"When you look at a city, it's like reading the hopes, aspirations and pride of everyone who built it." -- Architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen
I've had the good fortune to visit a garden variety of great cities around this globe during my employ at IBM, and in fact I write this particular post firmly ensconced down the street from the British Library in London on a beautiful early summer morning.
During my travels, I get to see, and experience, the best and the worst of the world's cities, in terms of infrastructure, transport, and the like.
I've sat in some heavy-duty traffic in places ranging from Paris, Seoul, and Dublin, as well as Los Angeles, Houston, and my own Austin.
I've ridden some of the great trains of the world, particularly in Europe (and was shocked and saddened to hear of last night's tragedy on the Washington, D.C. Metro.)
For the first time in history, 2007 saw the majority of the world's population living in cities -- some 3.3 billion people.
By 2050, city dwellers are expected to make up 70 percent of the Earth's total population: 6.4 billion.
Cities are small (and sometimes not-so-small) microcosms of the major challenges and opportunities facing our planet, only intensified and accelerated.
It is in the city where all man-made systems come together and interact with one another: government services, transportation, public safety, healthcare, education, and energy and utilities.
If we can collectively increase the efficiency and sustainability of all those systems, we have the opportunity to create the most livable environment for the greatest number of people.
With that as backdrop, today and tomorrow, in Berlin, Germany, IBM CEO Sam Palmisano and 250+ senior public leaders and select influencers from around the globe will be gathering to explore and discuss ways to rethink current approaches to urban issues.
In Berlin, IBM is also inaugurating the Smarter Cities program, intended to help city leaders around the world build smarter infrastructures.
This will include examining how cities are already using smart solutions to improve city life, with behind-the-scenes accounts of such solutions from the city leaders themselves.
Keep an eye on the Smarter Planet site to follow the dialogue, to learn more about this program, and to find out how you can get involved in making your little corner of world a better and smarter place.
Now if you'll excuse me, here in London I have a train to catch.