At the recent Global Cities Team Challenge Expo, Acquanetta Warren, the Mayor of Fontana California, expressed that ‘Technology makes government more accessible.’ Similar to cities, however, district-level organizations face constant challenges associated with financial and human resource constraints. In an environment of competing priorities and limited resources, strategies that depend on upfront investment and long-term returns are difficult to adopt at any level of governance.
Sustainability programs often require such long-term visions and upfront investment. In order for smart districts to become sustainable districts, it is imperative to develop strategies that leverage administrative frameworks, external resources, and novel technologies to minimize costs and facilitate continuous progress.
Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) empower local business people, commercial property owners, and professionals in a specific geographic area to collaborate with the support of a local municipality in organizing, financing, and carrying out physical improvements and marketing of their districts. The key to its resilience over the years was the innovation of ‘compulsory BIA membership and levy payments’ which overcame the perennial free-rider problem intrinsic to voluntary business associations of the past. It is generally acknowledged that the BIA model, through this ability to harness business funds and reinvest them directly back into the local business area, has been a success internationally, in terms of enhanced economic, social, and community development outcomes.
A crescendo of calls from transport safety bodies are demanding the repeal of a widely used, but arguably outdated method for setting speed limits.
Now is a good time to rethink the way we manage flood risk. Or more accurately, perhaps now it is time to actually manage flood risk.
It’s not a novel concept. Many corporations today consider active risk management an asset and a central part of the strategic management of their organization. Corporations have a Risk Manager who reports directly to the CEO. Risk Managers identify, analyze, assess, control, avoid, minimize, or eliminate unacceptable risks. In doing so, they actively manage their portfolio of risk by using risk avoidance, risk retention, risk transfer, or a combination of these strategies. Most large government agencies also have a Risk Manager who routinely negotiates insurance contracts and works department heads to develop risk reduction strategies.
A “bottom-up” approach means being intentional about systematically incorporating citizen voice throughout a smart cities project lifecycle. This is needed to help move urban residents from passive consumers to engaged consumers. And this trend will continue to rise as urban dwellers are demanding more flexible, personalized services. Additionally, building an infrastructure to continuously manage and measure what matters most to advance the economic and social well-being of a city can’t happen in a vacuum; it requires broad-based community engagement.
The recent explosion of technology integration with the transportation industry has rapidly disrupted traditional transportation legacy planning methodologies. The number of options and the traveler information available to the everyday citizen has created a new dynamic in which anyone can call a car or request product delivery at the touch of a button. Cities across the nation are developing new smart city initiatives to integrate open data with new transportation systems so that people can move more freely in their communities. New public transportation systems are being thought of as critical foundational systems to the smart city initiatives that will get people out of their cars and into reduced carbon footprint transportation systems. Soon, artificial intelligence will be operating the nation’s transportation systems at maximum efficiency, and with reduced operating costs compared to the use of human capital.
However, as technological innovation continues to progress at light speed, the country’s underserved communities are continually left behind. With the United States projected to be a majority minority country by the year 2044, governmental policy and resources must be adjusted to meet the demands of our rapidly changing demographics.
In recent months, people have taken to the streets of Washington, D.C. for marches urging the Trump administration and Congress to act on climate change.
For now, it seems that local governments in the United States will stand alone on the issue, paddling upstream against a federal government and a majority of state governments who reject the science and actively undermine city initiatives. Of course, building climate resiliency is more than an environmental issue for local government. Climate resilience in the 21st century will be a fierce competition between cities around the world to attract talent, reduce business disruption, provide reliable services and protect citizens.
The passing last month of visionary thinker Dr. Benjamin Barber occurred during a difficult stretch for democracy, the topic that animated Barber the most during his long career. A passionate advocate for democracy, Barber devoted his life to empowering citizens for democratic self-governance.
Barber’s contributions will be missed all the greater because he was more than a fascinating theorist; he put his ideas into practice, as the charismatic driving force behind the Global Parliament of Mayors (GPM). Launched in the Netherlands last September, GPM realizes Barber’s thinking: if cities are bastions of democracy, then cities need to become a more organized force at the global level. GPM advances this cause by giving cities as diverse as Athens, Buenos Aires, Oklahoma City, Rabat, and Seoul a platform on which their leaders can more easily connect, find practical solutions to common problems, and turn their collective ambition into independent action on the world stage.
In a world where people can increasingly choose to live anywhere, cities have to compete in ways that they never anticipated. However, there are some not-so-obvious “Moneyball” metrics that will help to promote city attractiveness, sustainability, resilience, and success.