Global Cities and the Promise of “Comprehensive Innovation”

By 2050, global cities are expected to house 68 percent of the population. To maximize efficiency and sustainability in cities, we need to rethink municipal government.

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Say you’re working for a startup that has created a network of air-quality detectors that provides block-by-block real-time updates to health and environmental agencies. You want to pitch the idea to your city government, but how do you find the right person to reach out to?

David A.M. Wallerstein, the Chief eXploration Officer and senior executive vice president of the multinational investment holding conglomerate Tencent, writes in a blog post that, today, there is no clear channel that such a startup could easily identify and use to begin conversations. Similarly, Wallerstein says, cities and their respective planning agencies do not have ways of communicating their needs to the marketplace. The dearth of both formal and informal communication platforms between city governments and the entrepreneurs, business leaders and innovators who live in those cities hampers their ability to embrace innovation, Wallerstein writes.  

Quick forecasting, rapid delegation of responsibilities and postmortem reviews are all critical aspects of an innovator’s business world, as Wallerstein calls it. As the Earth’s human population swells to a projected 9.8 billion by 2050, with roughly 68 percent of those people living in global cities, there will inevitably be more challenges that arise in living in such density. Wallerstein writes that the time to find a bridge between city planners and the innovative marketplace is now.  

By: Maya Miller, Scientific American


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