November 20, 2013
With the help of leading business thinker Don Tapscott and former FCC (US Federal Communications Commission) Chairman Julius Genachowski, the final morning of NEST 2013 (The Networked Society Forum held in Miami from November 17-19) looked ahead to some of the sweeping institutional transformations driven by connectivity. As industrial models of organization are swept aside, Tapscott pointed out that one form of organization is emerging more strongly than ever: what he called the open networked city. Telecoms, he said, will continue to deliver the value-added infrastructures, and future generations will self-organize to make the most of them.
Genachowski further broke down the current transformation into three trends: ubiquitous connectivity, the great device shift from desktop to mobile, and the growing dominance of software. These emerging forces, he explained, will create the next generation of opportunities, much in the same way as the electric grid gave rise to enormous innovation in the 20th century.
In a clear sign that Ericsson is prepared to take the next steps beyond Miami, Hans Vestberg concluded the three-day forum by announcing the launch of the Networked Society City Index 2013 report, along with three other new Ericsson initiatives. The first, an expansion of the current City Index, will open up the platform to contributors in order for the next report to include an anticipated 450 cities worldwide. The second is a new intelligent transport research initiative, including discussions with various stakeholders. Finally, Ericsson announced a planned three-year agreement with UN Habitat to provide vital research into ICT’s contribution to socially and environmentally sustainable cities.
These three strong commitments made by Ericsson were a fitting conclusion to an event dedicated to the positive transformation of our cities using ICT.
Inside the NEST hexagon, an unexpected experiment was under way: While the delegates interacted, two young teenagers were hard at work managing a burgeoning virtual city. Acting as mayors in SimCity, they handled the complex tasks of balancing revenues, citizen satisfaction, transport, sewage, water and other factors to transform a dirty industrial city into one powered by education and clean-tech.
The exercise was a collaboration between Ericsson, Miami-Dade County and Future City to consider the implications of a city with ubiquitous connectivity. Taking part in this virtual urban development were Mark Woerner, Assistant District Planner for Miami-Dade County, 14-year-old Padraic Burns and 17-year-old Dominic Yurk. Burns and Yurk are both alumni of Future City, a national non-profit educational organization that teaches youth about urbanization issues using models and SimCity.
Throughout the game, the students experienced some of the real issues facing urban areas like Miami-Dade County on a daily basis. By building parks and green spaces, for instance, property values and local attractiveness rose. In other cases, the biggest real-life difference was politics, which Woerner explained would make seemingly simple issues like razing a park for a new shop a far more lengthy and bureaucratic process. For Woerner, one of the biggest outtakes was that the even the youngest generation of urban planners already has a remarkably deep understanding of the urban challenges that lie ahead.
November 19, 2013
Every month, a population the size of Madrid moves to cities. And by 2019, the number of mobile broadband subscriptions will triple to some eight billion – more than the number of people living on Earth. As the first full day of NEST 2013 kicked off, participants were cast into a swirl of mind-boggling figures highlighting two historic global trends: the exponential growth of both urbanization and access to mobile broadband. Together, Hans Vestberg, Lowell McAdam, Jaime Lerner, Kathy Calvin and Sir Martin Sorrell, helped to outline what this will mean for cities, and for the people and businesses who call them home.
The day’s first session, Redefining Mobility, examined how big data, car sharing and new forms of virtual mobility will ultimately transform our cities into a landscape no longer defined by cars, but by a range of safer, more convenient and efficient mobility services. For Greg Lindsay, it was about thinking of the entire city as a service, where mobility is not just about moving, but about using technology to bring other people – and the city itself – to us. The backbone for these emerging services, Ericsson CTO Ulf Ewaldsson reminded, will come in the form of more powerful, open and standardized networks, together with one of the biggest infrastructural transformations ever experienced: the cloud.
But as all this new data is generated, collected and analyzed in cities, who will own it? Can it be used against us? Will we sell it to service providers? These concerns for trust and privacy carried conversations over into the second session, The Connected Marketplace. Heated debates here emphasized the human concerns of an increasingly digitized world, including the possibility that society may be reaching a threshold, from an era where everyone wanted to be famous, to one where privacy is a scarce and valuable resource.
Under the theme, The Collaborative City, breakout leaders tied up the day’s discussions with in-depth sessions ranging from public security in a digital age to the unconscious cultural impacts of the technologies that define our changing lifestyles. As we enter a world where everything we do takes place in an urbanized, digitized context, it was Hans Vestberg who summed up the day’s provocative and enlightening discussions best. The whole idea of bringing all these leading minds here today, he said, is to get everyone to rethink what they’re doing – to set aside their daily concerns, and to think about what’s next.
November 18, 2013
Speaking on the eve of this year’s NEST – The Networked Society Forum, Ericsson President and CEO Hans Vestberg welcomed some 60 global experts and industry leaders who will discuss the future of urban life over the coming two days. In a series of informal fireside chats in Miami Beach, Vestberg was joined by actor, director and proponent of global youth initiatives, Forest Whitaker, FCC Commissioner, Mignon Clyburn, and Chairman of the New Cities Foundation, John Rossant.
Kicking off the evening, Whitaker shared inspiring stories from his involvement with youth projects in Uganda and the Sudan. By combining ICT programs with education and conflict resolution, he has witnessed firsthand the transformation that takes place when a child connects online and feels acknowledged for the first time. He explained: "When you log onto the computer, you say, ‘I exist. I’m important. I’m part of this world." It was a powerful testament to the power of connected learning – one also confirmed in a new report launched yesterday in collaboration with Ericsson and Columbia University’s Earth Institute. The report follows up on a commitment launched at the inaugural NEST Forum in Hong Kong in 2011, which focused on ICT and education.
Linking to the theme for NEST 2013, the talks touched upon another major driver of social development: the attraction of cities. "If you ask people where they want to move," said Rossant, "they say Berlin or Prague. They don’t name a country." Faced with this megatrend of urbanization, Clyburn urged the importance for telecom companies to ensure that everyone’s most critical communications needs are met. "Today digital literacy is literacy," said Clyburn, emphasizing that all stakeholders will need to be more creative in their partnerships to ensure that even the most vulnerable communities are served as we enter into an increasingly urbanized world.