From June 7-9 this year I attended the New Cities Summit. It was held in Songdo, a smart city built on 600 hectares of reclaimed land southwest of Seoul, South Korea and connected to Incheon International Airport by a 12.3-km (7.6 mile) reinforced concrete highway bridge.
The theme Thriving Cities: The Building Blocks of Urban Wellbeing brought together an amazing mix of business leaders, policymakers, entrepreneurs, and innovators, from all over the world, as well as thought leaders in research, science, the civic sector, the arts, and the media who share a passion for urban innovation.
There were eight of us GUIs (Global Urban Innovators) and each of us gave a short presentation. My fellow GUI’s are really astounding – Devin de Vries, Co-Founder of WhereIsMyTransport; Eyal Feder, Chief Executive Officer of ZenCity; Grégoire Landel, CEO of CityTaps; Teo Lee, Chief Executive Officer of Alt-A, which uses various technologies to make spaces shared by human and vehicle traffic safer and smarter; Euwyn Poon, Co-founder and President of Spin; Victor Splittgerber, CTO of GreenCitySolutions; and Kalpana Viswanath, Co-Founder of Safetipin. It’s worth your time to check out these amazing people and their astounding companies. For me, they were the absolute highlight of the conference.
I also took part in a Breakout Panel – The Crowdsourced City, which focused on citizen involvement in decision-making as a key to building community and promoting empowerment, ownership, inclusion, and pride in cities. The other participants were Christopher Cabaldon, Mayor of West Sacramento; Chris Gourlay, Founder & CEO of Spacehive; Hyungsoo Kim, Founder and CEO of Tree Planet; and Mizah Rahman, Director and Co-founder of Participate In Design. The panel was moderated by Neal Gorenflo, Co-Founder of Shareable, who also hosted the Round Table Discussion I was invited to join.
And then there was the networking. Amongst attendees from 50 countries, here are just some of the incredible people I met:
- Chris Gourlay, Founder and CEO of Spacehive – I’ve been following them for years and it was delightful to finally meet Chris!
- Jonathan Andrews, Editor of Cities Today
- Dr. Cheryl Matherly, Vice Provost of Lehigh University, Pennsylvania
- Alfredo Rodriguez, Strategy Manager at World Design Organization, Montreal
- Natalie Voland, Presidente, and Vanessa Mueggler, Directrice des projects at Quo Vadis, Montreal – 2 kickass women. Natalie runs the company of 32 with only one male employee.
- Frances Pisani, journalist and author at Le Monde
- Vera Baboun, Mayor of Bethlehem, Israel
- Sergei Kamalov, Ph.D. in Economics, Associate Professor, MGIMO University, Moscow
- And of course Adam and Olivia from the New Cities Foundation, who were such wonderful hosts.