SmartPlanet Coverage of Meeting of the Minds 2012
SmartPlanet’s Rachel King continued her excellent coverage of Meeting of the Minds 2012 this week with two articles focused on Colin Harrison and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.
‘Smart’ cities organize services around needs
The digital and physical worlds are converging, enabling us to leverage information to develop new insights and wisdom, according to IBM engineer Dr. Colin Harrison.
Speaking at Meeting of the Minds 2012 on Wednesday morning, Harrison covered the basic set of principles behind IBM’s Intelligent Operations Center and portfolio of solutions designed to enable smarter cities and intelligent systems for public safety, utilities, transportation, social programs and venues.
In explaining the genesis behind the Smarter Planet initiative at IBM, Harrison cited that the world has produced the following during the last 20 years:
- A global, high-bandwidth network
- A population of over 1 billion Internet users
- Roughly 4 billion mobile phones
- Billions of embedded sensors in infrastructures and environment
- Globally-integrated business processes
Harrison posited that it is no longer necessary to make guesses about what is happening today or what might happen tomorrow because we have the data and the planet is wired for that data.Read the full article
Vancouver mayor: Cities are ‘most entrepreneurial level of government’
Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson asserts that his city’s economy will be the fastest growing of any city in Canada, adding that defies the myth that you can’t be green and prosperous at the same time.
“Our goal is to be a mecca for green enterprise. We’re not alone in that,” asserted Robertson, while speaking at Meeting of the Minds 2012 on Wednesday afternoon, adding that the British Columbia city has “an enormous amount of expertise” to offer.
For example, Robertson cited that Vancouver has a hydroelectric power infrastructure, making 90 percent of electricity produced green and renewable.
Robertson described that Vancouver, the third-largest metropolitan area in Canada, is constrained by land between the North Shore Mountains, the Pacific Ocean and the U.S.-Canadian border. Thus, as the city grows exponentially, that requires some creative thinking about how to sustain that growth without wasting and running out of resources.
“Cities are all about action. We are the most entrepreneurial level of government,” Robertson remarked.Read the full article
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Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology
I see the outcomes of Duke Pond as a representation of the importance of the profession of landscape architecture in today’s world. Once obscured by the glaring light and booming voice long-generated by building architects, landscape architects are steadily emerging as the designers needed to tackle complex 21st century problems. As both leaders and collaborators, their work is addressing the effects of rising sea level on coastal cities, creating multi-modal pedestrian and vehicular transportation systems to reduce carbon emissions, reimagining outdated infrastructure as great urban places, and as with the case of Duke Pond, mitigating the impacts of worsening drought.
AI has enormous potential to improve the lives of billions of people living in cities and facing a multitude of challenges. However, a blind focus on the technological issues is not sufficient. We are already starting to see a moderation of the technocentric view of algorithmic salvation in New York City, which is the first city in the world to appoint a chief algorithm officer.
There are 7 primary forces determining the success of AI, of which technology is just one. Cities must realize that AI is not the quick technological fix that vendors sell. Not everything will be improved by creating more algorithms and technical prowess. We need to develop a more holistic approach to implementing AI in cities in order to harness the immense potential. We need to create a way to consider each of the seven forces when cities plan for the use of AI.
In New Zealand, persistent, concentrated advocacy and legal cases advanced by Māori people are inspiring biocentric policies; that is, those which recognize that people and nature, including living and non-living elements, are part of an interconnected whole. Along the way, tribal leaders and advocates are successfully making the case that nature; whole systems of rivers, lakes, forests, mountains, and more, deserves legal standing to ensure its protection. An early legislative “win” granted personhood status to the Te Urewera forest in 2014, which codified into law these moving lines:
“Te Urewera is ancient and enduring, a fortress of nature, alive with history; its scenery is abundant with mystery, adventure, and remote beauty … Te Urewera has an identity in and of itself, inspiring people to commit to its care.”
The Te Urewera Act of 2014 did more than redefine how a forest would be managed, it pushed forward the practical expression of a new policy paradigm.