November 26, 2022  |  permalink

The Spark on Solutionism & Mutual Aid

Nora Taylor, host of CBC Radio’s The Spark, invited me on to discuss early pandemic-era efforts to organize mutual aid efforts through the same corporate productivity tools remote workers relied on to continue business-as-usual: Slack, AirTable, Google Docs, and more. I’m in good company:

Big Tech aims to solve large social issues, from housing to urban transportation. We discuss tech solutionism with Paris Marx, host of Tech Won’t Save Us podcast, author of Road to Nowhere: What Silicon Valley Gets Wrong About the Future of Transportation. And, with massive layoffs happening all over Silicon Valley, and the sale of Twitter throwing social media into chaos, is it time to rekindle the cooperatives movement in tech? Nathan Schneider, professor of media studies at University of Colorado, Boulder and director of the Media Enterprise Design Lab, talks about tech co-ops. Then, Greg Lindsay, urban tech fellow at Cornell Tech University and a senior fellow at MIT’s Future Urban Collective, talks about peer-to-peer solutions focused on mutualism and solidarity in times of crisis.

Listen to the whole episode here.

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November 08, 2022  |  permalink

Lightbox PRISM 2022

I was delighted to deliver the opening keynote at the Lightbox PRISM 2022 conference last month on how “software is eating commercial real estate” (and the world, of course). One of my topics was climate change — as you might expect given my work for Climate Alpha. As it turns out, I was only the first among many speakers to raise the subject. From Lightbox’s recap of the event:

In a keynote presentation, Greg Lindsay, chief communications officer of Climate Alpha, a location analysis platform steering governments and investments towards more climate-resilient geographies, discussed how post-pandemic trends and climate change are reshaping the work environment. Lindsay shared that now is an opportune time for us to reimagine what cities and real estate should be. An estimated 40 percent of Americans suffered from some form of climate disaster last year, whether flooding or hurricanes or wildfires or wildfire smoke damaging the air quality in places like the Pacific Northwest and the Rockies near Colorado. Fortunately, technology has given us powerful tools to deal with climate change. 

Changing work habits are affecting the planet. Six times more people are working at home than before the pandemic, and that can’t happen without massive ramifications for the built environment. We’re seeing the rise of new real estate trends, such as individuals who need more space moving into single-family rentals because multifamily can’t accommodate them—and because the U.S. never built enough new homes after the financial crash.

Read the rest here.

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November 06, 2022  |  permalink

What Is The Metaverse Metropolis?

1. What is “The Metaverse Metropolis?”

The Metaverse Metropolis is a new initiative of the Urban Tech Hub of the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech (seen above). Befitting the Hub’s mission to improve people’s lives, train the next generation of urban technologists, and convene cities, companies, and communities to achieve better outcomes, the project aims to build a coalition of municipalities, metaverse builders, designers, legal experts, and citizens to design and deploy industry standards and best practices for public safety in augmented reality environments.

The goal is to define the metaverse equivalent of the traffic light or stop sign — clear, universal signals and infrastructure expressly designed to protect everyone in the public realm, including those in its new virtual dimensions. By starting now and working together to save lives and ground safety at the center of any real-world metaverse, we can begin to lay the foundations for a new generation of computing that is inherently urban.

2. What do you mean by “the Metaverse,” exactly?

This project is specifically concerned with augmented reality (AR) and “extended” reality (XR), which overlay visuals and information on the physical world through the use of headsets and handheld devices. This differs from virtual reality (VR), which typically aims to create self-enclosed worlds with their own dynamics. For example, Niantic’s Pokémon Go is an augmented reality game, using real world locations and infrastructure as backdrops, while Roblox and Minecraft are proto-metaverses inviting players to create their own virtual spaces in 3D-rendered environments.

Reflecting this divide, AR is sometimes described as “spatial computing” and the “real-world metaverse,” foregrounding the importance of physical world. This is why it’s critical to ensure cities and their inhabitants have a say in the implementation of augmented reality at scale.

3. Why augmented reality? Why now?

Why AR rather than VR? Consider Pokémon Go, which in 2016 briefly became the most popular smartphone app on Earth. Players chasing digital creatures stormed businesses, stampeded through parks, and erased the line between online and off-. Tragically, some chose to play while driving. By one back-of-the-envelope estimate, vehicular crashes caused by Pokémon Go may have killed hundreds and injured tens of thousands of bystanders in its first few months alone. Given a precipitous rise in pedestrian fatalities over the last two years, how do we ensure the real-world metaverse won’t make reality worse?

Why now? Because for more than a decade, cities have suffered from the unintended consequences of disruptive business models designed to wring value from urban space. Whether ride-hailing, short-term rentals, or the “sharing economy” writ large, they have increased congestion, shrank housing supply, and exacerbated inequality in favor of a fortunate few. Only after great effort did public officials learn how to regulate and partner with these startups to share the benefits and burdens of their technologies. As technology giants such as Meta (and perhaps soon, Apple) launch new XR headsets, it’s imperative cities prepare for the implications of a real-world metaverse.

4. What do you hope to achieve?

Over the next year, the Jacobs Urban Tech Hub at Cornell Tech will convene partners and stakeholders to explore the urban implications of widespread augmented reality hardware and software, with a particular focus on inequality and potential impacts on already marginalized communities. During the course of The Metaverse Metropolis, we will explore the implementation of voluntary standards guaranteeing interoperable safety across all major platforms. While industry and practitioners groups such as the Metaverse Standards Forum, XR Association, and XR Guild are already doing vital work in creating open and ethical standards, cities have typically not been participants until now.

5. How can I help?

We can’t do this alone — we need your help. We are actively seeking partners to increase the number of participants and widen the scope of our activities over the next year. We are specifically seeking partner cities and governments willing to devote staff time and resources to help guide the creation of standards; companies eager to ensure their real-world metaverse is compatible with improving people’s lives; designers, artists, and technologists grappling with new visual languages and wayfinding for an augmented world; and activists determined to not repeat the same mistakes of previous inequitable urban technologies.

We all have a vested interest in ensuring the metaverse is safe and accessible to all — join us today to act on it.

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October 12, 2022  |  permalink

The Construction Disruption Podcast

Isaiah Industries’ Todd Miller recently invited me on his “Construction Disruption” podcast for a wide-ranging chat. Listen to the embedded audio above or hit the link for the podcast platform of your choice. Here’s a little of what we talked about:

As our world grows and evolves, technology and humanity intersect in complex and often unexpected ways. Artificial intelligence is a prime example, as it improves alongside human understanding, making a powerful partner in work and play. We’ve already seen AI create art, write stories, and win at chess and Jeopardy. Who knows what the future holds?

Futurists like Greg Lindsay interpret the web of humanity and technology to predict the state of the world in the next five, fifty, and five hundred years. Greg is a journalist turned futurist, bringing a critical eye to issues like transportation, mixed reality, housing, and urban planning.

In this episode, Greg discusses solutions for affordable housing, troubling traffic statistics, worldwide responses to the pandemic, the air travel boom, and his experiences living across the globe.

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October 04, 2022  |  permalink

Moss Adams’ Building Opportunity 2022

The folks at Moss Adams asked me to return as the opening keynote of their Building Opportunity 2022 conference, in a reprise of my opening address two years, during the depths of the pandemic. Needless to say, things have been looking for cities since then. Watch my hour-long virtual address above or on YouTube; an overview is below.

Outmigration from major cities into more rural areas—and a new era of accessibility of goods and services through technology—are changing real estate as we know it. This, in turn, means rethinking who and what cities are for and what they should look like in the future.

Watch our on-demand webcast, The Future of Cities and Urban Planning. With more than a decade of writing and research on globalization, urbanism, innovation, and adaptability, urbanist and futurist speaker Greg Lindsay addresses the impact of recent trends on the future of cities.

This is one webcast in our four-part virtual 2022 Building Opportunity Conference.

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September 18, 2022  |  permalink

Denver Post: With Colorado “getting strange,” Michigan may be the place to be as climate changes

My fall speaking tour kicked off out west this week with the RE/MAX Commercial Symposium in Tucson on Tuesday, followed by a short hop to Denver for the Colorado Commercial Real Estate Symposium. (Are you sensing a theme?) My talk in Denver was covered by The Denver Post, which made me sound maybe a little more alarmist than I had intended. (Okay, it was exactly the level of alarmism I was aiming for.) From their story:

People who relocated during the pandemic favored areas at higher risk of disruption due to climate change, but they may come to regret those moves over the long term, futurist Greg Lindsay told a gathering of the Denver Metro Commercial Association of Realtors on Thursday morning.

“Americans are moving in the wrong direction,” Lindsay said of migration patterns during the pandemic, and even before. “Markets are underpricing climate risk.”

Wrong as in moving from cooler northern coastal areas and the upper Midwest to the Sunbelt. Wrong as in moving to Arizona and Nevada, popular states that suffer from ever-increasing temperatures and worsening drought. Wrong as in flocking in large numbers to coastal Florida and Miami, where rising water levels could submerge vast swaths of land in coming decades if powerful hurricanes don’t scrape them first.

Read the rest here.

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September 09, 2022  |  permalink

Condé Nast Traveler: How These 4 Countries Are Designing Futuristic Cities—From Floating Neighborhoods to Mega-Metropolises

Condé Nast Traveler’s Tom Vanderbilt was kind enough to quote me in his roundup of futuristic new cities from around the globe, ranging from Saudi Arabia’s NEOM to Oceanix’ proposed floating city off the coast of Busan, South Korea, to more prosaic efforts like Egypt’s new administrative capital. I couldn’t help but pour a little cold water on the idea:

Might any of these projects live up to the outsize dreams of their creators? The jury is out. “What makes a successful city is that it possesses a level of social and economic complexity,” says Greg Lindsay, a senior fellow at MIT’s Future Urban Collectives Lab. “Most of the city builders I’ve worked with still struggle with understanding how to build that.” The desire to create iconic architecture and high-tech infrastructure often overlooks all those bottom-up, unsexy things that make a city tick.

Read the rest here.

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September 05, 2022  |  permalink

Cartus’ Mobility Matters Podcast: Exploring the Future of Cities Post-COVID with Futurist Greg Lindsay

My friends at Cartus — the corporate mobility specialists every Relo knows intimately and few others do — invited me to speak at their client conference this spring and then invited me back onto their podcast, which you can listen to here or below. (Apple, Spotify, and other formats are available as well.)

Here’s what you’re missing:

From futuristic technology to providing for highly skilled workers in a competitive talent market, this bonus episode takes a deep dive into the future of mobility. We explore remote work, flexibility in the workplace, and mobility challenges and opportunities across the world.

In this fast-paced episode led by Cartus’ Dalia Begin and Trevor Macomber, listeners will learn valuable insights and knowledge provided by two-time Jeopardy Champion, Greg Lindsay. Don’t miss it!

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August 22, 2022  |  permalink

Central Houston Inc.‘s State & Future of Downtown 2022 Preview

I’m honored to have been asked to deliver the opening keynote at Central Houston Inc.‘s State & Future of Downtown event on Nov. 4th. Just to give you a taste of what’s to come, CHI’s Kim Scates and I caught up on what I’ve been working on. Video above — don’t watch if you don’t want any spoilers on my upcoming projects!

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July 09, 2022  |  permalink

How so-called “quick commerce” is “damaging the cityscape”

The Thomson Reuters Foundation’s Carey L. Biron was kind enough to include me as the fly-in-the-ointment in his recent story on online grocery delivery’s effects on cities. While most of the sources quoted gush about its prospects to alleviate food deserts (doubtful, given their focus on non-perishable, high-turnover SKUs), I sounded a more cautious note, one familiar to anyone who read my Bloomberg Citylab story with Lev Kushner from last December. Here’s my brief contribution:

Prioritizing delivery services can end up “damaging the cityscape,” said Greg Lindsay, a senior fellow at NewCities, a global nonprofit.

In an effort to be as close as possible to customers, some delivery groups have taken over storefronts as “microwarehouses” and logistics hubs that can detract from street life and thus potentially hurt other shops, he said.

“It was already hard enough to make it as a small business, and this makes it harder to survive,” he said.

Read the entire thing here.

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About Greg Lindsay

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Greg Lindsay is a generalist, urbanist, futurist, and speaker. He is the chief communications officer at Climate Alpha, an urban tech fellow at Cornell Tech’s Jacobs Institute, , a senior fellow of MIT’s Future Urban Collectives Lab, and a non-resident senior fellow of The Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Strategy Initiative.

» More about Greg Lindsay

Articles by Greg Lindsay

-----  |  January 1, 2022

2022 Speaking Topics

CityLab  |  December 7, 2021

The Dark Side of 15-Minute Grocery Delivery

Fast Company  |  June 2021

Why the Great Lakes need to be the center of our climate strategy

Fast Company  |  March 2020

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

URBAN-X  |  December 2019


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

» See all articles


November 26, 2022

The Spark on Solutionism & Mutual Aid

November 08, 2022

Lightbox PRISM 2022

November 06, 2022

What Is The Metaverse Metropolis?

October 12, 2022

The Construction Disruption Podcast

» More blog posts