You probably don’t read the same nerdy stuff I do – but have you noticed the number of news stories about “wage stagnation” lately? The term means that the economy may be growing again, but average wages are not. The headline statistic in the US is that the average wage today has the same purchasing power as the average wage in 1979. In other words, the average worker has been standing still, economically, for nearly 40 years. In the UK, the bottom 90% of earners (which is most of us) had more or less the same income in 2012 as in 2000. In Germany, the bottom 90% earned less in 2008 than they had in 1992. In seven European nations, the average worker has seen wages fall every year since 2009.
And you’ve been wondering where all this populist anger is coming from?
Cities are not static geographic entities. They are constantly changing environments where people live, work, explore and raise their families. They also have constantly changing requirements and must be resilient to challenges, sometimes threatening and others slowly transforming them. Communities of all shapes, sizes and locations share some common challenges that make them similar.Read more
In Melbourne, an application called “Ask Izzy” provides the homeless with daily, on-demand updates on the locations where food, accommodations and social services may be accessed for free or at huge discounts. The application is well received because it keeps the information it receives from the homeless population strictly personal and confidential through use of smartphones, which over 75% of Melbourne’s homeless population have access to. Access to the Internet is highly affordable since they use the free Wi-Fi available in the central area and access free commercially promoted chargers. Many of their smartphones come through donations and as recycled models that can access the Ask Izzy site. Coupled with this site is another online application called “Go Digi” that helps homeless and unemployed Australians to learn how to use the Internet and develop digital skills, access information, mentors and other resources. In order to rise out of perpetual homelessness and poverty, Go Digi attempts to support the urban poor with options for self-improvement, especially to bridge the digital divide. Through mentorship and encouragement, people can seek opportunities to develop digital skills and identify opportunities for employment and housing, all the while creating a sense of self-worth.Read more
In 2010 I was invited to visit Eindhoven in The Netherlands. My accommodations for the visit was to stay in their new Smart Home developed with Phillips and other Dutch technologies. It was explained to me that I was the first tenant of this new, unique smart house and the data generated from my visit would help researchers in exploring the convergence of computing, communications and their new products in a unique residential environment. I would be a test case experiencing all levels of the new ubiquitous technologies in terms of tele-working, distance healthcare, tele-communicating, distance education, tele-shopping and entertaining in this unique residential ecosystem. The demonstration site would also generate data and reports during my visit, especially from an independent living perspective, with distance care-givers monitoring my health and activities while in the smart home. I would be monitored on how I coped with the smart home’s automation, communications, entertainment, education, health and security systems. Despite the many changes in technology since then, these are still the same key areas that smart houses would likely offer its tenants, today and into the future.Read more
Between 1860 and 1900, inventors created the telephone, phonograph, moving pictures and air transportation. Thomas Edison tested the first practical lightbulb, Karl Benz built a workable internal combustion engine and David Edward Hughes transmitted the first wireless signal – and they did it during just one three-month period in 1879. The result was a golden age of economic growth from about 1900 through the 1960s, with a broad-based rise in incomes across the industrialized world.Read more
|Lou and ICF awaited the Top7 at the American Museum of Finance on Wall Street.
Did anyone notice that Washington D.C. declared “Infrastructure Week” during the week of June 6? (LOL)
Fortunately, a few hundred miles north of the USA’s skittish capitol, in New York, the actual work of the new global infrastructure was on display. During the ICF’s first Summit in New York since 2014, we really were talking seriously about how broadband, knowledge work and implementing exotic things like the “Triple Helix” in Vietnam were bringing hope, prosperity and real change in the places we call “home.”
There is hope at the local levels. In fact, while national governments have their own “hyper” moment right now, local communities are giving “hyper” a good name.
This year’s Summit was also a Moveable Feast. One thing you need to know about an #ICFSummit: we really do not like to be in one place, especially some stale, over-chilled hotel conference room. When we do our thing we want people to experience the hyper city of New York, not the hype from a hotel conference room podium. A hotel is not a city.
A city is.Read more
In a classic essay, the anthropologist Anthony C.W. Wallace described the phenomenon of cultural awakenings. Such movements are triggered, he said, by stress. “The mazeways of the culture, the customary patterns of behavior, are blocked. People cannot move into the roles they anticipated; their lives do not unfold in the ways they had been led to expect.”
Under the duress of disintegration, both social and economic, a few creative individuals—Wallace called them “New Lights”—propose a way out. They create new pathways through the maze. At first there is nativist backlash, in which traditionalists urge a return to old ways. But eventually the New Lights prevail. Their ideas are adopted, and the society moves into a new era.
Let’s just call the 2017 Top7, now all arrived in New York, the “New Lights.”Read more
This week is the annual summit of the Intelligent Community Forum, where I’m Senior Fellow. Although there are workshops and meetings of the more than 140 intelligent communities from every continent, the events that draws the most attention are the discussions with the Top7 of the year and the ultimate winner.Read more
“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?”
That is not how ICF selects the Intelligent Community of the Year – which we will name on June 8 at our Summit in New York City. Instead, we spend a year on data-gathering, analysis and inspection. The mirror, frankly, would be easier. But it would miss the point. The Intelligent Community of the Year is not the fairest of them all. It is the leader, usually by a few percentage points, among a group of cities and counties that point the way to a better future for every place call home.
In the running again this year is Ipswich in Queensland, Australia. I visited there in May to conduct their Top7 site inspection. Unless you live in Queensland, you have probably never heard of it but it struck me as of the most successful cities on planet Earth.Read more
I can still see the roadway at 6:00 AM, lined with people on bicycles and motorbikes, each carrying enormous bags on their shoulders, tethered to a long stick. The bags are filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, all healthy and large. An agricultural land for centuries was waking to another day, and along the roads, people were starting to spread out their goods. Surprisingly, wood-fired, small grills were already cooking sizzling meats and foods. (At 6:00 AM, I thought? Hmmmm. I could still taste the delicious cooked meat and beer from my late-night meal only a few hours before!) Life was springing up, and everywhere there was movement and calm amidst the chaotic bustling. Around this morning glory of human awakening in Asia’s youngest country, something else was being planned for them, although I am sure few were fully aware of what it was or what it was designed to deliver.Read more