“The point of cities is multiplicity of choice,” said Jane Jacobs, the champion of cities who penned the breakthrough 1961 critique of urban renewal, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. We think it’s a good idea to give a multiplicity of people who are interested in the future of cities opportunities to learn about it and do something about it. That’s why we’re conducting a virtual Smarter Cities event on Feb. 23 (10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Eastern U.S. Time) as we mentioned here on this blog a few days ago.
This Smarter Cities phenomenon is really taking off. We’ve held major terrestrial events in Berlin and New York, and plan another in Shanghai this summer. We’ve also staged dozens of mini-events in cities throughout the world. So going online is an obvious next step. Anybody who wants to participate is welcome. Register on ibm.com.
The event will start off with a handful of speeches delivered by government and business leaders who are up to their elbows in making cities work better. They include Bev Perdue, governor of North Carolina, and Joseph Rigby, chairman of utility giant Pepco Holdings. Our own Bridget van Kralingen, IBM general manager, North America, will launch the event with an update on our Smarter Planet initiative. (One tidbit: A little more than a year after launching the initiative, we have 1200 partnerships with clients worldwide–a faster uptake than we expected.) Gov. Purdue will talk about a test project in Charlotte aimed at revolutionizing the way highways are built. Using a public-private partnership model, North Carolina is teaming up with developers who will not only perform the design and construction of the new highway sections, but will invest some of their own money, as well. If this approach works in Charlotte, Perdue plans on rolling it out across the state.
After a lunch break (you’re on your own for that), there will be breakout sessions focusing on education, public safety, transportation, government, energy, and healthcare. As somebody who attended university in Pittsburgh, I’m particularly interested in hearing from Dr. Daniel Martich, the chief medical information officer at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. UPMC is reinventing itself as a laboratory for innovations in healthcare technology and new approaches to delivering care.
For participants, there will be plenty of opportunities to weigh in. There will be a question-and-answer session after the major addresses and interactive discussions during each breakout panel. Participants will type their comments and questions on their computers.
Who knows, maybe the next Jane Jacobs will emerge out of one of these events. The pool of brainpower is certainly getting big enough to make that possible.