DiscoverTED Radio HourBuilding Better Cities

Building Better Cities

Update: 2017-03-312
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Cities are among our greatest experiments in human co-habitation. Do they also hold the answers to some of our biggest problems? This hour, TED speakers explore how cities can change the world. (Original Broadcast Date: January 08, 2016).

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support for this podcast and the following message come from Dell technologies presenting Trailblazers with Walter Isaacson a podcast that will put you inside the heads of business leaders as they grapple with how to transform their industries and the face of digital disruption available from your favorite podcast app its guy here just so you know we've got a new episode next week but in the meantime take a listen to this one from our archives it's called Building Better Cities and it's all about how future cities might hold the answers to some of our biggest problems this is the Head Radio Hour each week groundbreaking had talked at the Ted Technology Entertainment Design Design at Stanford delivered and had conferences around the world gift of the human imagination we had to believe in impossible the true nature of reality beckons just beyond those talks those ideas adapted for radio NPR guy rushed the e mail so think about how you respond to the question the way from the baby saved Pittsburgh or Sao Paolo or Berlin but probably not the US or Brazil or Germany because cities are often the places we most identify with the over the next twenty or so years almost two thirds of us on this planet we live in or around cities like laboratories places of experimentation of possibility that there are also places with big problems that affect all of us on the show today we're going to explore the big ideas that come out of cities and how those ideas could shape the way our whole world is organized the first of the story that ends with an idea of improving cities but it starts in traffic the specifically traffic in Boston Massachusetts which is where Dan York where Chad had just moved to from London the big difference between London and Boston was that not many people were biking in Boston this is about five years ago and Daniel was biking he moved to Boston for a job at MIT but before that he mostly lived in small towns in Europe and so I feel that they can move better bike ok so once he got to Boston Daniel did what most of us do when we're in a new place and we need to figure out how to get somewhere he pulled out a smartphone he opened up the mapping app Fiesta for the best route and the mapping I told Daniel that the most efficient way to go the fastest way was to take Massachusetts abt myself is a big road with the bridge and there are a lot of cars are a bit I mean it was the easiest way or in terms of landmarks in terms of the interior of the direct way exactly but not pleasant know not pleasant at all not only were there no bike lanes then the usually traffic lights where optimize for car traffic which made certain intersections hard across so it was a bit stressful experience to go through that road Daniel was choking on exhaust fumes he was weaving in and out of traffic it was fast but not so fun so after a few weeks of this he started thinking maybe was not a conscious process it was more lie I got fed up of of this and doing the same so I just sat on my tray a different road all the So one morning Danielle left his house and he ignored the mapping happy just stuck to the side streets the alleys this little one way roads that he never really bothered with before and what happened next here's Danielle had stage I just remember a feeling of surprise surprise of finding a St we know costs as opposed to the nearby mass of food of cos surprise of finding a St but the leaves and surrounded by trees for anti month I was the tropics I'm a bind up the to do need to work became one thing only the shortest puff in the single journey there was no vote o enjoying the road no pleasure in connecting with nature's no possibility of looking people in the on ice and wind because it was saving a minute out of my commute So and so that they just like going a different way just a few minutes longer but I mean it's a good change the whole experience of the city for you yet so it totally changes the experience because you can look at shops you can look a little thinks that the make the difference of perspective building the ruins of buildings and also just the very fact to look at people's ice kind of than human contact and as a human right we are social animals and that's what we need the arch at happens to be a computer scientist and he uses data to find solutions to the kinds of everyday challenges humans face things like the best way to get from point A to Point B So after he took that different route on his bike and found a more pleasant way to get to work Daniel began to wonder how he could maybe use the power of data to focus less on efficiency no they asked how many of you have never do the mopping up for finding directions most of you if not all the half I don't get me wrong good or mopping ups or degrade his game changers for encouraging people to explore the city you take your phone out to you where to go however the post assumes only a hen full of directions to this nation has the power to make those handful of their actions the definitive direction that this nation Einstein once said a legit was good too from a B to B imagination will take you everywhere so the imagination we needed to understand which parts of the city people find beautiful bays Humberto idea we build the cross was in block form a web game players are shown pairs of wooden since and they're asked to choose which one is more beautiful quiet and have been thousands of years of oats then we're able to see a consensus emerges were able to see which of the urban scenes to make the people had Ensign after Daniel bill that crowd sourcing platform in his research colleagues made a web app that would allow users to add photos of urban scenes around their city is either beautiful or quiet or happy and the Fed that data into a mapping application called the project happy max so Ray know we have a website where you done than where you can food and like you doing boom op say you have point A point B is going to give you two options one option is the shortest buff and the other is the most pleasurable off the habitat yes exactly we care alot about like Smart Cities rides places that are designed for ultra efficiency but I mean why don't people who designed the city's think more about making them enjoyable because of them I said there are like am and our work it's all about efficient way of solving problems so think about the corporate rate Rica and behind Spa City right he's a he's he's saying OK when you go to work he always on time when you go shopping there is no queue and you know what you're going to feel really safe because the CCTV cameras around you yet now efficiency security very important and they make a CD acceptable but it'll make a city great the reality what we need to maximize is not efficiency but we need to maximize the experience of people and ultimately with being the question that now lives in Cambridge England where he runs the social dynamics team at Bell labs you can check out his Ted talk at Ted dot com and can also find out more info there about his happy maps projects and others right working on it for this cause many months since smell the smelly part is smelly much less with busy we mop for the entire Smith escaped the city through live pictures that people leave so you take a picture in the park and then you're not a too brief the words Violet Ambrose daily naps they could be coming soon to a city near you today building Better Cities the idea of the city goes to the heart I think of what it means the human being this is Benjamin Barber he's a senior research scholar at the City University of New York and Benjamin has spent a lot of his professional life studying what makes cities special and I were attracted to human beings are sociable they like being with other human beings their creative which we tend to do together their imaginative which is again a community thing yet the city the township is a mock roll expression an actual manifestation of that social instinct that we have and cities to find out where were born get educated grow up get married where we pray and Play where we get old when we die the Benjamin Barber believes the most challenging problems we face around the world disease poverty terrorism unstoppable but they're also really big so they require a whole new approach here's Benjamin on the Ted stage I democracy is in trouble no question about that it's increasingly irrelevant to the kinds of decisions we face that have to do with global pandemics across the border problem with markets and immigration something that goes beyond national borders with terrorism with war all now cross border problems in fact we live in a twenty first century world of interdependence and when we look for solutions in politics and democracy we are faced with political institutions designed four hundred years ago twenty first century transnational world of problems and challenges seventeenth century world of political institutions in that dilemma lies the central problem of democracy my suggestion is that we change the subject that we stop talking about nations about border states and we start talking about sees the the the soul why cities but a few years ago Benjamin was trying to figure out how governments could tackle huge problems around the world so I began to look around and say where world can we find political institutions where democracy still kind of works and it was there that I came to this old notion of the human community because we see in local government a palpable untouchable form of government local government is democratic government that's what government supposed to be about so it was the sense that cities still function with some resemblance to democracy in a way that no other political institutions do I'll I love the example of you know people say when you ask young people today you know about democracy their cynical they don't believe in it they don't trust democracy but when you come to the town to the city to the neighborhood then these people say Yeah I get that here that I still kind of believe in that still kind of works of course that's not true everywhere at every city town or neighborhood works great for the people who live there but some of them do a lot of them do and when we come back where those places are and what lessons they might hold for the rest of us wherever we live some of the worst scourge is we face those problems can be solved by responsible municipal governments cities working together and Guy rise show today ideas about building better cities stay with us you're listening to Ted Radio Hour from NPR him the O Everyone Just a quick thanks to two of our sponsors who help keep his podcast on the air first to the two thousand seventeen de enero here's Key is director of marketing communications Kimberly Gardner on the new rose driving dynamics right after that the acceleration was fine I can feel I'm at the vehicle was taking off I can see that you get that visceral kind of feel and you can accelerate on the freeway and off you go Ki Hero a smarter kind of crossover all warranties and roadside assistance are limited see retailer for details or go to Kenya com slash Nero thanks also to bracket mortgage by Quicken loans when it comes to that big decision of choosing a mortgage lender it's important to work with someone you can trust who has your best interests in mind with rack in mortgage will get the transparent the online process that gives you the confidence you need to make an informed decision skip the banks give the waiting and go completely on line at Quicken loans dot com slash ideas Jessica equal Housing lender licensed in all fifty states and in my last consumer access dot org Number thirty thirty it's the Ted Radio Hour from NPR and I rise on the show to date ideas about building better cities need so we're just hearing from Benjamin Barber believes that cities hold lessons for solving some of the world's biggest problems I also think that the mayors who run those cities actually lead the way for the rest of us the That's because mayors have an advantage that the presidents and prime ministers don't my premise is that the mayor a prime minister at the opposite ends of the political spectrum to be a prime minister or president you have to have an ideology but mayors are pragmatist they're problem solvers real city mayors have to get things done they have to put the geology and religion and ethnicity aside cities together we saw this a couple of decades ago when Teddy conflict a great mayor of Jerusalem and nineties was besieged one day in his office by religious leaders they were arguing access to the holy sites and the squad went on and on and colic listen and listen to me finally said gentleman spare me and I will fix your sewers have what mayors do they fix sewers they get the trains running there isn't a left or right way of doing Morse Johnson calls himself an anarchist Tory candidates who rides to work on a bike but the same time he's in some ways a conservative Bloomberg in New York was a Democrat then he was a Republican finally he was an independent said the party label just gets in the whale ish cough twenty years Mayor in Moscow though he helped found the party united party with Putin in fact refused to be defined by the party so mayors are pragmatist and problem solvers the the the When we think that in all the challenges the world like things like climate change right what is of its cities or specifically mayors can do that that countries can well just let me do a tiny piece of political theory nation states made a promise to the social contract to their citizens which was rooted in their sovereignty they said If you obey us we elect this ensemble you have to obey the laws of the sovereign nation we will guarantee your life your liberty your state property today we would call your sustainability but in the last fifty or sixty years States can no fulfill the sovereign promise that we will take care of you we our citizens and that's where cities have increasingly said if you can't and won't then we have to and that's why in particular in these urgent area of climate change cities more than eighty or ninety percent of which are on water cities have the responsibility to say someone's gotta deal with climate change because our citizens and our cities are going to be the first to go underwater and there are all kinds of ways in which city is working one by one but better when they collaborate can address climate change eighty percent of carbon emissions come from cities which means fifties our position to fall off the carbon problem or most of it whether or not the states of which their part make agreements with one another and they are doing it Los ANGELES cleaned up that sport which was forty percent of carbon emissions new York has a program to upgrade its old buildings make them better insulated in the winter to not leak energy in the summer that's having an impact Bogota introduced a transportation system that saved energy that allowed surface buses to run an effect like subways express buses with core doors there Singapore as it developed its high rise is remarkable public housing also developed an island of parks if you go there you'll see how much of his Greenland and Parkland cities are sharing what they do and they are making a difference by shared best practices bike shares many of you heard of it started twenty thirty years ago in Latin America now it's in hundreds of cities pedestrian zones congestion fees emission limits in cities like California cities have lots and lots that cities can do even when opaque stubborn nations refuse to act when the Barber of a book laying out an idea of how cities around the world can band together to solve really big problems it's called If mayors ruled the world and in that book he lays out this proposal an actual organization a global parliament a gathering of mayors from all of the world when mayor's visit one another you have in effect a small working group solving problems not a ritualistic meeting of different geology is which leads to the idea of a global parliament of mayors with cities beginning to say we will do what sovereign nations can't but how would a parliament of Mayer's work well I have a template I have a plan that suggests how that might happen but obviously that will be something that mayors themselves will have to deal with in next year when the inaugural Parliament of mayors actually takes place one of the first questions we the governor's question what is absolutely indispensable to start with though is the political will of cities and their citizens to say it is our time now it is our time to ask these questions and provide answers and we can only do that when we work together the road to global democracy doesn't run through states runs through cities we can create a global parliament of mayors it's in my conception of the coming world but it's also on the table in city halls in Seoul Korea in Amsterdam in Hamburg and New York mayors are considering that idea of how you can actually constitute a global parliament of mayors and I love that idea because a parliament of mayors is a parliament of citizens in a parliament of citizens is a parliament of us thank you so much my fellow citizens that's Benjamin Barber by the way the first meeting of the global parliament of mayors is scheduled for two thousand and sixteen you can see Benjamin's entire talk at Ted com So speaking of mayors a couple weeks ago the mayor of Atlanta was having a pretty busy morning this morning a man with a Brigadier general from the Army Corps of Engineers in the one with the local head of the FBI regarding terrorism it added a video for a woman who is turning eighty years old for America seem read the items on this To Do list may seem really different but they're actually have the same all of them deal with the tapestry of the city and I guarantee you that video that did from Aaron White's mom is important is the briefing that our chaps numbers this morning the the scene read actually came to this realization back in two thousand I was running for mayor at the time he was losing pretty badly actually so he started to knock on a lot of doors married picks up the story from that stage one hot day in July though I was in a neighborhood in Atlanta car mechanics though so I knocked on this door had my spiel down hello has seen read I'm a Georgia state senator and I'd like to be your mayor met talk to you about the campaign in this wonderful old warm face looked at me through a door that had steel bars on it she's sick all over her baby talked him into me why you think you should be America's she says can sing but it's okay the end I said Atlanta is the cradle of the civil rights movement we have the third largest concentration of Fortune five hundred businesses in the busiest passenger airport in the world we have wonderful restaurants and I believe that I can make the city stronger she looked at me as if I was a Martian she grabbed my hand has become a baby that I know she took me out her door and she pointed out a pool across the way in in that poll were about four to five young boys and they were literally shooting dice in the pool they should have been filled with water if you look at last you saw a Ghazi bowl use to me used by people for picnics that was full of guys play music that was way too loud with gang graffiti on the casinos she said That's the land of the time though baby she said let me tell you something though I'm a pretty good cook myself wanna go to the restaurant you talking about if I was going go to restaurants add need to take the bus now I'll really feel safe going out at night right now she said that airport if you always talking about baby I'll fly you have a nice day and in that steel door hit them and I was like fifteen minutes I don't even think I got the vote and I really don't think he liked me but changed that day because what I understood from that visit with Miss Davis was that until you see a city how people who were most in need of help see it you're never going to reach and I was never the same the Yemeni it's it's like you were you were thinking about Atlanta Formica thirty thousand foot vantage point they look a lot of politicians do and then she pulled you back down made you see the city like she sees it from the point of view her neighborhood you're exactly right and what I is what you really have to do when you're trying to lead people this find out what they care about and would kneel they want Mo and so I said that if I ever got elected mayor I was going back to Oakland City Park and I was going to fix it but I think that um if you don't take care of the basics and do them very well make sure that the finances of the SEO make sure that provide police services pick up trash fix potholes that you'll never be able to do anything aspirational and once you take on those issues and solve than the public will then to spend resources on things that you care about the sharing from Benjamin Barber about how mayors have this huge advantage over national politicians would we think it is it allows mayors to get things done um speed in closeness to the public if you compare contrast that to the way that states move we won't even have a conversation about the way that the national government moles and so in Atlanta all you need to do to shift the direction of something is have my support and the support of eight members of the Atlanta City Council that's it and so if you spread that across the fifty largest metro is in the US are actually impacting about seventy percent of the population and about seventy five percent of GDP wow and so as government's resources are more and more strained cities are finding creative ways to take on challenges and meet needs and so that's why I think they're so exciting and you're just another like a resident of the city I mean you are kind of governing the people who are your neighbors I don't think there's any question about it I think that cities are or where you can see your marriage of her shoe store and have an actual conversation about a real problem and have been on the Hershey store and had someone tell a series of vacant houses and rather than going home driven by the houses that they pointed out an ordered coat of force meant to that location and tell you when people come in my office and were able to resolve their challenger moved the needle of May make them feel better it is intensely personal and direct the folks cities are where Hope me Fish Creek if you don't want to spend your whole life waiting to change something happen to believe that you are to be in cities you pick an issue we're dealing with those issues head on its cities and I didn't forget about Ms Davis and mechanics bill we opened up every single recreation center in the city of Atlanta when two thirds of them had been shot when I took office citizens were homey street to awe so because of the strength of the city's finances we were able to bring back something called the Atlanta senior citizens ball and we have thousands of wonderful seniors who put on their best clothing wonderful gowns and my mother made me change the name from the senior citizens ball to the Forever Young Bob because she didn't like being called but about two years ago you all actually Psalm is David's coming in to the ball in the lovely gown and I actually walked up to her and she gave me a hug she said Hey baby don't she said You doing Okay we're doing okay you fill that hole I looked at her soaked up a bit watched her walk all I wonder did she know that moment on her porch the so many months ago she helped to make a mayor and that she change to sit in the hope she knows now thank you uh seen read he's the mayor of Atlanta Georgia you can see his full talk at Ted dot com The
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