As you may know, at anteverti we work to foster smarter cities. That is, in our view, more inclusive, sustainable, people-centered, enjoyable, comfortable, safe, innovative cities. And, to this end, one thing seems clear to us: urban innovation matters if we are to build a better life for future generations.
To highlight its role in improving people’s lives and resulting from our multidisciplinary expertise, our team co-curated a set of online articles and resources. Here we go!
1. THE IMPORTANCE OF DATA
Did you know that 4.2 billion people live in cities today? Have you ever heard –or read– about the fact that in 2007 the world’s population turned more urban than rural for the first time in history? Maybe you know that, by 2050, it is projected that 68 % of the world’s population will live in urban areas. Don’t you?
Data is key to understand urban challenges: Our World In Data is home to all city- and urbanization-related figures and charts – such as this one:
2. CLIMATE CHANGE: THE CHALLENGE
Talking about urban challenges is talking about climate change.
According to C40 Cities, 70 % of cities are already dealing with the effects of rising sea levels, extreme weather events or other impacts resulting from global climate changes.
In a way, innovation is looking to the future. So how will urban life look like in 2050 if bold action against climate change is not taken? This article by John Vidal from The Guardian gives us clues on this field:
3. IT CAN BE AS SIMPLE AS PLANTING TREES
Almost always, nature knows best. And although innovating at the urban level may seem complex, solutions can be based in actions as simple as… planting trees.
The World Economic Forum reviews in this article what big cities such as Athens, Melbourne, New York or Seoul are doing to become not only greener, but also more inclusive cities:
4. BIG OR SMALL, TRANSFORMATION IS POSSIBLE IN ALL CITIES
Transformative formulas towards sustainability are possible everywhere – not only in megacities or capitals. In fact, innovation sometimes is not only the solution, but an obligation.
You may have heard about the story of Alaska’s remote town of Kivalina. It is a powerful example of how community leadership is crucial to ensure a better future for all, even in extreme, life-or-death cases. Global Citizen and this article by Joe McCarthy provide a first-hand insight on Kivalina’s people collaborative, participatory experience:
5. CAN VIDEO GAMES TRANSFORM CITIES?
However paradoxical it may seem, we often tend to think of urban innovation under rigid schemes – while, in fact, it is all about thinking outside of the box.
And this is what the Block by Block project does. Assuming that video games be a tool for innovation in cities, this initiative uses the potential of Minecraft to involve people from all ages and backgrounds in the transformation of urban spaces.
By doing so, this Mojang, Microsoft, and UN-Habitat-powered project has catalyzed the revitalization of urban neighborhoods in more than 30 countries, impacting the lives of more than 1.5 million people:
6. TECHNOLOGY: FINDING THE BALANCE BETWEEN POTENTIAL AND RISKS
It is obvious that technology – and big data – is key to manage cities more efficiently. However, it also entails risks.
Biased algorithms are one of them. Since algorithms are not neutral, the data resulting from them can lead to unfair, discriminatory decision-making.
Nevertheless, a significant part of the scientific community is carrying out efforts to study, understand and ultimately overcome this challenge. Mathematician and data expert Cathy O’Neil explains the situation in this TED Talk:
7. CITIES COOPERATE TOWARDS A HUMAN-CENTERED DIGITALIZATION
Against the risks that digitalization involves, unity creates strength.
That is why 36 cities from all over the globe signed the ‘Cities Coalition for Digital Rights’: a declaration of 5 principles aimed at protecting and monitor residents’ and visitors’ Human Rights at the digital level.
Led by Amsterdam, New York and Barcelona, the goal of the Coalition is «to harness technological opportunities that improve the lives of our constituents by providing trustworthy and secure digital services and infrastructures that support communities». Read the Coalition booklet here.
8. THERE IS NO INNOVATION WITHOUT RESEARCH
In any case, it seems clear that there is no urban innovation without questioning, research and experiment – and universities are essential to this end.
Who governs the urban night? Can we look at cities with a better ‘gender lens’? Are dance and mobility somehow interlinked? How to drive inclusive climate mitigation in cities?
These are some of the questions that the research projects carried out by the Urban Innovation and Policy Lab of University College of London tried to answer – with an incredibly interesting, disruptive approach. Find out more on them: