As the UN considers the prospect that by 2050 over 70% of the global population will be working and living in cities, and as policy developers continue to invest in cities to stimulate their economies, the New-York-based Intelligent Community Forum announces its Rural Imperative – a focus on developing smarter rural communities to offset the strains of unbalanced and unsustainable mega-cities.
The economic and creative power of cities cannot be denied but inequalities in digital infrastructure provision are beginning to drive rural communities towards radical moves to build a more-balanced economy.
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Those who doubted the findings in 2009 of Wilkinson and Pickett’s ‘The Spirit Level’ may care to revisit the subject of equality in the light of the recent report from Boston Consulting Group.
In BCG’s ‘Sustainable Economic Development Assessment’ we have new methodologies and data for assessing the quality of GDP growth – the extent to which wealth is converted into well-being.
It turns out that countries with high rates of growth are not necessarily able to convert that into societal development whereas other less-GDP-impressive countries seem to have far better mechanisms for raising living standards.
Why should this matter when we seem to have little or no growth? This study arrives at a time when people are drawing lessons from recessionary times and, in facing up to the creative disruptions of the digital economy, are more than ever beginning to appreciate the real role of infrastructure in enabling both wealth and wellbeing.
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As a follow-up to the NextGen 12 session ‘The rise of the Intelligent City’, our Sunday Breakfast review this week looks at the latest ICF publication – Seizing Our Destiny’.
This slim volume profiles 7 cities and considers how they have sought to adapt to the challenges of the digital economy. Instead of drifting with the tide of national economies, these places, their people, their enterprises and institutions, are ‘seizing their destinies’ – finding ways to create local prosperity and solve local social challenges.
This movement towards identifying local initiatives as the key to wider economic revitalisation stands in stark contrast to conventional market sector analysis.
Cities may of course be deserving of special funding to alleviate complex societal and economic challenges (and there are more votes in cities) but all communities – urban or rural – should take note of the need to make a start on adaptation to the digital economy.
Resolving their local ‘digital deficit’ is just a start – it needs several supporting actions – but it is the most obvious platform for rebalancing and revitalising the economy.
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UPDATE: (23:00 EST 21 October 2012) ICF names Smart21 for 2013.
Our editorial streams in the quarter April-June 2012 were dominated by coverage of the UN Sustainability Summit, (Rio+20) with considerable input from ‘Groupe Intellex Associate’ Marit Hendriks in Rio de Janeiro filming for NextGen TV.
Surprise hits, however, were the editorials on the ‘digital’ economy, New Economic Models and, from the archive, a heart-felt sermon on the iniquities of call centres, ‘ Please hold during the silence’.
The Quarterly Review includes references, acknowledgement, a chronological listing and a full alphabetical index of topics and people featured in the last 3 months.
In this final editorial from the UN Sustainability Summit in Rio we consider the disappointments felt by many participants but also celebrate the digital connectivity that has taken the messages from this event to all corners of the world.
In Marit Hendrik’s compilation of voices from Rio we hear from the UN leadership, from those concerned with their own country’s leadership deficit in environmental matters and those who really understand the need to re-engage with a digitally-empowered and well-connected next generation.
Full story here with video from Marit Hendriks for NextGen TV.
Ria in Spanish is the feminine of Rio and it seems only appropriate for our 4th report from Rio+20 to acknowledge the work of women around the world.
On a day when London and Brussels both experienced the power of dignified but determined voices we turn our Rio+20 spotlight on Tanya, Doris and Brittany – three voices with messages that lift us out of politics, resolutions and declarations and into the real world of getting on with finding solutions to everyday environmental problems.
In the rain forests of the Amazon or remote valleys in Switzerland or from the distant shores of New Zealand we feature three great examples of digital empowerment.
Politicians and the media may think the Rio+20 sustainability text is ‘insipid’ but life goes on and the present powers will be held to account by the next generation.
Full story here with videos by Marit Hendriks for NextGenTV.
From an aerial view of the beach in Rio de Janeiro to Argyll & Bute in the Scottish Highlands by way of Brighton & Hove (and Nick Clegg, Aung San Suu Kyi, the EU delegation led by Denmark, ‘the hairy cornflake’ and Ellen MacArthur) we bring you our second report from the UN’s Sustainability Summit and a message about ‘the problem solving capabilities of networks‘.
All that plus Paragraph 65 of the Rio+20 draft final text that world leaders are expected to affirm this week.
Full story here with additional reporting from Marit Hendriks in Rio for NextGen TV.
As thousands of delegates throng the conference halls of the UN Rio+20 Summit and work late into the night to try and reach a sustainable consensus, voices of reason are highlighting the national and global deficits in digital infrastructure.
In this first of our reports from Rio we bring together thoughts from the European Commission, the ITU, Boston Consulting Group, BT and the guy from Aberdeenshire who just got on with it and founded Mashable.com . Additional reporting from Marit Hendriks of NextGenTV.
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As Rio+20 gets underway and the mainstream media find this gathering of world leaders creeping into the news agenda, we give some time to considering how they will find consensus around fundamental issues for future sustainability.
The leaders will not be short of advice. Lobbyists from every quarter of the globe and every sector of society are geared up for for a field day and honing their green credentials.
As great minds attempt to focus down on key global policy issues, the question that we hope the world leaders will ask of all those earnest supplicants is ‘Why are you telling me this?‘
And, when they jet back home to more mundane matters we hope that it will be a question they keep asking wherever and whenever they hear continuing excuses for the ‘digital deficit’ that blights the infrastructure that their citizens and venture leaders need for a return to economic health.
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(Rio+20 will be reported for Groupe Intellex and NextGenTV by Marit Hendriks)
In our strongest editorial to date on the so-called Digital Economy we assert that, in the same way that people say ‘the real economy’ without explaining what an un-real economy might be, there is no non-digital economy of any great substance.
Across every sector of the economy the qualifier ‘digital’ is redundant. The digital infrastructure is as important to sustainable green policies for energy and transport as it is for Finance, Health and Manufacturing. Fixing the ‘digital deficit’ is the first step towards economic recovery.
We suggest that to track the nation’s digital maturity we need to measure four things: Fitness for Purpose, Balance, Hassle and Disruption.
Full story here.
See also previous editorial: Finding Nemode