Do Cities Really Need Innovation?
Do citizens really need apps? Or should city leaders keep their focus on paved roads and zoning rules?
Yes, cities need to innovate. They need to be more nimble. But the priorities of most people in most cities are more basic. An app that finds us a parking space isn’t as important as streets that are paved or parks that are safe. We don’t want our neighbor renting his or her apartment to short-term boarders if the folks passing through cause a late-night ruckus.
While smooth roads and safe parks are, and should be, the main focus of city leaders attention – it would be a mistake to ignore the revolution of smart city innovation and technology. Indeed, apps like seeclickfix and others can help city leaders to respond more quickly and more effectively to these basic needs of citizens. A city’s priority should not just be to make life livable, but also – as James Anderson of Schneider Electric said last week – sustainable and efficient.
Furthermore, basic needs and modern innovations are never mutually exclusive. This was made most clear last week by the presentations from three San Francisco leaders – Jay Nath, the Chief Innovation Officer of the San Francisco; Jon Walton, the Chief Information Officer of San Francisco; and Mayor Edwin Lee himself. All three presented a vision for the city of San Francisco that encouraged innovation and fostered the citizen-public-private partnerships that are needed for these innovations to succeed.
Does city innovation potentially lead somewhere “murky,” as John King suggests? What do you think? Leave a comment below to continue the discussion.
Leave your comment below, or reply to others.
Read more from the Meeting of the Minds Blog
Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology
Akron Civic Commons launched in 2016 as a demonstration project of Reimagining the Civic Commons. After selecting Summit Lake as one of the sites for reinvestment, we immediately recognized that one of the greatest challenges to the work was overcoming decades of broken promises. There was a legacy of things being done to the community, not with them, and a healthy skepticism and mistrust of government and community organizations. If we wanted to do this work, it was imperative that we restore trust as part of the process.
The data we have gathered about trees in this region are powerful, but are mostly meaningful because they are in fine enough in detail to be applicable at a local scale. We spent our first few years gathering data so we could identify solutions based on need and not speculation.
In order to realize its potential, green infrastructure must be designed holistically in partnership with the community, delivered at scale, and maintained for the long-term.