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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April 14, 2021  |  permalink

My Cameo in Brian David Johnson’s “The Future You”

My good friend and colleague Brian David Johnson – former chief futurist at Intel, now head of the Threatcasting Lab at Arizona State University –  published a self-help book earlier this year titled The Future is You. In addition to practical tips for applying futurist techniques to envisioning your own post-pandemic life, he’s weaved in a few asides with fellow practitioners, including me. Here’s how he sets the scene:

As long as we’re on the subject of place, I thought I’d take a quick detour into the origins, and evolution, of futurism. Throughout my twenty-five years in the business, I’ve collected a cast of colorful, not to mention incredibly bright, characters. These are the experts I call on for insights on a range of subjects, from economics to politics to social sciences. When it comes to the topic of futurism itself, my go-to is a guy called Greg Lindsay.

Greg is officially an urbanist, specializing in the future of cities, technology, and mobility. Beyond that, he has the deepest understanding of the history of futurism of anyone I’ve ever met. He also happens to be the sharpest-dressed guy in the biz–putting the “urbane” in urbanist, as I like to say. I’ve never seen him without a tie. He was even wearing one when he sent me from the hospital a picture of himself with his new baby. Whenever we get together, there’s always a bit of the Odd Couple to us, with Greg in his bespoke suits and polished shoes, and me in my blue jeans and beard.

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That was very much the case when we last got together in New York City, soon after I started in on the research for this book. Greg and I had talked before about the origins of futurism, our chosen career, but I wanted to get the complete story once and for all. I was especially interested in hearing more about futurism’s somewhat controversial past, as well as how Greg was feeling about the future of futurism. Greg’s mind is amazing. He is a two-time Jeopardy! champion and the only person to go undefeated in a game against IBM’s supercomputer Watson. Over martinis at the Bemelmans Bar, in the Carlyle Hotel on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, we went deep into the future.

To learn more, you’ll just have to watch the video above, or better yet, buy the book!

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April 14, 2021  |  permalink

threesixtyCITY with Reinier de Graaf

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For more than a decade, Reinier de Graaf has gently lampooned thirsty starchitects chasing commissions from boomtown to boomtown across the Global North and South – including the ambitions of his own firm, OMA, where he is a partner alongside Rem Koolhaas.

In his new novel The Masterplan, de Graaf chronicles the rise and fall of a young architect tasked with designing the capital of a young African republic, and who is instantly caught in a crossfire of colonialism, Chinese ambitions on the continent, and the long arm of late capitalism. Is there a way out for either his protagonist or the profession?

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

Posted by Greg Lindsay  |  Categories:  |  Comments


April 13, 2021  |  permalink

Henley & Partners: Governments Target Footloose Talent to Drive Economic Recovery

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(Originally published as part of Henley & Partners’ Global Mobility Report 2021 Q2 on April 13, 2021.)

If last year saw the advent of pervasive remote work and “nomad visas” amid a scramble to secure Covid-free havens, then 2021 will be the year savvy governments begin to harness post-pandemic migration opportunities as the driving force for economic recovery and development. Destinations ranging from Helsinki to Dubai in terms of climate and temperament are already drafting programs and policies targeting footloose talent whose employers have given them permission to roam. These initiatives go far beyond nomad- or even golden visas to encompass free workspace, health- and childcare, and even cash bonuses or promises of investment. Suddenly, it’s a race to the top, with the winners offering the most attractive (and extensive) packages.

It should come as no surprise that Dubai is at the forefront. The emirate’s own Remote Work Visa was approved by the UAE cabinet on March 21, following January’s amendments allowing the granting of citizenship “to investors, specialized talents & professionals including scientists, doctors, engineers, artists, authors and their families,” as tweeted by Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum at the time. Both measures, along with a raft of earlier reforms, are aimed at reviving a city-state that lost 8.4% of its population last year, according to Standard and Poor’s. The likely next phase: an official “vaccine tourism” campaign replacing the whisper network among the globally well-connected.

Meshing the machinery of the state with the economic interests of ‘Dubai Inc.’ has always been the emirate’s modus operandi and its post-pandemic strategy is no different. “With remote work technologies today, we provide an opportunity for everyone to live in the most beautiful and safe cities in the world,” Sheikh Mohammed explained in a series of tweets. “The UAE is a global economic capital…and all our decisions will be based on this vision.”

The longer game versus revenue upfront?

At the opposite end of the spectrum is Finland, where the Helsinki Business Hub unveiled its ’90 Day Finn’ program offering a few fortunate remote workers complete visa-, housing-, and childcare arrangements – what it calls “city-as-a-service” – along with a glide path to permanent residence. Explicitly aimed at tech nomads from Silicon Valley, the program is presented in direct opposition to golden visas and similar programs. (“We’re not after your money but all about lasting relationships”, the promotional copy teases.) It underscores the philosophical difference between investment migration and remote work visas, and how the latter is playing a longer (although less certain) game of talent attraction, startup formation, and growth rather than revenue upfront.

It’s also worth noting how the Finns position themselves. Unlike Dubai (or its American analog, Miami), they do not boast of beaches, low taxes, and minimal regulations. “Live in a city where everything simply works”, they promise. “Secure a free top-class education for your children.” Whichever proposition personally sounds more appealing, the ballooning number of programs – now more than 20 worldwide – means in-demand nomads will find a destination that resonates with their own inclinations, whether financial, political, or cultural. Another fascinating example is Taiwan’s “gold card” employment visa, which has drawn back home thousands of entrepreneurs to remote work (and play) within its bubble of normality.

These are just the beginnings, as an entire suite of services – even entire communities – emerge globally to cater to itinerant workers. In Portugal, for instance, the government-backed Startup Madeira has launched a pop-up ‘Nomad Village’ offering a one-stop website to assist with booking accommodation. As Barbados, the Bahamas, St. Lucia, Bermuda, and Antigua have already discovered, remote work is the new tourism.

Whether it will become an economic pillar in its own right remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: any global destination without one is at risk of being left behind when the world opens again.

Posted by Greg Lindsay  |  Categories:  |  Comments


April 13, 2021  |  permalink

threesixtyCITY with Andrea San Gil Leon

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They go by many names: ojeks; boda bodas; trikes; tuktuks; matatus; jeepneys – the two-, three-, and four-wheeled vehicles that ferry millions of people across the Global South daily.

A decade ago, they were villainized as a scourged to be stamped out; today, they’re being monetized by billion-dollar startups such as Grab and Ojek. But the larger task remains – elevating so-called “informal” transport to a full-partner in urban mobility, and making these modes clean, safe, and sustainable. Agile City Partners’ Andrea San Gil Leon joins us to discuss her work advising the government of Costa Rica and others on recognizing the power of pop transport.

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

Posted by Greg Lindsay  |  Categories:  |  Comments


April 03, 2021  |  permalink

threesixtyCITY with Alec MacGillis

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Amazon has remade the United States in its image – an American cloud of warehouses, data centers, and urban headquarters controlling the commanding heights of the U.S. economy, reinforced during a pandemic year. ProPublica reporter Alec MacGillis – author of Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America – joins us to discuss us how, where, and why Amazon has been able to express such leverage – and what it means for the future of American cities, and the world’s.

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

Posted by Greg Lindsay  |  Categories:  |  Comments


March 29, 2021  |  permalink

CORFAC 2021 Virtual Spring Conference: CRE Intelligence

My friends at CORFAC invited me to return for my third(!) keynote at their annual conference earlier this month. Scroll to the 10:00 mark for my thoughts on the future of post-pandemic real estate.

Posted by Greg Lindsay  |  Categories:  |  Comments


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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

-----  |  July 1, 2021

2021 Speaking Topics

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

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

» See all articles

Blog

October 15, 2021

The VISION Podcast by Protiviti

October 02, 2021

The National Association of Realtors’ C5 Summit

October 01, 2021

Fast Company Innovation Festival 2021

September 20, 2021

CREtech Climate Presents: MOVE

» More blog posts