May 12, 2021  |  permalink

threesixtyCITY with Peter Rees

For nearly thirty years, Peter Rees steered the unstoppable growth of the City of the London — the historic Square Mile at the heart of both the city and global finance. In his capacity as chief planner, he personally approved such iconic skyscrapers as the Gherkin, the Cheesegrater, and the Walkie-Talkie. But as firms and their employees debate whether and when to return to the office — if ever — has the need for central business districts come and gone? If so, how will cities ever replace them? Rees makes the case for why a center of commerce for nearly two thousand years isn’t finished yet.

Click on the image above to watch the video on Facebook, or click here for the podcast on Apple Podcasts.

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May 06, 2021  |  permalink

CoMotion LIVE: Crowdsourced Data, The Solution to Congestion?

Each day, city streets are instrumental in moving around people and goods, but are simultaneously acting as construction sites. Although these temporarily distressed zones will likely benefit us in the future — by paving the way for better mobility access, new infrastructure, and generally alleviating problems on our roads – the tumultuous process of rerouting contributes to congestion, accidents, and overall frustration. The easy answer is by lessening reliance on single passenger vehicles. But in sprawling urban centers where public transportation is not as readily available to all reaches of the city, we must ask the question: what are solutions we can implement in the interim and how can cities work with crowd-sourced data to alleviate these challenges while we try to improve our streets?

Joining us for this discussion on May 5th were Alejandra Argudin, CEO, Miami Parking Authority; Brandon Long, Director of Public Sector and Smart City Innovation at Nexar; Julia Uravich, Project Engineer, PTOE at Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada; Jacob Wessel, Public Realm Director at the City of Boston; and your moderator Greg Lindsay, Director of Strategy at CoMotion.

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May 05, 2021  |  permalink

threesixtyCITY with Sarah Seo

First, a call to defund the police that gained traction during the social justice protests of 2020 and now President Biden’s proposed investment in the modernization of streets leads us to reimagine how we design our streetscapes.

In her 2019 book, Policing the Open Road: How Cars Transformed American Freedom, Columbia Law Professor Sarah Seo explores how the rise of the automobile led Americans to accept and expect pervasive police power in the form of traffic stops — power that has disproportionately led to the deaths of Black Americans such as Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, and Daunte Wright, among so many others. It is this power that has led Black activists to broadly criticize the urbanist movement as pointless at best, racist at worst — what good are slow streets and cycling lanes if they lead to more encounters of the kind that murdered George Floyd?

Sarah joins us now to explains how a combination of design, decriminalization and disarming police might lead to safer streets for all.

Click on the image above to watch the video on Facebook, or click here for the podcast on Apple Podcasts.

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April 28, 2021  |  permalink

threesixtyCITY with Marisa Moran Jahn

There are now more Americans over the age of 80 than under the age of two. This burgeoning “elder boom” has stretched the nation’s caregivers to their limits, while the spiraling costs of care mean 80% of Americans can no longer afford it. That’s why President Biden has earmarked $400 billion for caregiving as part of his infrastructure plan, arguing care is essential to productivity. But given that 40% of U.S. deaths in the first wave of the pandemic (and 80% of Canadian deaths) were situated in senior care facilities, something in the current model has to give.

MIT artist and filmmaker Marisa Morán Jahn is developing an alternative named “Carehaus” in which caregivers and their charges live side-by-side. She joins us to discuss how new models of care can solve the precarity of all involved.

Click on the image above to watch the video on Facebook, or click here for the podcast on Apple Podcasts.

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April 26, 2021  |  permalink

Harpers: “Negative I.D.”

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My friend Atossa Araxia Abrahamian was kind enough to quote me in her “Annotations” column on vaccine passports for the May 2021 issue of Harpers. As you might imagine, I take a pretty dim view of “health theater” and its descent from security theater:

CommonPass and its competitors are a private solution to a public problem; they exist only because governments have failed repeatedly to keep their populations safe from COVID-19. Security protocols introduced at states’ peripheries have a tendency to creep into the center. Greg Lindsay, the director of research at the urban planning group NewCities and a co-author of Aerotropolis, noted how the “security theater” that developed after September 11 was pushed from airports and border zones into offices, schools, and stadiums. Vaccine passports, he said, are “another permutation of post–9/11 thinking.” Many institutions are already using apps such as ProtectWell and MyMedBot to require visitors to self-report. Soon, being asked to whip out a COVID-19 app at any gate or door could be the norm, as technology that grows out of the pandemic turns concert halls, restaurants, and bars into little airports. When this pandemic wanes, “CommonPass as it exists today will go away,” a representative for the organization claims. This only makes sense; as Singh says, “We don’t have a passport for the flu.” And yet as new variants emerge, we may have to learn to live with the virus–whether that means getting annual booster shots, or continuing to test and trace. Widespread contact tracing for COVID-19 may train individuals both to accept more surveillance and to keep their health information on hand at all times–ostensibly to prevent future pandemics.

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April 26, 2021  |  permalink

NewCities & Future of Cities Present: “Rewilding Cities”


re·wild /rēˈwīld/ verb
restore (an area of land) to its natural uncultivated state (used especially with reference to the reintroduction of species of wild plant and animal life that have been driven out).

Before society unthinkingly returns to “normal,” how can we seize this moment to decarbonize and “rewild” our cities, resetting our relationship with nature? If there is one thing the last year has taught us, it’s the pressing need for greater access to public green space – our wellbeing and the health of our environment depend on it.

Powered by Future of Cities in partnership with NewCities, Design Science Studio, and Buckminster Fuller Institute. Featuring Deepak Chopra, founder of The Chopra Foundation and bestselling author; David Holmgren, co-originator of the global Permaculture movement and founder of Holmgren Design; Jeanne Gang, distinguished global architect and Principal of Studio Gang; Tony Cho, Founder of Future of Cities, Amanda Joy Ravenhill, Executive Director of Buckminster Fuller Institute, and Poet Shelley Bruce.

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April 21, 2021  |  permalink

threesixtyCITY with Robyn Beavers

Between President Biden’s $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan and the new-and-improved $1 trillion Green New Deal for Cities, America is poised to make a once-in-a-generation investment in housing, transportation, and the grid. Blueprint Power CEO Robyn Beavers has worked for everyone from the Department of Energy to America’s largest homebuilder to Google to the largest manufacturer of wind turbines in the world. She joins us to discuss her startup’s plans to trade energy between buildings, what New York City’s carbon tax means for cities, and how best to put a trillion dollars to work.

Click on the image above to watch the video on Facebook, or click here for the podcast on Apple Podcasts.

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April 19, 2021  |  permalink

Venice Architecture Biennale Sneak Peak: Open Collectives

Thrilled to finally announce my participation in the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale: How Will We Live Together? alongside my teammates Rafi Segal (MIT Future Urban Collectives Lab), Sarah Williams (MIT Civic Data Design Lab), and Marisa Morán Jahn (Studio Rev) and project leaders Alina Nazmeeva, Kelly Leilani Main, David Birge, and Sarah Rege.

I can’t say much more before the Biennale opens to the press on May 20th, but please stay tuned for the Open Collectives Website and more from our partners Quipu, Mosaic.us, Communit, and Carehaus. Click on the video above for a brief preview.

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April 18, 2021  |  permalink

“Nomadland” and Autonomous Everything

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In honor of the Oscars and Best Picture-frontrunner Nomadland – a fictionalized version of Jessica Bruder’s journalistic account of Amazon’s “CamperForce” of nomadic retirees and other workers – I’m reposting a vignette I developed for Intel back in 2017.

Accompanying a report on the “Passenger Economy” – the trillions of dollars unlocked by autonomous productivity – were several brief scenarios on how economy might look over the coming decades. By 2040, I imagined an aging generation of self-driving RVs being repurposed by the swelling ranks of those rendered superfluous by AI and automation:

Over time, some AVs less resemble cars than buildings. In 2040, caravans of solar-powered, autonomous RVs the size of McMansions lumber along America’s back roads carrying families of nomads and migrants workers. With a top speed of 20 miles per hour, these autonomous homes enable the full sweep of daily life to be lived on the road. It’s not uncommon for entire subdivisions to pick up and move to the next farm or factory, plugging into plumbing upon arrival. After several weeks of recharging, the town rumbles onward again.

Cheers to Intel for never flinching at dystopia, and fingers crossed for Nomadland.

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April 17, 2021  |  permalink

The Millennial Dilemma: “America Is Running Out Of Homes” Edition

NewCities published my report The Millennial Dilemma in October 2020, amidst a pandemic that compressed nearly a decade’s worth of life decisions into a matter of months. The decisions by central banks in the U.S. and Canada to slash interest rates in order to prop up their economies triggered a boom in home mortgage lending that caught some by surprise ($3.93 trillion in the U.S. in 2020 versus $2.25 trillion the year before) which in turn drove a “K-shaped” recovery leaving those at the top of the K sitting pretty with wildly appreciating assets while those at the bottom literally struggle to survive.

The Millennial Dilemma, then, is literally one of life or death – a race to acquire a homeowner’s share of the city while governments debate whether and how best to ameliorate the great divergence without rocking the boat. Naturally, these being millennials, no one quite sees it that way.

Millennial homeownership is causing the US to run out of houses,” blared last week’s headline at Business Insider. Citing recent reports by the investment bank Jeffries and Apartment List, the story noted millennials’ homeownership rate has climbed to 47.9% from 40% just three years ago, while 30% of millennials surveyed admit the pandemic pushed them into house-hunting earlier than planned. That surge, coupled with historically low inventory of homes for sale (during a pandemic, when homeowners are loath to host open houses) and shortages of construction lumber and labor, led to the U.S. and Canada “running out of homes.”

As a result, many of the trends I identified in my report – the resurgence in starter homes, the metastasizing cancer of single-family homes for rent as an asset class, and fintech startups asking for the equity equivalent of a pound of flesh to assist with a down payment – have been turbocharged by the market. But there are glimmers of hope for millennials, too.

Many of the report’s recommendations that were infeasible in the face of a divided U.S. Congress are now on the table. President Biden’s proposed $2.25 trillion infrastructure bill includes not only includes provisions for ending exclusionary zoning and expanding affordable housing construction, but also the redefinition of child- and senior care as a form of infrastructure, including $39 billion in emergency funds for thousands of childcare providers – an absolute must for the 2 million women who left the workforce during the pandemic, not to mention a generation about to be sandwiched between the unprecedented costs of caring for their young children while tending to an elder generation whose health has been ravaged by COVID-19. Creating a national childcare program is a signature initiative of Justin Trudeau’s government as well.)

Finally, student debt relief has become a fiercely contested debate in both countries, with the progressive wings of each government calling for cancelling tens of thousands of dollars in debt as a de facto stimulus excessively burdened millennials and others. As I noted in my report, this radical proposal has been quietly endorsed by *checks notes* the National Association of Realtors as a means of galvanizing home purchases.

While it remains to be seen in what form Biden’s bill will pass (if it passes), it’s heartening to see the governments of the U.S. and Canada at last begin to grapple with perhaps the unluckiest and most misunderstood generation in recent history.

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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.

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Articles by Greg Lindsay

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2021 Speaking Topics

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ZINE 03: BETTER

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

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Why Companies Are Creating Their Own Coworking Spaces

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

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The Engine Room

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

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The Office of the Future Is… an Office

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Now Arriving: A Connected Mobility Roadmap for Public Transport

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Can the World’s Worst Traffic Problem Be Solved?

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Hacking The City

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