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From Superpower to Empowerment: the Growing City Movement

#MakeTechWorkForPeople

It’s hard to believe that it’s been only a few months since we launched the global City Possible network together with our 16 founding members, representing a diverse mix of geography and size, at Smart City Expo in Barcelona.

Last weekend at SXSW in Austin, I – along with many others – was engaged in passionate conversations that hailed the virtues of cities increasingly working with each other, and alongside community, academic and industry partners, to overcome shared challenges and improve quality of life for all urban residents.

This growing trend continues to gain momentum and it is my great pleasure to welcome 7 new members to the City Possible network: Buenos Aires, Guarulhos, Belfast, Austin, TX, Erie, PA, San Jose, CA, and Wichita, KS. I am also very happy to introduce Willis Towers Watson as our latest industry partner.

What unites this tribe of urban leaders is a fundamental belief in the superpower of collaboration: the opportunity for cities to build on each other’s progress. Whether you like or dis-like the “smart city” moniker, I believe there is one thing we can all agree on: For thousands of years, communities have progressed by embracing diverse ideas and people from other places.

In today’s world, where cities are experiencing new types of common issues, it just makes a lot of sense to work together on shared, scalable solutions. Here are just a few examples of how City Possible is bringing cities together to support and learn from each other:

In January, Harvard TECH convened an Accelerator workshop in collaboration with City Possible in Las Vegas that helped cities to identify a path to truly multi-modal urban mobility.

In February, Jamie Cudden, Smart City Lead at Dublin City Council, brought together partners from across the country to demonstrate how the capital is using data analytics to better understand and manage its economic health.

Only recently, Michael Pegues, CIO of Aurora, IL unveiled the city’s new technology plan which reflected input from across the City Possible network.

And next week, City Possible founding member Melbourne will host over 20 cities from Asia-Pacific, North America and Europe for a Harvard TECH Accelerator to share learnings on managing urban growth in a people-centric manner.

Whilst at SXSW, I was honored to join a SXSW panel with Dr. Ali al-Azzawi from Smart Dubai, Maya Wiley from The New School, and CityLab’s Nicole Flatow, to discuss how we can harness the superpower of collaboration to truly empower inclusive urbanization. The conversation continued at the Kansas City Outpost at SXSW with Bob Bennett, CIO of City Possible member Kansas City who hosted a session on “How smart city programs are transforming American cities” that also featured Ruthbea Clarke (IDC) and Gordon Feller (Meeting of the Minds).

Despite our broad mix of backgrounds and experiences one overarching theme came out of both discussions; only when age-old urban promises – like getting access to education, starting a business, joining in the community – become available to all of a city’s residents are we truly making tech work for people.

I invite you to join City Possible to find out how your city or organization can tap into the superpower of collaboration.

As the African proverb says: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”


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