Skip to main content

For the future of cities, all roads lead to Asia

The SmarterCities Shanghai 2010 Forum

For its largest SmarterCities forum yet, IBM hosted 800 leaders from around the world in Shanghai, China, June 2 and 3. As a group, these mayors and vice-mayors; national, city and regional officials; CEOs from 22 industries; and urban experts from academia represented approximately 180 cities from 38 countries across Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas.

Forecasts of the next decade say that 97 of the 100 fastest growing cities in the world will be in growth markets. Eight are in China; 11 are in India.  Asian cities are expected to add another 1.1 billion residents by 2030, beyond what they had in 2005. That's the equivalent of another India--itself the world's second-most populated country already--in the next 20 years.

Why Shanghai? For one thing, the city is emerging as the prototypical global city of the 21st century. In the last two decades, it has transformed itself into the industrial, financial and commercial center of China.

Shanghai also embodies a deliberate national effort to accelerate modernization, with advances in modern physical infrastructure and citizen services. It also reflects the broader competitive reality of a globally integrating economy, with a local growth and future progress determined by five main factors:

  1. the city's business environment
  2. its policy environment
  3. the skills and knowledge base
  4. its attractiveness to investment
  5. an ability to attract and nurture talent

That last factor—attracting and nurturing talent—can't be overemphasized. Not only does the latest IBM Global CEO Study show that creativity is the new competitive advantage, another new report from the IBM Institute for Business Value says that the local climate for available job opportunities and the quality of a place—natural amenities, cultural options and a city's environmental health—can play as big or bigger a role on where people choose to work than potential earnings. As the report says: "Quality of life and the attractiveness of a city are profoundly influenced by the core systems of a city: transport, government services and education, public safety and health."

In addition to building on such core services as energy, water, environmental sustainability, urban planning and architecture, the report finds four high-impact areas where most cities need to focus:

  1. Reduce congestion in transport systems
  2. Improve public safety by reducing crime and emergency response time
  3. Streamline and tailor services for the citizen, including a heavy emphasis on education and training
  4. Enable appropriate access to healthcare data for better quality of care, early disease detection and prevention.

To learn more about how cities can optimize their systems for a talent-based economy, read the IBM Institute for Business Value Report "Smarter cities for smarter growth."

Smarter Cities Shanghai from SmarterPlanet on Flickr

Welcome to TheSmarterCity. Not a vision of tomorrow, but a vision of today. A collection of smart ideas from all over the world, all in one place.

In panel discussions and during breakout sessions, participants in the Shanghai SmarterCities forum tackled specific industry and government areas for making the world's cities smarter:

You can read more about the event, and give your own thoughts on building smarter cities, by visiting the Smarter Planet blog.

Video not available.

Video not available.