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Global Agenda
Prepared by the Global Agenda Council on the Future of Cities
October 2015
Top Ten Urban
Innovations
$
£
£
£¢
¢ $
$
Û
Û
£
£
¢ $Û1. (Digitally)
Re-Programmable
Space
6. The Sharing City:
Unleashing Spare Capacity
2. Waternet: An Internet of
Pipes
7. Mobility-on-Demand
3. Adopt a Tree through
Your Social Network
8. Medellin Revisited:
Infrastructure for Social
Integration
4. Augmented Humans:
The Next Generation of
Mobility
9. Smart Array: Intelligent
Street Poles as a Platform
for Urban Sensing
5. Co-Co-Co: Co-
generating, Co-heating,
Co-cooling
10. Urban Farming: Vertical
Vegetables
© WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM, 2015 – All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced or
transmitted in any form or by any means, including
photocopying and recording, or by any information
storage and retrieval system.
REF 191015
Contents
Introduction
1. (Digitally) Re-Programmable Space
2. Waternet: An Internet of Pipes
3. Adopt a Tree through Your Social Network
4. Augmented Humans: The Next Generation of Mobility
5. Co-Co-Co: Co-generating, Co-heating, Co-cooling
6. The Sharing City: Unleashing Spare Capacity
7. Mobility-on-Demand
8. Medellin Revisited: Infrastructure for Social Integration
9. Smart Array: Intelligent Street Poles as a Platform for Urban
Sensing
10. Urban Farming: Vertical Vegetables
Contributors
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
3Top 10 Urban Innovations
In the 1990s, as the digital revolution began to gather pace,
some social commentators speculated that it would lead to
the death of the city. People’s geographical location would
become less important, the argument went, as they came
to interact mostly in cyberspace.
Two decades on, the opposite has happened: human
beings continue to live very much in the physical realm,
and early this century passing the turning point of more
people living in urban than rural areas. The UN predicts that
by 2050 the world’s urban population will be as big as the
world’s total population in 2002. But what will the cities of
tomorrow be like?
People continue to be drawn to cities by the economic,
social and creative opportunities they offer; large cities are
more productive than rural areas, producing more patents
and yielding higher returns on capital. McKinsey
estimates1
that the world’s top 100 cities will account for
35% of global GDP growth between now and 2025.
However, urbanization also presents major challenges. The
world’s fastest growing cities have seen problems adjusting
to growth and industrialization, choking under the burden of
pollution, congestion and urban poverty. In the developed
world, urban sprawl can lead to individual levels of resource
consumption far exceeding those in the developing world.
Urban settings magnify global threats such as climate
change, water and food security and resource shortages,
but also provide a framework for addressing them.
If the future of cities cannot be one of unsustainable
expansion, it should rather be one of tireless innovation.
This report chronicles 10 of the best examples from around
the world of how cities are creating innovative solutions to
a variety of problems. Many of these solutions are scalable,
replicable and can be adapted to a variety of specific
urban environments. Some are possible only due to new
technologies while others apply technology to ideas that are
as old as the city itself.
Introduction
Within these innovations, four principles surface again
and again. They can be seen as a core framework to find
innovative solutions to complex urban problems:
Unleashing spare capacity: Many innovations cleverly
make use of existing yet underutilized resources. Airbnb, for
example, enables the renting out of unused private homes;
co-locating schools and recreational facilities enables
public-private sharing of space; and the circular economy
provides opportunities to reuse, recycle and upcycle.
Cutting out the peaks: From electricity and water to
roads and public transport, upwards of 20% of capacity
sits idle for much of the time ready to cope with demand
peaks; cutting out these peaks with technology-enabled
demand management or innovative pricing structures
can significantly limit the burden on financial and natural
resources.
Small-scale infrastructure thinking: Cities will always
need large-infrastructure projects, but sometimes small-
scale infrastructure – from cycle lanes and bike sharing to
the planting of trees for climate change adaptation – can
also have a big impact on an urban area.
People-centred innovation: The best way to improve a
city is by mobilizing its citizens. From smart traffic lights
to garbage taxes, innovations in technology, services and
governance are not ends in themselves but means to shape
the behaviour and improve the lives of the city’s inhabitants.
All innovations should be centred on the citizen, adhering to
the principles of universal design and usable by people of all
ages and abilities.
1
http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/urbanization/urban_world
4 Top 10 Urban Innovations
1.	 (Digitally) Re-Programmable
	Space
Why
Demands on space in cities are constantly changing as a
result of economic growth, demographics and consumer
preferences. As urban populations increase from 4 billion to
nearly 7 billion over the next 30 years, the world will need to
almost double its urban capacity by 2050. There is neither
the time nor money to produce the required infrastructure
conventionally through large-scale engineering solutions;
focus should be on the better use of existing infrastructure.
What
City centres struggled to adapt to the heavy, invasive
technologies of the 20th century but can more easily
host the clean, knowledge-based and lightweight
industry and digital technologies of today. Cities have
started to look at reprogramming their space to get more
from less: Vancouver has reduced its allowable urban
footprint; Glasgow has moved from a policy of expansion
to concentration; New York has been incrementally
repurposing asphalt to expand footpaths and open space;
and Melbourne has repurposed 86 hectares of underutilized
road and other spaces in the last 30 years and aligned new
medium to high density residential development around its
rail stations and road-based public transport networks.
Potential
Melbourne’s approach has helped reduce taxes from
13% in 1995 to just over 4%, and if it can accommodate
the projected population increase of 3.5 million people by
2050 within its current boundaries, it will reduce required
infrastructure funding by an estimated $440 billion over 50
years. As such, treasured historic city centres could again
become productive areas, hosting not only “knowledge
workers”, but also the emerging “fourth industrial revolution”
of 3D printers and digital manufacturing, as technological
development enables new ways of organizing work,
occupation patterns and places of production. Buildings
themselves will also be digitally programmable and able to
instantly shift use between a theatre, gymnasium, social
centre or night club, further minimising the overall urban
footprint.
Useful links
http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/ParksandActivities/Parks/
Pages/ErrolStreet.aspx
https://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/AboutMelbourne/
Statistics/Documents/TransformingCitiesMay2010.pdf
Picture 1. A multi-storey car park in Miami Beach also plays host to parties, yoga classes and weddings. The concrete building with floor slabs
supported on wedge-shaped columns was completed in 2010 to offer naturally lit parking levels that can also be used for other activities above a row
of shops and restaurants.
5Top 10 Urban Innovations
2.	 Waternet: An Internet of Pipes
Why
Population growth, ecological threats and climate change
all make it more critical than ever to efficiently manage
and protect limited freshwater resources. By 2030, it is
estimated that freshwater demand could outpace supply
by 40%. Currently, the average water loss due to leakage is
estimated at 25-30%, with some utilities agencies allowing it
to rise to over 50%.
What
Smart water management models use sensors in network
pipes to monitor flow and manage the entire water cycle,
providing sustainable water for human and ecological
needs. Companies such as TaKaDu, based in Israel, are
creating cloud-based solutions to connect water pipes to
the Internet of Things, enabling a proactive approach to
flood control and rainwater collection, and the identification
of weak points or blockages in the network before major
damage occurs. For example, in Queensland, Australia,
Unitywater cut its direct water losses by one billion litres
in one year, saving $1.9 million; it reduced the time it took
to detect and resolve network events by two-thirds, and
increased availability by almost 20%. 	
Potential
Sensors in sewage pipes, using new techniques developed
at MIT, could allow for scientists to analyse bacteria and
viruses, monitoring the impact of health policies and more
quickly detecting the outbreak and spread of infectious
diseases such as flu strains. Such early warnings could
help to prevent pandemics, saving lives and significantly
reducing medical costs. 	
Useful links
www.takadu.com
http://www.ch2m.com/corporate/water/water-resources
http://underworlds.mit.edu
Picture 2. A team of MIT researchers, led by professors Carlo Ratti, Director of the Senseable City Lab in the Department of Urban Studies and
Planning, and Eric Alm, Director of a laboratory in the Department of Biological Engineering, have developed a system to collect and analyse
biochemical information from sewage water, what could be thought of as a “smart sewage platform”. The project, called Underworlds, is being tested in
Cambridge, MA.
$
£
£
£¢
¢ $
$
Û
Û
£
£
¢ $Û
6 Top 10 Urban Innovations
3.	 Adopt a Tree through Your
	 Social Network
Why
The International Panel on Climate Change foresees an
increase in extreme weather events that will challenge
cities, especially in developing countries. The dominant
engineering approach has been to build walls, bulkheads,
levees and other fortifications to minimize the effects
of future storms and sea level rises. A less appreciated
response is planting more trees. Studies show that
increasing a city’s green area by 10% could compensate
for the temperature increase caused by climate change:
vegetation helps to block shortwave radiation while also
evaporating water, cooling the ambient air and creating
more comfortable microclimates. Tree canopies and root
systems can also reduce stormwater flows and balance
nutrient loads.
What
Melbourne encourages citizens to take pride in urban
greenery through its Urban Forest Strategy, consisting
of over 70,000 trees. All trees are tagged on a central
database: citizens can adopt a tree, name it, track its
growth and carbon offset and share this data through their
social networks. Each tree has its own email address which
allows citizens to report defects and diseases and even
send love letters.
Potential
Trees now cover 22% of Melbourne, a figure that will rise
to 40% by 2040. By developing tools and processes for
measuring and modelling the potential of trees to mitigate
the effects of climate change, Melbourne is positioning itself
as a global leader in urban forestry.
Useful links
http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/Sustainability/
UrbanForest/Pages/About.aspx
http://www.rebuildbydesign.org
Picture 3. Melbourne has developed a new website, Urban Forest Visual, which details the location, genus and lifespan of the city’s urban forest by
precinct. The interactive tree map allows users to explore Melbourne’s tree data, learn more about the life expectancy and diversity of trees in the city,
and submit questions.
7Top 10 Urban Innovations
4.	 Augmented Humans: The Next
	 Generation of Mobility
Why
Modernist visions from the 1920s and 1930s influenced the
development of sprawling, tall, car-centric cities between
freeways that spanned the world. These visions had no
place for walking, cycling, public transport or well-planned,
shared urban spaces that are human in scale, sustainable,
healthy, safe and lively – elements that are now recognized
as essential for cities be environmentally sustainable, lively,
equitable and liveable.
What
Improved safety for pedestrians and non-motorized
transportation leads to greater adoption of public transport,
reduced congestion and pollution, better health and
commutes that are quicker (bicycles are, on average,
40% faster during peak hours), more predictable and less
expensive. Small investments to encourage cycling can
have a large payout, as high as 35:1 according to a recent
UK government study1
. Such relatively low-cost solutions
include separate bike lanes, bike-sharing schemes, re-
phasing traffic lights to fit the speed of bikes and planting
trees along the side of roads to slow traffic.
Potential
With advances in sensors, optics and embedded
processors, a whole new breed of transportation solutions
could emerge. For example, cycling could be further
popularized by innovations such as the Copenhagen
Wheel, an add-on to existing bikes conceived by the
MIT Senseable City Lab that makes it easier to cycle by
augmenting pedal power with a battery that captures
energy as you brake or go downhill.
Picture 4. The Copenhagen Wheel transforms your bicycle into a smart electric hybrid. The Wheel contains a motor, batteries, multiple sensors,
wireless connectivity and an embedded control system. The Wheel learns how you pedal and integrates seamlessly with your motion, multiplying your
pedal power.
1
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_
data/file/348943/vfm-assessment-of-cycling-grants.pdf
8 Top 10 Urban Innovations
5.	 Co-Co-Co: Co-generating,
	 Co-heating, Co-cooling
Why
Around three-fifths of CO2 emissions come from the
generation of electricity, heat and industrial usage (IEA
Statistics 2011). Due to factors including population growth,
economic development, urbanization and industrialization,
global energy consumption is projected to increase by
around half from 2010 to 2035, reaching some 226 billion
MWh (WEO 2010; EIA 2011). In the absence of technological
breakthroughs, this increase in energy use will lead to a
proportional increase in CO2 emissions.
What
In conventional power plants, electricity generation
produces wasted heat. “Cogeneration” mechanical systems
capture and use the excess heat, significantly improving
energy efficiency. Specifically, “trigeneration” systems use
the heat either to heat buildings or to cool them, through
absorption refrigerator technology – for example, cooling
office complexes that house large numbers of computers.
Trigeneration is making inroads into Scandinavia, southern
Europe, South Korea and Japan.
Potential
Quad generation goes one step further, also including the
recovery of carbon dioxide from the generation of electricity
and heat through burning gas. The CO2 can be used in
industrial processes, horticulture or the food industry, such
as carbonating soft drinks. A quad generation setup offers
operational flexibility, reduced operational cost and the
potential for low or zero operational carbon emissions. The
main challenge in such systems is the initial investment.
Useful links
http://www.digital21.gov.hk
http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/index.html
http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_
file/0007/193057/Trigeneration-Master-Plan-Kinesis.pdf 	
	
Picture 5. Extracts from Sydney’s Trigeneration Masterplan. The project will contribute to Sustainable Sydney 2030 by reducing the city’s annual
carbon emissions by 3% and reducing energy bills for Town Hall and Town Hall House by an average of 320,000 USD per year over the life of the
project.
9Top 10 Urban Innovations
6.	 The Sharing City: Unleashing
	 Spare Capacity
Why
Since the first Industrial Revolution, consumption patterns
have tended to be linear – a “take, make, consume and
dispose” economic model, which leads to intensive use
of materials and energy. Moving towards a more circular
economy will help to reduce resource use and emissions.
The circular economy is closely linked to the idea of the
sharing economy, in which the culture of consumption
changes towards regarding products as service, ensuring
they are used in the most efficient way.
What
Websites such as Airbnb make it easier for unused space
to be rented out, reducing the amount of wasted capacity
in terms of houses standing empty. Likewise, many city
residents are reducing wasted capacity in commutes by
using websites to carpool, or even ditching car ownership
altogether in favour of web-facilitated car sharing clubs,
which now exist in cities around the globe. Websites such
as Streetbank make it easier for city residents to share other
products, or pass them on when they are no longer being
used.
Potential
There are opportunities to expand the principle of sharing
to the provision of physical, social and recreational
infrastructure. Co-location reduces the need for
infrastructure and enables more to be achieved with less
resource use and at lower cost. For example, co-location
of a new secondary school with a state sports park may
enable gymnasium and other facilities to be shared and
used more intensively; clustering child health services
with schools may achieve better health and education
outcomes; or land not being used by one government
agency may be transferred and used more effectively by
another.
Useful links
www.airbnb.com
www.streetbank.com
www.zipcar.com
Picture 6. The internet makes it much cheaper for individuals to offer traditional goods and services to a larger market. As websites such as Airbnb
show, making it possible to connect with customers anywhere in the world cuts transaction costs and shrinks the advantage of scale that larger chains
hold.
10 Top 10 Urban Innovations
7.	Mobility-on-Demand
Why
Vehicular traffic congestion – and the air pollution that
results from it – comes at great monetary and human cost.
In the 83 largest urban areas of the United States alone,
the time and fuel wasted by congestion has been valued
at 60 billion USD. The World Health Organization estimates
that over one million deaths per year worldwide can be
attributed to outdoor air pollution, in large part caused
by vehicular traffic. Further fatalities are caused by road
accidents.
What
Digital information and communication technologies
could help manage vehicular traffic more efficiently. Real-
time information allows unprecedented monitoring of
urban mobility infrastructure, and opens up new potential
for the exploitation of unused vehicle capacity through
dynamic optimization algorithms. One example is the
“mass transport vehicle routing” algorithm developed by
researchers at Irvine University in California to route vehicles
in real time, meeting demand for picking up and delivering
passengers in fast-varying environments.
Potential
The increasingly widespread use of smartphones and their
growing capabilities for running real-time applications will
make it possible to design new, smarter transportation
systems based on the sharing of cars or minivans. The
on-demand qualities of individual mobility or taxis could
effectively replace public transportation. Self-driving
vehicles promise to have a dramatic impact on urban life,
blurring the distinction between private and public modes
of transportation. “Your” car could give you a lift to work in
the morning and then, rather than sitting idle in a parking
lot, give a lift to someone else in your family – or, for that
matter, to anyone else in your neighborhood, social-media
community, or city.
Useful links
http://hubcab.org
http://www.uctc.net/papers/748.pdf
Picture 7. A recent initiative by the MIT SENSEable City Lab in partnership with Audi and GE, HubCab analyses taxi trips to explore the benefits
and impacts of vehicle sharing in New York City. The data was derived from the records of over 150 million trips made by 13,586 registered taxis in
Manhattan during 2011 (HubCab, 2014). The GPS-enabled taxis reported on the geographic coordinates (longitude and latitude) and time of each trip’s
origin and destination, creating a map of pick-up and drop-off points.
11Top 10 Urban Innovations
8.	 Medellin Revisited:
	 Infrastructure for Social
	Integration
Why
In 1992, Medellin, Colombia, was considered one of
the most dangerous cities in the world. Today, it is seen
as a laboratory of progressive architectural and urban
interventions that were initiated under the mayoral
administration of Sergio Fajardo (2003-2007). Whereas
urban development projects often target specific solutions
to physical problems, Medellin opted for a different
strategy, using architecture and urbanism as tools for social
integration.
What
Projects such as the España Library Park and the city’s
elevated cable car as a mode of public transportation
have been presented as the key symbols of a process that
has led to the city’s spatial, social, economic and cultural
transformation – connecting the city’s low-income residents
and communities with its wealthier commercial centre. As a
result, Medellín has changed in the past 10 years, not just in
its spatial dynamics but also in the mentality and perception
of its inhabitants who now see culture as an important tool
for development. This particular approach to urbanism has
caught the attention of experts who have now come to
see Medellín as an exemplar model in urban planning and
governance.
Potential
Using architecture and urbanism as a tool for social
development can bring surprising results in physical,
functional and behavioural changes. In particular, the
creation of new connections to break down city barriers
between rich and poor can work as an instrument to
contain and gradually eliminate violence in cities.
Useful links
http://www.one.org/international/blog/why-residents-of-
kibera-slum-are-rejecting-new-housing-plans
Picture 8. Medellín’s Metrocable was designed to improve transport and quality of life in informal settlements located on the mountainside, home to
some of the city’s most disadvantaged communities.
12 Top 10 Urban Innovations
9.	 Smart Array: Intelligent Street
	 Poles as a Platform for Urban
	Sensing
Why
Standard street lamps are expensive for municipalities to
maintain and run, and in some cases contain toxic gases.
Over the next few years, 4 billion lights worldwide will be
converted to light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which last longer
than ordinary street lights, consume less energy and
contain fewer hazardous by-products.
What
Next-generation LED street lights can act as a platform
for a host of sensing technologies that collect data on
weather, pollution, seismic activity, the movement of traffic
and people, and noise and air pollution. By linking these
intelligent street poles into a network, it is possible to sense
what is going on across a city in real time and provide
innovative solutions in areas such as public safety or
identifying where there are free parking spaces. One such
system, the Light Sensory Network, was demonstrated by
Cisco, Sensity and the City of Chicago during walking tours
at the Internet of Things World Forum. 	
Potential
The switch to LED technology gives cities the opportunity
to turn streetlights from a “dead asset”, which consumes
energy and money, into a “live asset”, which produces
revenues. How the technology is implemented will
determine how the public receives it; transparency is key
when it comes to public surveillance.
Useful links
www.sensity.com
https://arrayofthings.github.io
Picture 9. The Array of Things (AoT) is an urban sensing project, a network of interactive, modular sensor boxes that will be installed around Chicago to
collect real-time data on the city’s environment, infrastructure, and activity for research and public use. AoT will essentially serve as a “fitness tracker”
for the city, measuring factors that impact liveability in Chicago such as climate, air quality and noise.
13Top 10 Urban Innovations
10.	Urban Farming:
	 Vertical Vegetables
Why
The UN predicts the world’s population will reach 9 billion
by 2050, most of this extra 2 billion will live in cities, feeding
all these new urban residents is going to require a complete
rethink of the global food system. The current system is
hugely wasteful. The Ellen McArthur Foundation found that
45% of perishable vegetables grown in Europe are wasted
before they reach the table, much of this is due to long and
inefficient supply chains.
What
A simple way to cut a lot of waste out of the system is to
move the farm. The roofs of buildings and even the walls
can use soil-less, hydroponic systems to grow food right
on the consumer’s doorstep. Hydroponic systems feed
nutrients straight to the roots, using up to 10 times less
water than traditional means. Advances in LED lights, which
are now highly efficient and emit specific wavelengths for
plant growth, mean that urban farms can be inside and
stacked. Systems such as Aero Farms, stack multiple trays
of veggies, yielding up to 100 times more per square meter
than traditional farms.
Potential
Other companies such as Freight Farms upcycle shipping
containers delivering a plug and play fully working urban
farm all controlled from your smart phone. They can be
placed in redundant space such as carparks and stacked,
instantly scaling urban food production. Aquaponic systems
used by companies such as Sky Greens take the waste
products of fish farms to fertilize the plants, turning fish food
into carp and lettuce. In the original design for London, an
area of farmland was preserved around this city. This “green
belt” was conceived as a way to preserve nature while
ensuring food security for the burgeoning metropolis. The
new wave of urban farming can be seen as a new vertical
green belt feeding the populous while also bringing nature
to the city centre.
Picture 10. Freight farming allows practically anyone to grow fresh produce inside of a standard 40’x8’x9.5’ shipping container.
Brad McNamara and Jon Friedman proposed the idea after realizing that the world needed a more efficient way to grow and receive food.
The idea was originally to create farms on rooftop greenhouses; however, after running into several logistic issues, the two decided to change the
scene of farming to shipping containers.
Photo by: Chris Rank/Bloomberg
10
14 Top 10 Urban Innovations
Contributors
Global Agenda Council on the Future of Cities
Chair
Carlo Ratti, Director, SENSEable City Laboratory, MIT - Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Singapore
Vice Chair
Anil Menon, President, Smart+Connected Communities and Deputy Chief Globalization Officer, Cisco Systems Inc, India.
Council Members
Rob Adams, Director, City Design, City of Melbourne, Australia
Heng-Chee Chan, Chairman, Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities, Singapore University of Technology and Design
(SUTD) Singapore
Íñigo de la Serna Hernaiz, Mayor of Santander, Spain	
Gretchen Effgen, Executive Vice-President, Business Development, Freight Farms, USA
Rosemary Feenan, Director, Global Research Programmes, JLL, United Kingdom
Abha Joshi-Ghani, Director, Knowledge and Learning, The World Bank, USA
Mary Keeling, Manager, Economic Analysis, Smarter Cities, IBM, Ireland
Li Tie, Director-General, China Center for Urban Development, Peoples Republic of China
Manoj Menda, Corporate Vice-Chairman, RMZ Corp, India
Toshiko	Mori, Robert P. Hubbard Professor in the Practice of Architecture, Harvard University Graduate School of Design,
USA
Adele Naudé Santos, Architect, Urban Designer and Dean of the School of Architecture & Planning, MIT - School of
Architecture and Planning, USA
Juan Jose Pocaterra, Co-Founder and Business Director, ViKua, Venezuela 			
Jens Martin Skibsted, Founding Partner, Skibsted Ideation A/S, Denmark			
Anthony Townsend, Senior Research Scientist, Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management, New York
University, USA
Fleming Voetmann, Head of Sustainability, Public Affairs & Leadership Communication, Danfoss A/S, Denmark
Linar Yakupov, Chief Executive, Tatarstan Investment Development Agency, Russian Federation
World Economic Forum
Alice Charles, Lead, Urban Development, Global Leadership Fellow, World Economic Forum, Switzerland
James Pennington, Specialist, Knowledge Networks and Analysis, World Economic Forum. Switzerland
15Top 10 Urban Innovations
World Economic Forum
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CH-1223 Cologny/Geneva
Switzerland
Tel.: 	+41 (0) 22 869 1212
Fax: +41 (0) 22 786 2744
contact@weforum.org
www.weforum.org
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Public-Private Cooperation.
The Forum engages the
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Top 10 emerging_urban_innovations_report_2010_20.10

  • 1. Global Agenda Prepared by the Global Agenda Council on the Future of Cities October 2015 Top Ten Urban Innovations $ £ £ £¢ ¢ $ $ Û Û £ £ ¢ $Û1. (Digitally) Re-Programmable Space 6. The Sharing City: Unleashing Spare Capacity 2. Waternet: An Internet of Pipes 7. Mobility-on-Demand 3. Adopt a Tree through Your Social Network 8. Medellin Revisited: Infrastructure for Social Integration 4. Augmented Humans: The Next Generation of Mobility 9. Smart Array: Intelligent Street Poles as a Platform for Urban Sensing 5. Co-Co-Co: Co- generating, Co-heating, Co-cooling 10. Urban Farming: Vertical Vegetables
  • 2. © WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM, 2015 – All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system. REF 191015 Contents Introduction 1. (Digitally) Re-Programmable Space 2. Waternet: An Internet of Pipes 3. Adopt a Tree through Your Social Network 4. Augmented Humans: The Next Generation of Mobility 5. Co-Co-Co: Co-generating, Co-heating, Co-cooling 6. The Sharing City: Unleashing Spare Capacity 7. Mobility-on-Demand 8. Medellin Revisited: Infrastructure for Social Integration 9. Smart Array: Intelligent Street Poles as a Platform for Urban Sensing 10. Urban Farming: Vertical Vegetables Contributors 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
  • 3. 3Top 10 Urban Innovations In the 1990s, as the digital revolution began to gather pace, some social commentators speculated that it would lead to the death of the city. People’s geographical location would become less important, the argument went, as they came to interact mostly in cyberspace. Two decades on, the opposite has happened: human beings continue to live very much in the physical realm, and early this century passing the turning point of more people living in urban than rural areas. The UN predicts that by 2050 the world’s urban population will be as big as the world’s total population in 2002. But what will the cities of tomorrow be like? People continue to be drawn to cities by the economic, social and creative opportunities they offer; large cities are more productive than rural areas, producing more patents and yielding higher returns on capital. McKinsey estimates1 that the world’s top 100 cities will account for 35% of global GDP growth between now and 2025. However, urbanization also presents major challenges. The world’s fastest growing cities have seen problems adjusting to growth and industrialization, choking under the burden of pollution, congestion and urban poverty. In the developed world, urban sprawl can lead to individual levels of resource consumption far exceeding those in the developing world. Urban settings magnify global threats such as climate change, water and food security and resource shortages, but also provide a framework for addressing them. If the future of cities cannot be one of unsustainable expansion, it should rather be one of tireless innovation. This report chronicles 10 of the best examples from around the world of how cities are creating innovative solutions to a variety of problems. Many of these solutions are scalable, replicable and can be adapted to a variety of specific urban environments. Some are possible only due to new technologies while others apply technology to ideas that are as old as the city itself. Introduction Within these innovations, four principles surface again and again. They can be seen as a core framework to find innovative solutions to complex urban problems: Unleashing spare capacity: Many innovations cleverly make use of existing yet underutilized resources. Airbnb, for example, enables the renting out of unused private homes; co-locating schools and recreational facilities enables public-private sharing of space; and the circular economy provides opportunities to reuse, recycle and upcycle. Cutting out the peaks: From electricity and water to roads and public transport, upwards of 20% of capacity sits idle for much of the time ready to cope with demand peaks; cutting out these peaks with technology-enabled demand management or innovative pricing structures can significantly limit the burden on financial and natural resources. Small-scale infrastructure thinking: Cities will always need large-infrastructure projects, but sometimes small- scale infrastructure – from cycle lanes and bike sharing to the planting of trees for climate change adaptation – can also have a big impact on an urban area. People-centred innovation: The best way to improve a city is by mobilizing its citizens. From smart traffic lights to garbage taxes, innovations in technology, services and governance are not ends in themselves but means to shape the behaviour and improve the lives of the city’s inhabitants. All innovations should be centred on the citizen, adhering to the principles of universal design and usable by people of all ages and abilities. 1 http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/urbanization/urban_world
  • 4. 4 Top 10 Urban Innovations 1. (Digitally) Re-Programmable Space Why Demands on space in cities are constantly changing as a result of economic growth, demographics and consumer preferences. As urban populations increase from 4 billion to nearly 7 billion over the next 30 years, the world will need to almost double its urban capacity by 2050. There is neither the time nor money to produce the required infrastructure conventionally through large-scale engineering solutions; focus should be on the better use of existing infrastructure. What City centres struggled to adapt to the heavy, invasive technologies of the 20th century but can more easily host the clean, knowledge-based and lightweight industry and digital technologies of today. Cities have started to look at reprogramming their space to get more from less: Vancouver has reduced its allowable urban footprint; Glasgow has moved from a policy of expansion to concentration; New York has been incrementally repurposing asphalt to expand footpaths and open space; and Melbourne has repurposed 86 hectares of underutilized road and other spaces in the last 30 years and aligned new medium to high density residential development around its rail stations and road-based public transport networks. Potential Melbourne’s approach has helped reduce taxes from 13% in 1995 to just over 4%, and if it can accommodate the projected population increase of 3.5 million people by 2050 within its current boundaries, it will reduce required infrastructure funding by an estimated $440 billion over 50 years. As such, treasured historic city centres could again become productive areas, hosting not only “knowledge workers”, but also the emerging “fourth industrial revolution” of 3D printers and digital manufacturing, as technological development enables new ways of organizing work, occupation patterns and places of production. Buildings themselves will also be digitally programmable and able to instantly shift use between a theatre, gymnasium, social centre or night club, further minimising the overall urban footprint. Useful links http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/ParksandActivities/Parks/ Pages/ErrolStreet.aspx https://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/AboutMelbourne/ Statistics/Documents/TransformingCitiesMay2010.pdf Picture 1. A multi-storey car park in Miami Beach also plays host to parties, yoga classes and weddings. The concrete building with floor slabs supported on wedge-shaped columns was completed in 2010 to offer naturally lit parking levels that can also be used for other activities above a row of shops and restaurants.
  • 5. 5Top 10 Urban Innovations 2. Waternet: An Internet of Pipes Why Population growth, ecological threats and climate change all make it more critical than ever to efficiently manage and protect limited freshwater resources. By 2030, it is estimated that freshwater demand could outpace supply by 40%. Currently, the average water loss due to leakage is estimated at 25-30%, with some utilities agencies allowing it to rise to over 50%. What Smart water management models use sensors in network pipes to monitor flow and manage the entire water cycle, providing sustainable water for human and ecological needs. Companies such as TaKaDu, based in Israel, are creating cloud-based solutions to connect water pipes to the Internet of Things, enabling a proactive approach to flood control and rainwater collection, and the identification of weak points or blockages in the network before major damage occurs. For example, in Queensland, Australia, Unitywater cut its direct water losses by one billion litres in one year, saving $1.9 million; it reduced the time it took to detect and resolve network events by two-thirds, and increased availability by almost 20%. Potential Sensors in sewage pipes, using new techniques developed at MIT, could allow for scientists to analyse bacteria and viruses, monitoring the impact of health policies and more quickly detecting the outbreak and spread of infectious diseases such as flu strains. Such early warnings could help to prevent pandemics, saving lives and significantly reducing medical costs. Useful links www.takadu.com http://www.ch2m.com/corporate/water/water-resources http://underworlds.mit.edu Picture 2. A team of MIT researchers, led by professors Carlo Ratti, Director of the Senseable City Lab in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, and Eric Alm, Director of a laboratory in the Department of Biological Engineering, have developed a system to collect and analyse biochemical information from sewage water, what could be thought of as a “smart sewage platform”. The project, called Underworlds, is being tested in Cambridge, MA. $ £ £ £¢ ¢ $ $ Û Û £ £ ¢ $Û
  • 6. 6 Top 10 Urban Innovations 3. Adopt a Tree through Your Social Network Why The International Panel on Climate Change foresees an increase in extreme weather events that will challenge cities, especially in developing countries. The dominant engineering approach has been to build walls, bulkheads, levees and other fortifications to minimize the effects of future storms and sea level rises. A less appreciated response is planting more trees. Studies show that increasing a city’s green area by 10% could compensate for the temperature increase caused by climate change: vegetation helps to block shortwave radiation while also evaporating water, cooling the ambient air and creating more comfortable microclimates. Tree canopies and root systems can also reduce stormwater flows and balance nutrient loads. What Melbourne encourages citizens to take pride in urban greenery through its Urban Forest Strategy, consisting of over 70,000 trees. All trees are tagged on a central database: citizens can adopt a tree, name it, track its growth and carbon offset and share this data through their social networks. Each tree has its own email address which allows citizens to report defects and diseases and even send love letters. Potential Trees now cover 22% of Melbourne, a figure that will rise to 40% by 2040. By developing tools and processes for measuring and modelling the potential of trees to mitigate the effects of climate change, Melbourne is positioning itself as a global leader in urban forestry. Useful links http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/Sustainability/ UrbanForest/Pages/About.aspx http://www.rebuildbydesign.org Picture 3. Melbourne has developed a new website, Urban Forest Visual, which details the location, genus and lifespan of the city’s urban forest by precinct. The interactive tree map allows users to explore Melbourne’s tree data, learn more about the life expectancy and diversity of trees in the city, and submit questions.
  • 7. 7Top 10 Urban Innovations 4. Augmented Humans: The Next Generation of Mobility Why Modernist visions from the 1920s and 1930s influenced the development of sprawling, tall, car-centric cities between freeways that spanned the world. These visions had no place for walking, cycling, public transport or well-planned, shared urban spaces that are human in scale, sustainable, healthy, safe and lively – elements that are now recognized as essential for cities be environmentally sustainable, lively, equitable and liveable. What Improved safety for pedestrians and non-motorized transportation leads to greater adoption of public transport, reduced congestion and pollution, better health and commutes that are quicker (bicycles are, on average, 40% faster during peak hours), more predictable and less expensive. Small investments to encourage cycling can have a large payout, as high as 35:1 according to a recent UK government study1 . Such relatively low-cost solutions include separate bike lanes, bike-sharing schemes, re- phasing traffic lights to fit the speed of bikes and planting trees along the side of roads to slow traffic. Potential With advances in sensors, optics and embedded processors, a whole new breed of transportation solutions could emerge. For example, cycling could be further popularized by innovations such as the Copenhagen Wheel, an add-on to existing bikes conceived by the MIT Senseable City Lab that makes it easier to cycle by augmenting pedal power with a battery that captures energy as you brake or go downhill. Picture 4. The Copenhagen Wheel transforms your bicycle into a smart electric hybrid. The Wheel contains a motor, batteries, multiple sensors, wireless connectivity and an embedded control system. The Wheel learns how you pedal and integrates seamlessly with your motion, multiplying your pedal power. 1 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_ data/file/348943/vfm-assessment-of-cycling-grants.pdf
  • 8. 8 Top 10 Urban Innovations 5. Co-Co-Co: Co-generating, Co-heating, Co-cooling Why Around three-fifths of CO2 emissions come from the generation of electricity, heat and industrial usage (IEA Statistics 2011). Due to factors including population growth, economic development, urbanization and industrialization, global energy consumption is projected to increase by around half from 2010 to 2035, reaching some 226 billion MWh (WEO 2010; EIA 2011). In the absence of technological breakthroughs, this increase in energy use will lead to a proportional increase in CO2 emissions. What In conventional power plants, electricity generation produces wasted heat. “Cogeneration” mechanical systems capture and use the excess heat, significantly improving energy efficiency. Specifically, “trigeneration” systems use the heat either to heat buildings or to cool them, through absorption refrigerator technology – for example, cooling office complexes that house large numbers of computers. Trigeneration is making inroads into Scandinavia, southern Europe, South Korea and Japan. Potential Quad generation goes one step further, also including the recovery of carbon dioxide from the generation of electricity and heat through burning gas. The CO2 can be used in industrial processes, horticulture or the food industry, such as carbonating soft drinks. A quad generation setup offers operational flexibility, reduced operational cost and the potential for low or zero operational carbon emissions. The main challenge in such systems is the initial investment. Useful links http://www.digital21.gov.hk http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/index.html http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_ file/0007/193057/Trigeneration-Master-Plan-Kinesis.pdf Picture 5. Extracts from Sydney’s Trigeneration Masterplan. The project will contribute to Sustainable Sydney 2030 by reducing the city’s annual carbon emissions by 3% and reducing energy bills for Town Hall and Town Hall House by an average of 320,000 USD per year over the life of the project.
  • 9. 9Top 10 Urban Innovations 6. The Sharing City: Unleashing Spare Capacity Why Since the first Industrial Revolution, consumption patterns have tended to be linear – a “take, make, consume and dispose” economic model, which leads to intensive use of materials and energy. Moving towards a more circular economy will help to reduce resource use and emissions. The circular economy is closely linked to the idea of the sharing economy, in which the culture of consumption changes towards regarding products as service, ensuring they are used in the most efficient way. What Websites such as Airbnb make it easier for unused space to be rented out, reducing the amount of wasted capacity in terms of houses standing empty. Likewise, many city residents are reducing wasted capacity in commutes by using websites to carpool, or even ditching car ownership altogether in favour of web-facilitated car sharing clubs, which now exist in cities around the globe. Websites such as Streetbank make it easier for city residents to share other products, or pass them on when they are no longer being used. Potential There are opportunities to expand the principle of sharing to the provision of physical, social and recreational infrastructure. Co-location reduces the need for infrastructure and enables more to be achieved with less resource use and at lower cost. For example, co-location of a new secondary school with a state sports park may enable gymnasium and other facilities to be shared and used more intensively; clustering child health services with schools may achieve better health and education outcomes; or land not being used by one government agency may be transferred and used more effectively by another. Useful links www.airbnb.com www.streetbank.com www.zipcar.com Picture 6. The internet makes it much cheaper for individuals to offer traditional goods and services to a larger market. As websites such as Airbnb show, making it possible to connect with customers anywhere in the world cuts transaction costs and shrinks the advantage of scale that larger chains hold.
  • 10. 10 Top 10 Urban Innovations 7. Mobility-on-Demand Why Vehicular traffic congestion – and the air pollution that results from it – comes at great monetary and human cost. In the 83 largest urban areas of the United States alone, the time and fuel wasted by congestion has been valued at 60 billion USD. The World Health Organization estimates that over one million deaths per year worldwide can be attributed to outdoor air pollution, in large part caused by vehicular traffic. Further fatalities are caused by road accidents. What Digital information and communication technologies could help manage vehicular traffic more efficiently. Real- time information allows unprecedented monitoring of urban mobility infrastructure, and opens up new potential for the exploitation of unused vehicle capacity through dynamic optimization algorithms. One example is the “mass transport vehicle routing” algorithm developed by researchers at Irvine University in California to route vehicles in real time, meeting demand for picking up and delivering passengers in fast-varying environments. Potential The increasingly widespread use of smartphones and their growing capabilities for running real-time applications will make it possible to design new, smarter transportation systems based on the sharing of cars or minivans. The on-demand qualities of individual mobility or taxis could effectively replace public transportation. Self-driving vehicles promise to have a dramatic impact on urban life, blurring the distinction between private and public modes of transportation. “Your” car could give you a lift to work in the morning and then, rather than sitting idle in a parking lot, give a lift to someone else in your family – or, for that matter, to anyone else in your neighborhood, social-media community, or city. Useful links http://hubcab.org http://www.uctc.net/papers/748.pdf Picture 7. A recent initiative by the MIT SENSEable City Lab in partnership with Audi and GE, HubCab analyses taxi trips to explore the benefits and impacts of vehicle sharing in New York City. The data was derived from the records of over 150 million trips made by 13,586 registered taxis in Manhattan during 2011 (HubCab, 2014). The GPS-enabled taxis reported on the geographic coordinates (longitude and latitude) and time of each trip’s origin and destination, creating a map of pick-up and drop-off points.
  • 11. 11Top 10 Urban Innovations 8. Medellin Revisited: Infrastructure for Social Integration Why In 1992, Medellin, Colombia, was considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Today, it is seen as a laboratory of progressive architectural and urban interventions that were initiated under the mayoral administration of Sergio Fajardo (2003-2007). Whereas urban development projects often target specific solutions to physical problems, Medellin opted for a different strategy, using architecture and urbanism as tools for social integration. What Projects such as the España Library Park and the city’s elevated cable car as a mode of public transportation have been presented as the key symbols of a process that has led to the city’s spatial, social, economic and cultural transformation – connecting the city’s low-income residents and communities with its wealthier commercial centre. As a result, Medellín has changed in the past 10 years, not just in its spatial dynamics but also in the mentality and perception of its inhabitants who now see culture as an important tool for development. This particular approach to urbanism has caught the attention of experts who have now come to see Medellín as an exemplar model in urban planning and governance. Potential Using architecture and urbanism as a tool for social development can bring surprising results in physical, functional and behavioural changes. In particular, the creation of new connections to break down city barriers between rich and poor can work as an instrument to contain and gradually eliminate violence in cities. Useful links http://www.one.org/international/blog/why-residents-of- kibera-slum-are-rejecting-new-housing-plans Picture 8. Medellín’s Metrocable was designed to improve transport and quality of life in informal settlements located on the mountainside, home to some of the city’s most disadvantaged communities.
  • 12. 12 Top 10 Urban Innovations 9. Smart Array: Intelligent Street Poles as a Platform for Urban Sensing Why Standard street lamps are expensive for municipalities to maintain and run, and in some cases contain toxic gases. Over the next few years, 4 billion lights worldwide will be converted to light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which last longer than ordinary street lights, consume less energy and contain fewer hazardous by-products. What Next-generation LED street lights can act as a platform for a host of sensing technologies that collect data on weather, pollution, seismic activity, the movement of traffic and people, and noise and air pollution. By linking these intelligent street poles into a network, it is possible to sense what is going on across a city in real time and provide innovative solutions in areas such as public safety or identifying where there are free parking spaces. One such system, the Light Sensory Network, was demonstrated by Cisco, Sensity and the City of Chicago during walking tours at the Internet of Things World Forum. Potential The switch to LED technology gives cities the opportunity to turn streetlights from a “dead asset”, which consumes energy and money, into a “live asset”, which produces revenues. How the technology is implemented will determine how the public receives it; transparency is key when it comes to public surveillance. Useful links www.sensity.com https://arrayofthings.github.io Picture 9. The Array of Things (AoT) is an urban sensing project, a network of interactive, modular sensor boxes that will be installed around Chicago to collect real-time data on the city’s environment, infrastructure, and activity for research and public use. AoT will essentially serve as a “fitness tracker” for the city, measuring factors that impact liveability in Chicago such as climate, air quality and noise.
  • 13. 13Top 10 Urban Innovations 10. Urban Farming: Vertical Vegetables Why The UN predicts the world’s population will reach 9 billion by 2050, most of this extra 2 billion will live in cities, feeding all these new urban residents is going to require a complete rethink of the global food system. The current system is hugely wasteful. The Ellen McArthur Foundation found that 45% of perishable vegetables grown in Europe are wasted before they reach the table, much of this is due to long and inefficient supply chains. What A simple way to cut a lot of waste out of the system is to move the farm. The roofs of buildings and even the walls can use soil-less, hydroponic systems to grow food right on the consumer’s doorstep. Hydroponic systems feed nutrients straight to the roots, using up to 10 times less water than traditional means. Advances in LED lights, which are now highly efficient and emit specific wavelengths for plant growth, mean that urban farms can be inside and stacked. Systems such as Aero Farms, stack multiple trays of veggies, yielding up to 100 times more per square meter than traditional farms. Potential Other companies such as Freight Farms upcycle shipping containers delivering a plug and play fully working urban farm all controlled from your smart phone. They can be placed in redundant space such as carparks and stacked, instantly scaling urban food production. Aquaponic systems used by companies such as Sky Greens take the waste products of fish farms to fertilize the plants, turning fish food into carp and lettuce. In the original design for London, an area of farmland was preserved around this city. This “green belt” was conceived as a way to preserve nature while ensuring food security for the burgeoning metropolis. The new wave of urban farming can be seen as a new vertical green belt feeding the populous while also bringing nature to the city centre. Picture 10. Freight farming allows practically anyone to grow fresh produce inside of a standard 40’x8’x9.5’ shipping container. Brad McNamara and Jon Friedman proposed the idea after realizing that the world needed a more efficient way to grow and receive food. The idea was originally to create farms on rooftop greenhouses; however, after running into several logistic issues, the two decided to change the scene of farming to shipping containers. Photo by: Chris Rank/Bloomberg 10
  • 14. 14 Top 10 Urban Innovations Contributors Global Agenda Council on the Future of Cities Chair Carlo Ratti, Director, SENSEable City Laboratory, MIT - Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Singapore Vice Chair Anil Menon, President, Smart+Connected Communities and Deputy Chief Globalization Officer, Cisco Systems Inc, India. Council Members Rob Adams, Director, City Design, City of Melbourne, Australia Heng-Chee Chan, Chairman, Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities, Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) Singapore Íñigo de la Serna Hernaiz, Mayor of Santander, Spain Gretchen Effgen, Executive Vice-President, Business Development, Freight Farms, USA Rosemary Feenan, Director, Global Research Programmes, JLL, United Kingdom Abha Joshi-Ghani, Director, Knowledge and Learning, The World Bank, USA Mary Keeling, Manager, Economic Analysis, Smarter Cities, IBM, Ireland Li Tie, Director-General, China Center for Urban Development, Peoples Republic of China Manoj Menda, Corporate Vice-Chairman, RMZ Corp, India Toshiko Mori, Robert P. Hubbard Professor in the Practice of Architecture, Harvard University Graduate School of Design, USA Adele Naudé Santos, Architect, Urban Designer and Dean of the School of Architecture & Planning, MIT - School of Architecture and Planning, USA Juan Jose Pocaterra, Co-Founder and Business Director, ViKua, Venezuela Jens Martin Skibsted, Founding Partner, Skibsted Ideation A/S, Denmark Anthony Townsend, Senior Research Scientist, Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management, New York University, USA Fleming Voetmann, Head of Sustainability, Public Affairs & Leadership Communication, Danfoss A/S, Denmark Linar Yakupov, Chief Executive, Tatarstan Investment Development Agency, Russian Federation World Economic Forum Alice Charles, Lead, Urban Development, Global Leadership Fellow, World Economic Forum, Switzerland James Pennington, Specialist, Knowledge Networks and Analysis, World Economic Forum. Switzerland
  • 15. 15Top 10 Urban Innovations
  • 16. World Economic Forum 91–93 route de la Capite CH-1223 Cologny/Geneva Switzerland Tel.: +41 (0) 22 869 1212 Fax: +41 (0) 22 786 2744 contact@weforum.org www.weforum.org The World Economic Forum – committed to improving the state of the world – is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. The Forum engages the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.