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From the Summit Chair

The city of the future looks very different from the one that has been the cornerstone of society for the past centuries.  The 2015 Strategic Innovation Summit revealed several trends that pose a fundamental change in how citizens use and interact with their city.  No longer are cities functioning as a source of infrastructure and services and as a common location for brick and mortar companies, they are now becoming a hub of social cohesion where citizens choose to live based on the amenities, social and economic opportunities.   Some examples of changes include:

  • Gig economies – where people work on small jobs, rather than for a full time employer
  • Virtual economies – where people work for companies thousands of miles away or  perhaps in another city across the state
  • People center hours – 9-5 work hours have become part of history, not only do many people work longer hours, they do it in smaller pieces over the span of the entire day.
  • Frictionless economies – the traditional barriers that represented economic opportunities for many companies are fading away – now anyone can buy and sell globally; anyone can design and build anywhere.

What does this mean for a city?  How can it chart a course to enable itself to not only be ready for the future, but thrive in the future?The Summit convened a diverse segment of city stakeholders, from Chief Innovation Officers, to infrastructure providers, educators and successful Entrepreneurs to discuss, and in part, answer the question – how do cities prepare themselves for the innovation economy of the future?The whitepaper contains a distillation and examination of the Summit discussion.  It attempts to capture the spirit and ideas of the Summit, both from the formal presentations and from the informal discussions. In reflecting on the Summit and reviewing the excellent videos, I found five themes that permeated the discussion across several speakers and forums.  I have included these as Innovation Insights which summarize those overarching ides:

  • The focus on utilization rather than availability of technology and infrastructure
  • The critical need for business model innovation
  • Challenge of Experimentation and Risk for innovation in the public sector
  • The emerging importance on people-center infrastructure
  • The role of disruption in innovation

This Summit was an exciting and engaging two days for myself and all of the participants. It is not a conclusion, but rather the start of a discussion, one that address a future that will change not only how we live, but how we think about the role of our city.