Building Innovative Cities of the Future

Written by Brian Kilkelly on 13 September 2016

Summary of keynote speech by Brian Kilkelly at MIPIM Japan, September 8, 2016, Osaka, Japan

Cities that are ‘smart’ focus on integrating their transport systems, infrastructure investments, making the most of technology and data advances, and exploiting the latest energy resources. But are these the cities of the future or is innovation the key to future success?

Cities face many global and local challenges. Successful cities of the future will be those that embrace and stimulate a culture of sharing and innovation. Increasingly city leaders are working together to share ideas on the future of city development.

In addition to cities competing for talent, investment, and resources they are all facing the effects of the biggest challenge of all – climate change. I was recently struck by a presentation from Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber CBE,  Director, Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research when he used this picture and data on our consumption of the global ‘carbon budget’ to illustrate powerfully the speed of change upon us. The message was clear, we need a radical and swift transition to a low carbon economy in the next 5-10 years followed by a further shift to zero carbon. Otherwise we face unknown risks and the potential catastrophic loses.

Climate Spiral visualizations, Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research

Property and infrastructure is already at risk. Investors are alert to these issues. I referred to the Grosvenor report previously presented at our Tomorrows City Infrastructure Forum on how city adaptability is being assessed by investors keen to secure assets in the most resilient of cities. Good for Toronto but not so good for Dakar it would seem. Technology and design can certainly help us in mitigating and adapting to climate change. I presented a couple a whole new way of looking at train networks courtesy of PriestGoodman [moving platforms] and one of my favourite innovations supported by Climate-KIC, the Volvocopter

Silo busting

But recent experience at Climate-KIC has convinced me that where we need to put more effort is in the silo busting integration of solutions. Cross sector and discipline working groups, powered by insights from big data, can help us deliver much greater efficiencies from our existing assets and in new developments. I shared my experience of the Smart Sustainable District project running at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park where councils, the London Legacy Development Corporation, ENGI, Imperial College London, and TU Munich are doing exactly this to deliver energy savings and efficiencies across the Park. It took some 12 months to get everyone aligned around the table but now there are significant gains being made. Watch more here.

Cities that will succeed, are those that innovate in the areas of administrative structures in addition to infrastructure and services, build new alliances, and imbed collaboration and innovation as core values into their culture. This of course provokes the need for new skills and competencies.

Next gathering of leaders to discuss and develop these ideas will be in Frankfurt, November 8 during the Climate-KIC Climate Innovation Summit followed the next day by the second in the series of Urban Transitions workshops where projects and consortia will be formed. 

Join us and join in the journey to the great urban transition!

Categories: Architecture, Environment, Technology