance is total. A single street may have 20 cameras tracking each pedestrian’s movements.

These cameras track, classify, and cross-check objects and faces as well, attaching them to a national social credit system, akin to a credit score for one’s entire life. Used to discipline and punish, transgressions that can negatively impact one’s score include support for Tibet, excessive video gaming, and even jaywalking. Nonconformists may be arrested and sent to reeducation camps such as the ones in Xinjiang, or be denied access to public services—like the tens of millions of Chinese banned from flying, or the hundreds of millions currently locked down due to coronavirus.

Technologies of social control and “digital authoritarianism” are proliferating more rapidly than even the for-profit smart city model. Boise State University professor Steven Feldstein has found that 54 countries—representing 60% of the world’s population—have embraced pervasive surveillance, sourced from a coalition of willing vendors ranging from China’s controversial networking giant Huawei to U.K. arms maker BAE to familiar names like Amazon, Microsoft, and, yes, Google. (Sidewalk has proposed a social credit system of its own.) Customers closer to home in the United States include the NYPD and public housing in the Bronx. Silicon Valley has wasted no time hopping on the trend.

While the authoritarian Chinese context is irrefutably different than Google’s, it nevertheless demonstrates how the smart city centralizes power and control.

In Toronto, where Sidewalk intends to put its ideas into practice, the company has repeatedly asked the government for exemptions on behalf of its technology, despite technically being a mere vendor to a public agency. In reality, major governance decisions–including the collection and ownership of data—were made by Sidewalk, and initially rubber-stamped by Waterfront Toronto (the government entity overseeing the project), which was excited to be in such close proximity to “innovation.” (In an agreement reached in October 2019, the latter has since tried to regain control.) But Sidewalk won’t stop in Toronto; leaked documents reveal plans for Denver, Detroit, and the Bay Area as well.

In Sidewalk’s smart cities, what happens to housing, transit, and healthcare when public goods are no longer profitable? If history is any guide, companies may try to build monopolies and starve consumers of alternatives. The European Commission, for example, has repeatedly fined Google for billions of euros for anticompetitive practices; what happens when it’s a matter of switching your home rather than phone?

The city is not a lab
Companies may try to manipulate our behavior as well. Remember Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook data to influence voting patterns? Now imagine what its successors could do with the hopes and fears of Amazon Ring owners, who unwittingly share their digital lives with Facebook and Google.

Or these firms may simply decide to pull the plug. Google infuriated owners of Nest’s Revolv home automation hub when it discontinued the product with little warning in 2016, rendering it useless. More recently, Sonos instituted a “recycling” policy that bricks perfectly functioning devices in exchange for a discount. In the not-so-smart cities of the future, you’d better upgrade, or else. Prudent city leaders have a duty to take a step back before unleashing unproven, and perhaps actively harmful, technologies on their stakeholders.

The city is not a lab; it is not the public’s interest to subsidize private companies’ experiments with little to no oversight. (To say nothing of constructing a surveillance state.) Even major consultancies such as Deloitte have found that most smart cities have failed to improve people’s lives, despite costing governments tens of billions of dollars.

For the reasons above, Georgetown University law professor Julie Cohen argues that the struggle for data rights and privacy is not just about the prevention of harm. It’s the foundation for empowerment—the right to experiment and innovate even when more powerful actors disagree with your ideas and actions.

What might a smart city that starts with empowerment look like?
The World Health Organization found that empowerment is enhanced through a few key levers: 1) supportive groups, 2) meaningful community participation, and 3) resource mobilization.

It starts with people and their ability to participate and mobilize—not new technologies offering dubious benefits and incremental convenience, simply handed down to residents. Empowerment-based approaches have helped marginalized individuals—ranging from slum dwellers to low-income workers—build social capital, receive more responsible public services, and improve their health.

Germany’s baugruppen (“building group”) model is one place to understand empowerment-by-design.

On its face, Berlin’s R50 looks no different than a typical apartment building. But its origins diverge radically from a traditional development project.

First, a few neighbors built a supportive “building group.” Their goal: gather enough friends and fellow travelers to pool their savings and commission their own apartments. In the core of this group were architects and artists, who possessed plenty of social capital they could draw upon but lacked the funds to build or buy homes in central Berlin.

Next, this fledgling baugruppen meaningfully participated in the purpose and design of the building. Assisted by their architect, the group met every two weeks for a year and a half, crowding into a cramped office to collectively agree upon a design.

Through this work, the group uncovered their desire to bolster social support as a key goal of the project. To do so, they prioritized shared community spaces and walkways for their families, despite the extra cost.

Finally, the group mobilized a set of internal and external resources to build their development. They purchased shares of the building before construction had started, which convinced Nürnberg’s UmweltBank, Europe’s self-styled “greenest” bank, to provide financing. Their innovative model also allowed them to take advantage of Berlin’s policy pilot to encourage non-speculative development, helping them win a highly competitive lot at a discount.

Within a few years of building R50 and living together, residents noticed stronger community bonds. As one resident exclaimed, “now that people live here and we see the children grow up . . . [the baugruppen] really works in a nice way.” Due to their community-oriented architecture, it’s easy to “pop over to a neighbor’s for coffee . . . [it] becomes more intimate than crossing a hallway.”

Furthermore, the baugruppen model has enabled them to acquire housing—a basic need—more affordably. Without a developer middleman requiring a 10% to 20% return or marketing and sales costs that reach up to 10% of total development budgets, R50’s units are around 20% less expensive than the neighborhood average, even after including the cost of expensive community spaces and walkways.

Cities need technology—as a means, not an end
What makes baugruppen so smart isn’t technology. It’s the combination of support, participation, and mobilization toward a shared goal, in this case housing. Technology can play a part—an important one!—but it should never determine those goals.

In the case of R50, baugruppen, and other so-called “cohousing” schemes, new building techniques such as modular prefabrication or Mosaic’s machine-learning-driven DIY instructions could simplify housing construction to the point where members could build their homes themselves—or at least radically reduce the cost of using an architect.

As groups get bigger, it becomes harder to make decisions. Consensus-building tools such as Loomio and Decidim have been used to speed up and improve the quality of large group decision-making. There remains a huge opportunity to build social networks designed for real-world communities rather than kludging together group chats and Facebook groups.

Once built, maintenance and administrative costs can also be lessened, too. These are a huge source of headache for condos and coops. To help, residents can use property management solutions to streamline cognitive overhead. Active Building’s or Bixby’s self-service platform, for instance, help renters to pay their bills and request maintenance services from property managers. Boodskapper uses artificial intelligence to make the public housing operations, such as maintenance and inspection, more efficient.

To deal with the exponential complexity of records from cooperative pooling, blockchain-powered smart contracts might help. Pilots exist to use this technology to track equity shares, manage titles, and create larger pools of capital through the use of micro-shares, which are otherwise administratively infeasible to manage.

Finally—to bring this discussion of smart cities full circle–baugruppen could form “datagruppen,” or data trusts, like those used in Barcelona. Residents pool data safely using advanced privacy-protecting methods and allow members to collectively benefit from their data. Trusts are widely seen as a vehicle to promote “data democracies” and bring more along for the technological ride—even Sidewalk Labs is a fan (although trusts are no substitute for legal rights).

The limits of empowerment
For one, cooperatives like baugruppen do not require long-term and holistic affordability. Given rising property values around the world, owners may face temptations to sell their units at speculative prices and capture that value privately. To address this issue, community land trusts (CLT) could own the underlying land and restrict resale prices through lease agreements, so hard-won baugruppen units are taken off the market and instead enable greater socioeconomic, racial, and gender diversity. CLT boards also recruit members of the local community to participate, further increasing community power and decision-making.

More broadly, tools like CLTs fit into what Georgetown Law professor Sheila Foster calls the Co-City Framework, which describes the creation and governance of shared and common resources arising out of collective action. Beyond rent, baugruppen could also participate in consumer utility, food, and transit cooperatives to further drive down the costs of basic needs, as proposed in models like Community Cooperative.

Unfortunately, low-income or historically marginalized groups likely have fewer resources to begin with, even with pooling. In order for empowerment methods to not exclude, inclusive leaders must consider bolder strategies.

First, regulatory incentives could increase building group sizes to increase the financial feasibility of these projects. Policies could include density bonuses, reduced minimum lot size requirements, parking waivers, and other zoning exceptions to permanently affordable and empowering housing models, for instance. Like baugruppen, such scoped deregulation could allow developers to use space more efficiently, perhaps inspired by design innovations like coliving and micro-units—involving the sharing of common spaces and amenities or the use of multi-use furniture.

Ultimately, more units can be built and more resources can be pooled, reducing per-unit costs. As a result, lenders will look more favorably upon these projects. Munich, for instance, offers special regulatory incentives to cooperative housing, regularly favoring these cooperative developers in the sale of public land and offering 20% to 40% discounts on those transactions.

Second, tools like crowdfunding allow projects to pool donations or loans from individuals outside of the project to finance it. It’s proven to be a valuable tool for Oakland’s Permanent Real Estate Cooperative, which covers roughly a quarter of its $200,000 annual maintenance budget through sales of cooperative shares to nonresidents, returning a dividend of 1.5% to investors. Furthermore, financing platforms can help social impact investors—including foundations, Community Revitalization Act-motivated banks, pension funds, and philanthropists—quickly search for and fund projects that align with their values. Platforms like Faithify, Small Change, and BlocPower help raise money for nonprofit housing cooperatives and other mission-oriented housing initiatives for vulnerable communities.

Finally, cooperatives can partner with entities with a portfolio of well-performing assets, creating collateral for leverage. Potential allies include community development corporations or real estate investment cooperatives (REICs). One REIC, the Northeast Investment Cooperative (NEIC) in Minneapolis, not only pools money from local residents, but also collectively buys, rehabs, and manages commercial and residential property in the community. Due to its ownership of thriving, income-generating assets, NEIC has successfully obtained financing for more buildings from local banks to scale its mission of developing even more cooperatives.

Ultimately, even with new tools, the empowerment model we’ve offered here is far less convenient and comfortable than the smart city models of today.

And yet, if we want civic or urban tech to truly be “people-centric” and to solve real problems, they must do the hard work of building civic capacity. That doesn’t mean tasks like parking management or trash collection should never be automated—far from it. New technologies have a crucial role to play in automating drudgery and allow residents to spend more time on things that matter.

But that is the “why” and “how.” Diverse groups must have the opportunity to deliberate and act on these questions. This is a task that should never be automated—certainly not by shareholder-dominated companies.

Dan Wu is a privacy counsel & legal engineer at Immuta, an automated data governance platform for analytics. He’s advocated for data ethics, inclusive urban innovation, and diversity in TechCrunch, Harvard Business Review, and Bloomberg. He’s helped Fortune 500 companies, governments, and startups with data strategy. He holds a Harvard JD and PhD. Find more resources on cities, ethics, and tech here.

Greg Lindsay is the director of applied research at NewCities, and director of strategy at its mobility offshoot CoMotion. He is also a nonresident senior fellow of the Atlantic Council’s Foresight, Strategy, and Risks Initiative; a senior fellow of MIT’s Future Urban Collectives Lab; and a visiting scholar at New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management. His exhibition Open Collectives—in conjunction with MIT’s Rafi Segal, Sarah Williams, and Marisa Moran Jahn—will premiere at the 2020 Venice Architecture Biennale in May.

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February 25, 2020  |  permalink

Supersonic Flight, Drones4All, and Other Bad Ideas

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The New York Times’ aviation writer Christine Negroni was kind enough to quote me as skeptical about a number of trends in aviation – most notably the potential return of supersonic flight and the advent of “urban aerial vehicles,” i.e. helicopter-sized drones for all.

I’m fond of saying that air travel is the closest thing to having the power of a god – the ability to bestride the world in a single day. But some god-like powers come at a higher cost than others, including the extreme carbon footprint of supersonic flight:

Reviving these planes during a time of rising discontent with the unbridled growth of air travel has already prompted pushback.

“Bringing back supersonic transport made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up,” said Greg Lindsay, director of applied research at the urban-focused nonprofit NewCities and a co-author of “Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next.”

“It’s a distillation of the promise of air travel that we can be like gods and travel the earth and be everywhere at once. But why do you need to straddle the earth in a single day?”

I am equally skeptical about the reality of UAVs, which promise to scale up the urban inequality of a city like Sao Paulo – home to the larges private helicopter fleet in the world – without solving any of cities’ transport issues on the ground. In fact, companies like Uber Elevate are actively contributing to those problems:

Eric Allison, head of Uber Elevate, said his company was committed to working with communities on the selection of sky ports, though the sites would still have to make logistical sense.

“To get off the ground we have to be intelligent and deliberate about how we pick the sky ports,” Mr. Allison said, “connecting buses and public transit and cars to make more mobility and give people options.”

Critics say it’s ironic that Uber is promoting the benefits of air transport over traffic-jammed streets considering the role that ride-hailing services have played in creating terrestrial congestion. The San Francisco County Transportation Authority says shared rides were responsible for a 50 percent increase in traffic between 2010 and 2016.

Mr. Lindsay of NewCities said that escaping to the sky could mean problems on the ground are ignored. He pointed to São Paulo, Brazil, where hundreds of helicopters ferry those who can afford it over highway gridlock.

“That’s not about public transportation, that’s about the very wealthy exiting [to] the sky from the traffic problems on the ground,” Mr. Lindsay said.

Read the whole story here.

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February 13, 2020  |  permalink

Brighter Talks #3: Thomas Deloison

(The third episode of “Brighter Talks,” a podcast series by the German plastics giant Covestro I happen to host, is live — and you can listen to it above. A recap of the episode is below.)

We live in a golden age of mobility — more people are moving further and more rapidly around the world. As much as these developments have simplified our way of traveling, they have also created negative externalities. Right now, transportation is the second-greatest source of emissions, meaning 80% of cities today have air quality below the World Health Organization’s recommended level.

In our third episode of Brighter Talks, Thomas Deloison, Director for Mobility at the World Business Council for Sustainable development (WBCSD), discusses which obstacles we face in developing sustainable transport and how we can overcome the limits of our today’s mobility system.

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January 29, 2020  |  permalink

The Takeaways Podcast, Live From NAIOP Southern Nevada

I was in Las Vegas last week for the NAIOP Southern Nevada Forecast 2020, a half-day conference on local real estate trends. As is my lot in life, I was paired with an economist (in this case Moody’s Analytics REIS’ drolly funny Victor Calanog) to provide pictures and stories to match his charts. On the scene was the MDL Group’s Hayim Mizrachi, who also hosts the Takeaways podcast, which we recorded live before my session. Tune in above at the 23:30 mark for the TL;DR version of my talk.

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About Greg Lindsay

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Greg Lindsay is a journalist, urbanist, futurist, and speaker. He is the director of applied research at NewCities and director of strategy at its mobility offshoot CoMotion.  He is also a partner at FutureMap, a geo-strategic advisory firm based in Singapore, a non-resident senior fellow of The Atlantic Council’s Foresight, Strategy, and Risks Initiative, and co-author of Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next.

» More about Greg Lindsay

Articles by Greg Lindsay

Fast Company  |  March 2020

How to design a smart city that’s built on empowerment—not corporate surveillance

URBAN-X  |  December 2019

ZINE 03: BETTER

CityLab  |  December 10, 2018

The State of Play: Connected Mobility in San Francisco, Boston, and Detroit

Harvard Business Review  |  September 24, 2018

Why Companies Are Creating Their Own Coworking Spaces

CityLab  |  July 2018

The State of Play: Connected Mobility + U.S. Cities

Medium  |  May 1, 2017

The Engine Room

Fast Company  |  January 19, 2017

The Collaboration Software That’s Rejuvenating The Young Global Leaders Of Davos

The Guardian  |  January 13, 2017

What If Uber Kills Public Transport Instead of Cars

Backchannel  |  January 4, 2017

The Office of the Future Is…an Office

New Cities Foundation  |  October 2016

Now Arriving: A Connected Mobility Roadmap for Public Transport

Inc.  |  October 2016

Why Every Business Should Start in a Co-Working Space

Popular Mechanics  |  May 11, 2016

Can the World’s Worst Traffic Problem Be Solved?

The New Republic  |  January/February 2016

Hacking The City

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

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The Millennial Dilemma Executive Summary

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The Big Rethink: Wall Street Wants You to Rent Forever with Ryan Dezember

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92nd St. Y: Moving Us in the Gotham of Tomorrow

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The Fast Company Innovation Festival: A New Urban Utopia?

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