Cities Global Tech

E-Services Help Tame Manila’s Traffic Mess

(Photo courtesy Tigercub Digital)

Traffic problems are acute in many of Asia’s teeming megacities. Millions in Manila, Bangkok, Jakarta, and elsewhere endure commutes that can last hours each way. In Manila, where many people travel in open-air vehicles called jeepneys, the pollution can be especially evident. It will take years and many billions of pesos to fix Manila’s infrastructure, but in the meantime, new apps and websites are emerging there that can reduce strain on the city’s transit networks. They can even liberate people from the burdens of commuting altogether.   More

Cities Startup Culture

Idea Village: 5 Things We Can Learn from the Folks Bringing Startups to New Orleans

New Orleans Skyline During Sunrise

In the mid-1980s, New Orleans was in a downward spiral, in part because of its longstanding political corruption and failing education system, but also because the once-thriving Louisiana energy industry tanked as soon as oil prices fell to $10 a barrel. Statewide, one out of every eight people was unemployed. Economic hardship drove residents toward opportunities in more prosperous places such as Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, New York, and Boston. The exodus was most prevalent among 23-to-35-year-olds, the very demographic that could have provided the fresh ideas and innovative businesses essential for growing the state’s economy and addressing its pressing social issues.   More

Cities Digital Startup Culture

Techonomic Top 5: Startup Slowdown, Euro Urban Innovation, Prescribing Addictive Games, and More

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Every week we spotlight techonomic happenings on the Web and beyond, picking people, companies, and trends that exemplify tech’s ever-growing role in business and society. Here’s what’s got our attention. A new report from entrepreneurship advocacy organization the Kauffman Foundation indicates the number high-tech startups—defined as young companies with a high proportion of STEM workers—has been in decline since 2000. The study concludes that the slowdown in tech entrepreneurship “might have disproportionate effects on long-term economic growth,” noting that while tech startups often fail, they help to sustain a vigorous rate of net new job creation.   More

Analytics & Data Cities

“Blexts” Enable a Quantified Blight Movement in Detroit

Detroit Packard plant

When Dan Gilbert told the Techonomy Detroit audience last September that the wrecking ball was the next step to reviving the Motor City, we quipped that demolition didn't seem like such a techonomic concept. It turns out technology will even expedite the process of razing some 80,000 dilapidated buildings. NPR reports this week that an army of "blexters," enabled by tablet computers and "blight texting" tools, is creating digital maps and a database of every structure across Detroit's 139 square miles.   More

Cities Digital Security & Privacy

Techonomic Top 5: Web Fightback, #BangkokShutdown, Sochi Tech, and More

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Every week we spotlight techonomic happenings on the Web and beyond, picking people, companies, and trends that exemplify tech’s ever-growing role in business and society. Here’s what’s got our attention. The Day We Fight Back, Tuesday’s anti-spying Web protest, rallied more than 6,000 websites against government surveillance—among them, Internet heavyweights Google, Mozilla, Reddit, and Tumblr. Protest participants hosted a banner on their sites, linking visitors to legislators to encourage them to take action. “Dear internet, we’re sick of complaining about the NSA,” the banner read. “We want new laws that curtail online surveillance.”   More

Cities Learning

How Remixing Has Helped Revive Pittsburgh

TransformED, a digital playground for teachers at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit. (Image via The Sprout Fund)

The Rust Belt story you’ve probably heard tells how the cities and towns that once formed the engine of 20th century growth have been left in the dust by the global economy. The decline of domestic manufacturing, mass migrations, and economic stagnation may appear to have paralyzed this once prosperous land of opportunity. But in my hometown of Pittsburgh, we’re seeing communities reinvent themselves from the ground up—increasing opportunities for civic engagement and improving quality of life. It's starting with the education of our youngest citizens. At the same time, digital technology is giving people powerful new access to tools and resources, creating whole high-tech cottage industries.   More

Cities Energy & Green Tech Video

Ford’s Farley Wants P2P Sharing and Electric Cars for Urban Mobility

As the urban population soars, city streets are growing increasingly traffic-clogged and difficult to navigate, impeding our ease of transit and, more critically, harming our environment. At our Techonomy 2013 conference, we talked to Jim Farley, EVP of global marketing at Ford, about the car industry and using shared ownership to tackle urban mobility. While business-to-consumer models (think Zipcar) have thus far dominated the shared-ownership market, they have struggled to succeed financially. Farley believes a peer-to-peer system of sharing vehicles is more promising. Electrifying the car industry, he added, will be an important part of developing this peer-to-peer system, enabling us to be more economical, more efficient, and kinder to our Earth.   More

Cities E-Commerce Video

Brookings’s Bradley: A Sharing Economy That Serves All

We know the sharing economy as an efficient and convenient resource, and launchpad for trendy startups like Uber, Airbnb, and TaskRabbit. But the sharing economy could help address needs for a much wider swath of society, instead of just enabling better options for the already-privileged. At Techonomy 2013, Brookings Institution fellow Jennifer Bradley discussed the sharing economy's opportunity for inclusion, such as creating an Uber-like system to help low-income people get to work, and enabling the sharing of essential "means of production" like 3D printers and power tools.   More

Cities Techonomy Tucson

Why Zappos CEO Hsieh Wants to Enable More Collisions in Vegas

(Photo by Asa Mathat)

Tony Hsieh has calculated that he spends “1,000 collisionable hours” annually in downtown Las Vegas. Collisions, or serendipitous encounters, according to the Zappos CEO, are a good thing and he’d like to see more people in his company’s new headquarters’ community having them. Hsieh is widely admired for having built an online retailer known for stellar customer service by nurturing a healthy corporate culture. At Techonomy 2013 in Tucson he described how he’s applying what he’s learned in 14 years running the company to transforming the Fremont East neighborhood surrounding Vegas City Hall—now Zappos central—into a “place of inspiration, creativity, discovery, and upward mobility.”   More

Techonomy 13 Cities Techonomy Tucson Video

Urban Evolution or Intelligent Design?

Traditionally, urban centers have grown around specific need: sustenance, trade and commerce, manufacturing, governance. Today, cities evolve around centers of critical information. How do you build a city for the 21st century? Should conventional urban specialization continue? Or do we need to start examining the opportunities posed by letting the urban garden run wild? Jennifer Bradley of the Brookings Institution, Justin Fox of the Harvard Business Review, Gabriella Gómez-Mont of the City Laboratory of Mexico City, the World Bank's Pedro Ortiz, and Columbia University's Saskia Sassen discuss. Watch video and read the complete transcript here.   More

Techonomy 13 Cities Techonomy Tucson Video

Tony Hsieh on Companies, Cities, and Community

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh discusses the importance of looking beyond your own business to the community around you. Watch the video and read the full transcript here.   More

Techonomy 13 Cities E-Commerce Techonomy Tucson Video

The Sharing Economy and the Symbiotics of City Life

Sharing and so-called “collaborative consumption” is poised to alter city life, company life, and family life. We now use digital tools to assist in sharing cars, bikes and apartments. But we’ve always shared apartments, restaurants, libraries, workspace and health clubs. As a host of new platforms transform the economics of sharing, what are the parameters of these new transparent eco-systems? How are business, social and cultural norms re-orienting around collaborative consumption and the peer economy? Jennifer Bradley of the Brookings Institution, Zachary Karabell of River Twice Research, Alex Rodriguez of the Arizona Technology Council, and Arun Sundararajan of NYU's Center for Urban Science and Progress discuss. Watch video and read the complete transcript here.   More

Cities Techonomy Tucson

Bankrolling the Metropolitan Revolution

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Some of our largest cities are caught in a paradox. As the federal government is paralyzed by partisanship and limited by budgetary realities, cities and metropolitan areas are taking more responsibility for policy innovation and economic revitalization. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said he “will not tie this city’s future to the dysfunction in Washington and Springfield.” Bruce Katz and I have called this shift in mindset and action The Metropolitan Revolution.   More

Cities Techonomy Tucson

Open Sourcing the Neighborhood

Williamsburg, Brooklyn. (Image via Shutterstock)

Rapid change in cities creates highly legible moments: the material reality of new buildings, expanding transport systems, modest shops replaced by luxury shops and modest middle-classes displaced by the rich professional class, or a bike-path where there had been none. And when rapid change happens simultaneously in several cities with at least some comparable conditions, it makes it possible to see how diverse the spatial outcomes can be in spite of similar underlying dynamics, such as the rise of mega-structures or of one-way streets.   More

Cities Techonomy Detroit

Pittsburgh and Detroit: From Industry to Innovation

Cathy Lewis Long, founding executive director of The Sprout Fund in Pittsburgh, met with us at our Techonomy Detroit conference to talk about the Steel City and how it compares with the Motor City. Both places, she said, have a "spirit and legacy of innovation" and a special way of sneaking up on people. "[Detroit's| so exciting and it's that same 'ah-ha!' moment that people get when they come to Pittsburgh," she said. Both cities, too, are heavily focused on reimagining their futures. "Detroit is at a palpable moment now to propel forward," Lewis Long said.   More

Business Cities E-Commerce

One Step Back for the Sharing Economy

In a setback for the sharing economy, the Office of the New York Attorney General has issued a subpoena demanding data about all Airbnb hosts in New York, The Wall Street Journal reports. Airbnb announced in a blog post that they are fighting this “unreasonably broad” demand from the Attorney General. The company recently made a commitment to clarify short-term rental laws, work with city leaders to ensure that the Airbnb hosts pay applicable taxes, and weed out the few “bad actors” among their community.   More

Cities Startup Culture

Inspiration and Entrepreneurship in New Orleans

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I first came to New Orleans in 2007, two years after Katrina, to enroll at Tulane University when I was 18 years old. There was still a lot to be desired, but the city never pretended to be anything other than what it was. What drew me to Tulane was not a particular career path, but a sense I had to be part of the impassioned rebuilding taking place throughout New Orleans’ communities.   More

Cities Techonomy Detroit Video

Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson on the Next Wave of Tech Hubs

Does adding "Silicon" before a community's name make it a better place for tech? Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson would answer with a resounding "No," saying the practice is one of his personal pet peeves. Dickerson talked at Techonomy Detroit about how cities like Detroit can remain authentic by embracing their unique identities. "Every city should try to be itself," he said, noting that part of Detroit's heritage is its long history of innovation and making things. "Detroit has that maker culture really baked into the city."   More

Cities Techonomy Detroit Video

Etsy CEO Dickerson on Entrepreneurship in One Illinois City

What happens when you combine a Midwestern mayor with a leading-edge CEO and stir in a timely Tweet about building an entrepreneurial economy? You get "the Internet at its best," says Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson, who spoke with us at our recent Techonomy Detroit conference about the partnership that's creating new entrepreneurs in Rockford, Illinois. Where does the program go from here? The possibilities seem limitless. "It's really reconnecting with the idea that we can overcome cynicism, that literally we can do anything," said Dickerson.   More