Report: Cities Need to Be “Agile” to Capture Opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Published
19 Sep 2018
2018
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Yann Zopf, Public Engagement, World Economic Forum, Tel.: +41 79 204 16 10; yzo@weforum.org

· Agility is key for cities to harness new opportunities and address new challenges created by rapidly changing technology, says new World Economic Forum white paper

· The white paper proposes metrics to capture the agility of cities in eight areas: buildings, land, energy, mobility, IT, security, education and governance

· Examples from around the world, gathered by the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Cities and Urbanization, illustrate what agility looks like in practice

· To view the white paper please click here

Tianjin, People’s Republic of China, 19 September 2018 – The world is urbanizing and the Fourth Industrial Revolution is transforming life at an unprecedented rate. Cities must be “agile” – able to move quickly and easily – to enable their citizens to thrive. A new World Economic Forum report, Agile Cities: Preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, explains the concept of agility and introduces guidelines for measuring agility in key areas of city life.

From the diverse experience of the Forum’s Global Future Council on Cities and Urbanization, the report proposes how to assess physical, digital and environmental aspects of agility in eight categories: buildings, land, energy, mobility, IT, security, education and governance.

Alice Charles, Cities leads at the World Economic Forum, said: “The report is meant to provide a starting point for conversations on how city authorities can better prepare for the changes of the Fourth Industrial Revolution while improving urban liveability for citizens. Many cities are already blazing a trail in ways others could emulate.”

The report draws examples of agility from cities around the world, including:

· “Enterprise Districts” in Singapore where zoning is more flexible to allow academia and business to share collaborative spaces and encourage synergy among businesses in different sectors

· An app for integrated mobility in Quito, Ecuador, which will make it easy for users to plan and pay for a single journey, and that uses different modes of transport such as metro, bus, private taxi and bike hire

· Consolidation of separate municipal IT infrastructures in Dubai, with shared services now covering over 90% of employees and 95% of budgets, which has considerably reduced emissions from ICT equipment

· An app in Moscow through which the city government seeks residents’ feedback on urban development issues before making decisions, with over 1.5 million Muscovites already registered.

In an agile city, the government embraces ongoing transformation; planners efficiently rezone land for temporary uses; buildings serve a diverse mix of functions; policing and prevention strategies are smart and data-driven; agencies share and seamlessly redeploy their IT assets; interoperable transport systems are optimized by real-time information; energy networks maximize use of renewables while ensuring secure supply; and the education system quickly adapts to reflect the economy's changing needs.

The Global Future Council on Cities and Urbanization’s Co-Chair, Abha Joshi Ghani, Senior Adviser on Infrastructure, Public-Private Partnerships and Guarantees, World Bank, said: “Already 54% of the world’s population is urban, and it’ll be over two-thirds by 2050. Cities are engines of economic growth and absolutely central to achieving global aspirations such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Agreement on Climate Change.”

Co-Chair Carlo Ratti, Director of SENSEable City Lab at MIT, added: “We know agility is important for cities, but what does it really mean? This report introduces a framework for assessing it, and shares many examples of new and emerging initiatives which can potentially be adapted by other cities.”

The World Economic Forum’s 12th Annual Meeting of the New Champions is taking place on 18-20 September in Tianjin, People’s Republic of China. Convening under the theme, Shaping Innovative Societies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, more than 2,000 business leaders, policy-makers and experts from over 80 countries will participate and explore more than 200 sessions over the three days of the meeting.

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All opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Economic Forum Blog is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around the key topics that shape global, regional and industry agendas.