May 10, 2023  |  permalink

DEPT: Prepare To Pioneer

Never has there been a more important time to think in new ways, to innovate, to go first… to pioneer. But with so much information, choices, technologies, platforms and channels available, it’s hard to know where to focus.

That’s why DEPT® is bringing together experts in emerging technologies (think AI/ML), emerging media platforms (we’re looking at you, TikTok) along with the most creative marketers in the game to help you pioneer the future of digital experiences for your brand.

During this two-hour virtual event, you’ll hear from industry leaders such as Mutale Nkonde, AI policy advisor and founder and CEO at AI for the People, and executives from Hootsuite, Rad Power Bikes, Prisoner Wine Company, Moet Hennessy, Forrester and more.

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May 08, 2023  |  permalink

CoMotion LIVE: The Future of Air Travel

Why are airports recently getting makeovers? How are airports and airlines prioritizing the customer to reduce the typically stressful travel experience and create more seamless and enjoyable journeys? What role do different airlines play in enticing travelers to use airport services? And how can technology optimize the travel time and experience within the airport?

I had the pleasure of moderating this CoMotion Miami preview with Teague technical director Warren Schram and Alaska Airlines’ director of airport lobby transformation Amber Simonsen on the post-pandemic, post-9/11 air travel experience, which has arrived at long last. Watch above.

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April 30, 2023  |  permalink

The Inaugural Metaverse & Cities Summit

The inaugural Metaverse & Cities Summit is a wrap! It was a thrilling two days of discussion, debate, networking, walking tours — courtesy of our partners at inCitu — and even drinks on a boat (courtesy of our Dutch partners’ Kingsday celebration).

I want to thank everyone who joined us, including NYU SPS Dean Angie Kamath; inCitu’s Dana Chermesh-Reshef, Ziv Schneider, Tyce Herrman, and Nick Kaufmann; Living CitiesDennis Crowley; Smart Columbus’ Jordan Davis; Washington DC’s Ernest Chrappah; Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners’ David Gilford; my Jacobs Urban Tech Hub colleagues Nneka Sobers and Anthony Townsend; and so many more.

But I want to especially thank my co-hosts, the Sharing Cities AllianceHarmen van Sprang, and Elizabeth Haas — newly installed as the inaugural director of the NYU SPS Metaverse Collaborative! Here’s to many more collaborations in the future.

If you’re reading this and feeling metaverse FOMO, never fear. inCitu is hosting an augmented reality Janes Walk scavenger hunt on May 6, and The Metaverse Metropolis returns with more public events June and July. Hit me up if you’d like to join us.

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April 29, 2023  |  permalink

OHNY: Connecting Cities to the Metaverse

On the eve of the inaugural Metaverse & Cities Summit, my friends and partners at Open House New York hosted a curtain-raiser of sorts on Zoom. Featuring a trio of current- and former public officials from New York City and Washington D.C., the session dwelled on such fundamental questions as what is the metaverse good for? And what should cities do with it? To answer those questions, watch the video above — or at least read the description below:

The Metaverse is no longer solely the realm of the tech sector. Cities across the country are busy exploring how virtual worlds and augmented landscapes offer opportunities to enhance public life, deliver services, and engage residents. Join Open House New York, the Jacobs Urban Tech Hub at Cornell Tech, and the NYU School of Professional Studies Metaverse Collaborative for a dynamic panel discussion spotlighting how new technologies are being leveraged to reshape the ways we interact with the built environment. Moderated by Jacobs Urban Tech Fellow Greg Lindsay, this conversation features Ernest Chrappah, Acting Director of the Washington DC Department of Buildings, David Gilford, Head of Policy & Strategic Partnerships at Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, and Daria Siegel, Vice President of Special Initiatives at NYC Economic Development Corporation discussing how cities are incorporating new virtual technologies to enhance public services, and how they can work with the private sector to improve them.

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April 28, 2023  |  permalink

Fast Company & Siemens: Scaling Transformation in the Industrial Metaverse

I recently hosted the second installment in Fast Company’s Webinar series on the “industrial metaverse” hosted in partnership with Siemens. Titled “Scaling Transformation: How to Take the Innovation Beyond the Pilot Stage,” I first spoke with Platform Revolution author Marshall Van Alstyne before ushering Siemens’ Brenda Discher, Sierra Space Company’s Jeff Babione, and REGENT’s Mike Klinker onto the virtual stage. From the description:

Digital transformation is now a foundational part of every company’s strategic planning and its impact is being felt from R&D labs to the industrial floor. As cloud-based technologies like digital twin platforms become part of the framework for the future of industry, it is becoming increasingly vital to adapt workflows so organizations can scale their innovations faster with less financial risk. In this thought-provoking panel discussion, Fast Company and Siemens will convene a key group of business and technology leaders to discuss best practices for small and medium businesses to implement their digital transformation investments and key insights on how it applies to rolling out new products.

Watch the whole thing here. (And please pardon my skiing-induced second-degree sunburn.)

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April 27, 2023  |  permalink

CityLab: The Line Is Blurring Between Remote Workers and Tourists

(Published in Bloomberg CityLab on April 25, 2023.)

By Lev Kushner and Greg Lindsay

For years, cities, states and regions have been competing to lure corporate headquarters and offices, an arms race of ever-higher tax breaks and infrastructure projects cobbled together to benefit corporate executives and their shareholders. The spectacle of hundreds of American communities bidding against each other for Amazon’s now-paused HQ2 was both the pinnacle and nadir of this genre. But the remote revolution is upending this traditional model of economic development. The last two years of pandemic have accelerated previous trends, shining a spotlight on an alternative to the corporate sweepstakes, one in which cities chase the workers themselves.

With many Americans newly willing to relocate and remote work vastly expanding the playing field of potential locations, smaller cities and regions need to be ready to capture their share of this windfall of migratory talent. While some of tomorrow’s destinations patiently wait for their turn in the sun, others have resorted to gimmicks — such as a $10,000 bonus, or $10,000 and a mountain bicycle, or $10,000 in Bitcoin — with less-than-stellar results.

Even the original and most successful of these programs, Tulsa Remote, has settled only 2,000 new arrivals since 2018, or roughly 0.2% of metro Tulsa’s population. That shouldn’t be surprising; these are relatively small-budget affairs. Many of these pandemic-era programs launched by cities ranging from Savannah to Helsinki used little more than mothballed travel budgets to seed their fledgling efforts. And even more mature efforts such as those in Tulsa or Northwest Arkansas (Bentonville and Fayetteville) still rely on philanthropic rather than public funding. Approaches such as these are forward-thinking but not scalable.

Simultaneously, and in parallel, tourism departments are struggling to respond to a changing world of tourism. While tourism agencies’ historic target audience has been three-day weekend visitors, remote work and the rise of digital nomads means that stays are increasingly in the 30-day range. According to Deloitte’s 2023 Travel Outlook, travelers willing to bring work with them take twice as many trips and, of those “laptop luggers,” more than a third are adding three or more days to their vacation to accommodate working remotely while traveling. Airbnb reported in May 2022 that long-term stays of more than 28 days were their fastest-growing category by trip length compared to 2019, more than doubling in size from Q1 2019. And United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby has declared a “permanent structural change” in the industry as business and leisure travel have become indistinguishable.

These two developments — a growing, restless class of remote workers, and a tourism market of people who spend more of their time traveling — are more than related; they’re different facets of the same phenomenon. The line between remote workers and tourists is blurring, and communities big and small need to think strategically about how to position themselves to take advantage of this changing landscape.

The New Talent Attraction Landscape
When cities try to lure or retain companies, they play a B2B game. When they adjust their strategy to try and court a highly mobile class of talented workers, the model shifts to B2C. And that transformation requires a change both in how city agencies are structured and in their culture.

The simplest transformation would be combining economic development and tourism offices into something customer- and resident-focused. Call it the Department of Hospitality. Ohio is already inching in this direction, with a proposal to rename TourismOhio as the State Marketing Office and expand its mission to attract residents, students and workers — in addition to tourists.

Whether it’s renaming agencies or merging them, the transformation entails a new way of doing business. Any new department would shift from the high-upside, low-volume business of luring corporate headquarters to the low-margin, high-volume approach of direct sales. This may entail shifts to the make-up of staff, messaging and strategy. And it will mean broadening the customer-facing programs to transform first-time buyers (visitors) into loyal customers (residents).

Whether this entails connecting newcomers with reliable Wi-Fi and work spaces, familiarizing short-term tourists with housing options and family amenities, or merely keeping track of and welcoming new transplants to help them assimilate and feel supported over time, the work is critical. In a world where there are now hundreds of competing cities chasing the same residents/customers, the cities that figure out how to make their visitors’ and residents’ lives easier are going to have a massive competitive advantage.

To achieve this, cities will have to train their employees for a new era of increasingly important customer service. This would be a sea change for the vast majority of cities, and culture change at municipal agencies is notoriously difficult.

Whether these new offerings are gathered under the umbrella of merged economic development and tourism agencies or, less effectively but more feasibly, a well-choreographed coordination between the two as standalone agencies, this culture change will have to infuse their programs, combining economic development agencies’ ability to expedite city processes and tourism departments’ expertise in marketing.

This effort will require employees of a sort not normally associated with the public sector: people who act as point-of-contact assistance for new and recent arrivals. Imagine one part hotel concierge, one part HR onboarding expert, and one part university student life expert who has experience welcoming and orienting a constant wave of new residents.

A smattering of examples exist in the field.

Evan Hock launched MakeMyMove as a one-stop shop for Indiana communities, but today his site boasts more than 150 destinations across the US. One is Greater Lafayette, Indiana, which offers arrivals a $10,000 incentives package, including relocation costs and work space on campus at Purdue University — the first partnership of its kind. “A lot of what we’re doing now is helping communities set up this kind of infrastructure and then obtain funding to keep it going,” Hock says. To that end, Indiana’s legislature amended the state’s tax credit toolkit last year authorizing municipalities to use government funds on these kinds of programs.

A few states away, the Greater Topeka Partnership has lured 99 workers from over 25 states to date with its own $10,000 incentives program. But the small program has contended with the challenges of connecting participants to the right amenities, according to Bob Ross, the partnership’s senior vice president of marketing and communications. One participant dropped out due to a lack of coworking spaces; another ended up in a broadband dead zone and had to relocate — unforced errors that might have been avoided by a more comprehensive citywide strategy. “We’ve ended up doing a lot of that lift ourselves, which is probably a little beyond our bandwidth,” Ross says. “Cities are going to have to find ways to answer those questions more efficiently.”

Incremental Change
For most city agencies, change will come slowly. A more practical question may then be, what do incremental steps look like and how can they be achieved?

Cassandra Costello, executive vice president and chief policy and external affairs officer at the San Francisco Travel Association, has operated in this interstitial space for years. Her position was designed specifically to liaise between economic development and tourism — a rarity in the industry — but it provides her a wide-angle view on how the changing landscape affects the day-to-day operation of government.

Pre-pandemic, tourism was solidly San Francisco’s number one industry, growing for ten straight years and drawing nearly 26 million visitors who spent over $10 billion annually. After Covid brought this growth to an immediate halt, “tourism was no longer taken for granted, but instead, proved to be an industry that you had to work for to be able to compete on a global scale for visitation,” says Costello.

This challenging environment puts it on par with other corporate attraction efforts. And with Costello’s perch on committees within the planning, parks, and economic development agencies, she is increasingly able to give a voice to tourists within the city’s economic development machinery. Having someone from SF Travel add their voice to land use and economic development issues gives more context to complex political decisions, often bringing a broader, even global perspective to issues that can feel hyper-local.

Costello’s work shows that, as the line between short-stay tourists and residents blurs, improved resident amenities are going to be even more important to economic development than they were in the past — to the benefit of both new residents and old. “What is good for the visitor is great for the employee, resident and for business attraction,” she says. “Tourism can also help to bring people to downtown core areas seeing less foot traffic due to work from home policies.”

As an economic development strategy, talent attraction is not going away. And neither, clearly, is remote work. Small and midsize American cities, traditionally muscled out of the business attraction game, have been quick to seize on this transformation. Larger cities, even the heavyweights with legacy business clusters and resilient brands, are slowly pivoting their attention to this new way of doing business. A more consumer-oriented approach will improve the quality of service for all residents, regardless of how often they move, by making them feel more taken care of and more welcome. What’s good for the guest is good for the host, especially when the guest might never leave.

Lev Kushner is the founder of Department of Here, a strategic communications and economic development consultancy.

Greg Lindsay is an urban tech fellow at the Jacobs Urban Tech Hub at Cornell Tech.

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April 25, 2023  |  permalink

Climate Alpha HOMES

Climate Alpha has launched HOMES, the first free tool of its kind to forecast the climate change-adjusted valuation of a home several decades into the future. Unlike other tools that offer numerical risk scores, ours puts a fine point on how much climate change will cost you. From the press release:

Climate change is already a real and growing concern for American homeowners — 64% cite it as a reason to move from their current communities, and 62% say they are reluctant to move somewhere at risk of natural disasters.

HOMES invites users to enter an address or ZIP code which calculates the projected median home value in that area for a given year. It then calculates the price impact due to climate change both in dollars and as a percentage of the home’s total value. Users can compare the resilience of a given area against its surrounding county, state, or national price impact.

In addition to calculating a location’s changing exposure to climate risks such as flood, storms, drought, heat and fire, HOMES also displays vulnerability scores related to poverty and infrastructure as well as readiness scores related to clean energy and public spending.

This unique combination of climate data and models with decades of market trends and socioeconomic variables, powered by Climate Alpha’s AI-trained analytics suite, creates a more complete picture of where Americans will choose to move — and what homes they are most likely to buy — than any product currently on the market.

What are you waiting for? See for yourself how much your home — or your Zillow dream listing — will gain or lose due to climate change.

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April 21, 2023  |  permalink

Design & Solidarity @ MIT Video

Video of the aforementioned MIT book launch of Design & Solidarity has been posted on MIT Architecture’s YouTube channel (as one does). Click to the 22:30 for my cameo appearance as MC of the event’s lightning talks.

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April 16, 2023  |  permalink

Design & Solidarity @ MIT Architecture

If you happen to be Cambridge at 6 PM on April 20, please join us for a conversation, celebration, and catered reception to launch Design & Solidarity (Columbia University Press, 2023), a book exploring the power of design, art, and architecture in shaping emergent forms of mutualism, fulfilling their promise of solidarity, and ensuring that these values endure.

Marisa Morán Jahn, Artist; Director of Integrated Design at Parsons/The New School
Rafi Segal, Architect; Director, MIT SMArchS Urbanism Program

In Conversation with:
Arturo Escobar, Design Anthropologist; Author, Designs for the Pluriverse  
Greg Lindsay, Senior Fellow, MIT Future Urban Collectives
Mercedes Bidart, Entrepreneur; Co-Founder, Quipu
Rashin Fahandej, Multimedia Artist, Filmmaker

Moderated by:
Ana Miljacki, Critic, Curator, Director, MIT Architecture and Urbanism Group

With remarks from:
Sarah Wolozin, Director of MIT OpenDocLab
Jules Sievert, Artistic Director, NuLawLab, Northeastern University

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April 14, 2023  |  permalink

The Future of Quantum Supercomputing

Fast Company asked me to moderate a session on quantum computing and “high performance computing” (read: supercomputing) at their recent Future of Hybrid Cloud 2023 virtual summit in partnership with IBM. Click through to watch my fireside chat with Katie Pizzolato, director of quantum theory and computational science at IBM Quantum, and Hillery Hunter, CTO & GM of innovation at IBM Infrastructure. Here’s the session description:

The first phase of quantum computing involved proving the scientific theories could be translated to reality. High-performance computing used to mean supercomputers the size of small buildings. Now, zettabytes of data flow through the cloud to access quantum and high-performance computing to solve the most complex business challenges quickly, enabling faster insights and a competitive advantage. Learn what this means for the future of business from some of the leading minds in the field in this forward-thinking panel discussion from The Future of Hybrid Cloud 2023 event.

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About Greg Lindsay

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Greg Lindsay is a generalist, urbanist, futurist, and speaker. He is a 2022-2023 urban tech fellow at Cornell Tech’s Jacobs Institute, where he leads The Metaverse Metropolis — a new initiative exploring the implications of augmented reality at urban scale. He is also a senior fellow of MIT’s Future Urban Collectives Lab, a senior advisor to Climate Alpha, and a non-resident senior fellow of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Strategy Initiative.

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Articles by Greg Lindsay

-----  |  August 3, 2023

Microtargeting Unmasked

-----  |  July 1, 2023

2023 Speaking Topics

CityLab  |  June 12, 2023

Augmented Reality Is Coming for Cities

CityLab  |  April 25, 2023

The Line Is Blurring Between Remote Workers and Tourists

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

» See all articles


August 05, 2023

FT: Self-Created Communities for the Digital Age

August 03, 2023

Microtargeting Unmasked: A Threatcasting Report

August 01, 2023

At What Point Managed Retreat?

July 18, 2023

Prepare for Descent: The Relative Decline of the US Passport

» More blog posts