Analytics & Data Cities Government

How Open Data Is Transforming City Life

(Image via Shutterstock)

Start a business. Manage your power use. Find cheap rents, or avoid crime-ridden neighborhoods. Cities and their citizens worldwide are discovering the power of “open data”—public data and information available from government and other sources that can help solve civic problems and create new business opportunities. By opening up data about transportation, education, health care, and more, municipal governments are helping app developers, civil society organizations, and others to find innovative ways to tackle urban problems.   More

Cities Startup Culture

How Detroit Turned Me into a Coder and Entrepreneur

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There are three things happening in my life right now that, frankly, would have shocked the college-aged Kate Catlin: I live in Detroit; I’m being trained as a coder; and I’m starting a tech company. All through college I was a gregarious environmental activist living in Washington State and happily climbing mountains every weekend. I dreamed of traveling abroad and leading political campaigns, or maybe a “social enterprise” like TOMS shoes. It almost gives me whiplash to look around now and ask, “What just happened?”   More

Cities Startup Culture

Hooked on Company-Building and Community in Detroit

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Entering my senior year of college after a summer working at an investment bank, I had decided that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. As I began thinking about how to become an entrepreneur, however, I was faced with the reality that I didn’t have an idea to launch straight out of college, and even if I did, I had no idea how to go about starting a company. I was an aspiring entrepreneur without experience, mentorship, or an idea. I had a problem. Then I heard about Venture for America, and it was the perfect solution to my problem.   More

Analytics & Data Cities

Wisely Harnesses Spending for a Local Business Guide

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Like most people, you probably read online product and service reviews with a healthy grain of salt. But if users doubt the credibility of online recommendations, how can sites that curate them earn consumers’ trust and loyalty? Michigan-based Wisely set out to do precisely that when it created a new kind of local discovery app that gathers real transaction data from customers, such as how much they spend at a restaurant, instead of subjective information like customer reviews. We spoke with Wisely co-founder and CEO Mike Vichich about what Wisely does for small businesses, and why building an “awesome” Michigan starts in Detroit.   More

Cities Energy & Green Tech

Snacking on Smog: A Building That Eats Our Pollution

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The latest foray into air-purifying architecture is a 9,000-square meter "urban forest" in Milan, set to be unveiled at the city's Expo Milano 2015. The massive smog-eating building, called the Palazzo Italia, will mimic the function and appearance of trees while also supporting the expo's theme of "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life." The secret of Palazzo Italia is photocatalytic concrete, a special substance that, when in contact with ultraviolet light, captures nitrogen dioxide pollutants and converts them into harmless salts that can be washed away with the next rainfall.   More

Cities E-Commerce

Airbnb Will Give New York Home-Sharers’ Addresses to State

photo: Airbnb

Airbnb has agreed to hand over information about its New York hosts in order to comply with a subpoena it received last week from the New York Attorney General. The NYAG's office had claimed that "more than 60 percent of the service's listings in New York City on Jan. 31 appeared to violate a 2010 law targeting illicit hotels," Bloomberg reports. Crain's New York today published a letter of agreement that was signed yesterday between Airbnb General Counsel Belinda Johnson and Clark Russell, Deputy Bureau Chief of the Internet Bureau in the New York Attorney General's Office.   More

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

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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 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

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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 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

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

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 Events

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 Events 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 Events 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 Events 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 Events

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