Jim Morris's Thought of the Week (or month, or year, ...)
Monday, February 25, 2008
Cisco’s Connected Urban Development Conference
John Chambers made a commitment to the Clinton Global Initiatives Foundation to do something about the environment and the Connected Urban Development is it. My initial suspicion that it was Cisco-serving was dispelled. From Chambers on down, all the Cisco people at the conference were focused on higher goals, were businesslike, and sincere. Because 50% of the world’s population and 80% of the CO2 comes from cities the program is focused there. Half of the CO2 generally comes from transport and half from building. San Francisco, Amsterdam, and Seoul are the initial members; Lisbon, Madrid, Hamburg, and Birmingham, England have just joined. Cisco appears to be the gatekeeper and financial backer. Each city has its own program to become more sustainable. I would love to see Pittsburgh join someday.
For me, the great insights were about how computers (called ICT by Europeans) can be the basis for sustainability. Partly, this is Cisco pushing its industry; there were compelling cases made, especially by Carlota Perez, a renowned Venezuelan researcher (http://www.carlotaperez.org/). She reviewed five technology revolutions (Industrial, Steam, Steel, Automobile, and Information) and emphasized how they changed life paradigms. Echoing others, she claimed that the way forward on mastering climate change must be through improving the quality of life today. Her theory suggests that we are at the mid-point of the information revolution and it is time for the financial sector to behave themselves and play a supporting role.The coolest technology presentation was by William Mitchell, Director of MIT’s Design Laboratories. He described the City Car (http://cities.media.mit.edu/projects/citycar.html), a truly revolutionary system of robotic urban taxis. I focused on the transportation sessions. The most compelling performance was from Todd Litman from Victoria, BC who claimed that the most important technology in transportation was the roller board suitcase! Ridiculing supersonic planes and their ilk, he argued that roller boards allow people to walk more places with more stuff. I personally think the cell phone can also become a significant factor in transportation if only by killing off drivers who use it. Other notable people there included:
- Robin Chase, founder of ZipCar, who has new ideas about ride sharing (www.goloco.org) and wireless infrastructure
- Craig of Craigslist.
- Gary Bridge, Cisco VP, who appears to be the driver of this effort.
Labels: Cisco, climate change, transportation
posted by Jim Morris @ 9:31 AM