THE FUTURE OF CITIES


This is the sound of a garbage truck in Taipei. A subway in Seoul. 3:30 in Santiago. Auckland Singapore Copenhagen Los Angeles Sydney London Nairobi Venice Shenzhen Kuwait City Mumbai And Songdo. That’s in South Korea. Awfully quiet… I ended up in here because I was looking for
the City of Tomorrow. Songdo is the largest private real-estate
development in history. It’s a master-planned and entirely state of the art smart city.
While Songdo doesn’t look like that future, some believe it’s the future we need. It’s only impossible until someone does it. It’s also where they shot…. Just 25 years ago PSY would have been dancing
on THIS. Here are some other cities built on water. There is a race to build a functioning workable city and to replicate that model all over
the world. China alone would require 500 Songdos to sustain
their growing population. So how did we get here, with an entire industry
racing to build smart cities from scratch? Technology is the answer, but what is the
question? Good question Carlo. Are we just building cities of the future so we can have cities of the future?
Let’s take a step back. When cinema was born only 14% of the world’s
population lived in cities. Right now we’re at 54%.
And this is where we’re headed. Cities today are growing at a pace that none
of us have ever understood. Now, that’s a huge deal when you think about
it, because the resources that built the megacities of the 20th century aren’t sustainable today. We do damage to nature, and we do less damage to nature when we occupy less of it. We’re not gonna make our planet grow and thrive by continuing to sprawl out. They’re basically saying that when density is done right, it’s the best if not the
only solution to our growing climate crisis. So is future urbanization going to be a good
thing? Or a bad thing? If you care about people, this is the defining
question of our time. The Nantucket Project asked me to explore
that question, because that’s what they do, explore! So I read books, talked to experts, travelled around the world, asked the internet for help
and got responses from people in all of these cities This is Lucas, we met on Youtube. They’d show me around, and when I couldn’t
visit in person they’d send me footage. The best thing about cities and the internet
is they connect people. So this movie is about exploring what an even more connected urban
future could look like. Mayor Cavanagh: There is a renaissance in
the city and I’m honored to be a participant in the Detroit story. That was Mayor Jerome Cavanagh, making a bid for the 1968 Olympics. 50 years later, population still in decline, Detroit went bankrupt. In 2014 we had the water shutoffs in Detroit. Thousands of homes lost water due to shutoffs. And I wanted to focus on helping resolve that so I created an application called City Water
that’s gonna give Detroit residents their water usage in real time. That might sound boring compared to a drone delivering your pizza but let’s remember
that cities only reached their full potential when they became healthier places to live. At the start of the 20th century America’s cities were spending as much on water as the
federal government was spending on everything except for the post office and the army. We’ve come a long way to an exciting area! This is Abess. He saw my video announcing
the project and wanted to make sure his city made the cut. I was born here, and I’m really passionate about bringing the city back to the point
it was. We’re no Silicon Valley but we’re tryin’ to become a city that brings tools
and brings solutions and brings jobs back. Detroit is his company’s first client.
That means they’re using data to prevent this kind of thing. And the citizens say, “I don’t need to have a smart city, but whatever new innovation
comes, if it helps me, I’m going to embrace it.” And it’s really encouraging just the fact that the city is willing to do a project like
this and we’re hoping to launch that in January of 2017 and take that to other cities
across the country. Because cities don’t inherently compete
with each other, there’s a huge opportunity to collaborate with other cities. We could take the best practices in sustainable urbanization and spread them around the world
as quickly as possible. That is the promise of the 21st century of urbanization. It’s easy to imagine adopting Abess’s app in Santiago and Los Angeles is a city
that has never taken water for granted. Well what can we do the rest of the city needs
drinking water. Water again.. We use water from 1400 miles away. That is transported long distances using over 19%
of our entire energy budget for the state of California. David uses solar power to turn air into clean water which he gives away for free to his
city or sometimes turns into food. Awesome! Every building ideally can make its own water and be water self-reliant. In the same way future cities won’t need telephone lines, maybe they also won’t need
water pipes. You put water into a bottle it becomes the
bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Be water my friend..like that
you see? I see, I get the idea. When people are innovating and developing solutions to address our most fundamental
needs, a city will thrive. What kind of cities do we want? How do we
want to interact as people in cities, because cities aren’t buildings, they’re people. Part of the job of urban success means to attract and produce skilled people and to
retain skilled talent. This goes together in a city – opportunity
and solving problems as they arise, innovating. Detroit is innovating right now, probably
kinda like the way it was in the 1890s – when over 100 companies were working furiously
to figure out the automobile. That’s also like Silicon Valley in the 60s & 70s, Bangalore
in the 80s, and Shenzhen, where 90% of the world’s drones are manufactured, right now. There’s at least 26% of a technology from Silicon Valley actually comes from Shenzhen. Cities are more complicated than the headlines they make on the other side of the world. 
There’s no YouTube in Shenzhen so nobody saw my video there.
Fortunately George goes to school in Hong Kong where saw the movie and emailed me.
Then he filmed Shenzhen when he went home on the weekend.
Thanks George! Like Songdo, Shenzhen was not a city 25 years
ago and like many other cities, they built giant American-style highways. Currently the US has policies that we’re using general tax revenues to fund highways.
We’re basically subsidizing people to drive. And that’s why it’s cheaper to drive to
the grocery store to buy blueberries from 4000 miles away than it is to walk over to
the farmer’s market and buy local. Can you tell I’m eating blueberries? You can tell you’re eating what you got. Okay, cool. Our subsidies and policies encourage bad habits but the false message we send globally is
that big highways solve problems. Transportation’s been a very sleepy field
for 50 years. You’re starting to see people rethink what our streets are about and who
they’re for. Now cities are spending money getting rid
of highways, confirming that more transportation choices and less parking are often the best
ways to fight traffic and congestion. This used to be a motorway and now it’s
a public space. So you got green space, shade, clean water,
naturally cooler temperature in the area. And sure enough, traffic got better. 
Seoul is turning another highway into a path for people.
Paris is going full-pedestrian along the Seine. In Singapore, where they just debuted a self-driving
taxi, they’re also building a city with no cars. Same thing in:
Alexander Göke: “Mannheim, Germany!” Which ironically is where this guy invented
the first car. The future of our cities is about people,
that really does mean focusing on public transportation and providing choices for how people get around. 
The number one factor that determines whether someone can escape poverty. You’d think
it would be like crime rates or school–it’s commute time. When walking, cycling, and public transportation are the fastest ways to move, nobody feels
like a second class citizen for not owning a car That’s going to be the secret sauce for cities in the 21st century. Check out all these metro cards! That last one is from Singapore, where I didn’t
meet a single person who owns a car. It’s hard to beat the Singaporeans. In Singapore a Toyota Corolla costs 140 grand and the government only lets you lease it
for 10 years. The fact that they embraced having something
that actually charges people for the social cost of their driving is a policy that basically
all crowded cities should be embracing. In Santiago you can get around in this electric
rickshaw for free. The design came from China. Let’s go back there. Hi Oscar! I actually never went to Shenzhen. Nice meeting you over the internet! George and Ina shot the interview and I tuned
in on Skype Remember those giant American style highways? That’s what Shenzhen had in mind when they hired Vicky. You know we proposed to them a very different idea. Instead of increasing the highway we
reduce it and then we prepared for a city where people can actually use more high speed
self driving car. People can actually use drone to deliver daily groceries. Hiding cars in tunnels points towards a city made for people
Maybe we can try this in Los Angeles Considering how quickly China went from THIS
to THAT, and from THAT to THIS, it’s not surprising this project is happening in Shenzhen. The excitement of a happening place which
attracts people you have to have a degree of openness and not too much regulation. Shenzhen spends more time making things than hiring patent lawyers to protect them. In the West it’s called theft, out here it’s called sharing. And if you want to know more about that, you should watch my friend Jim’s documentary. The point is, it’s exciting to live in a city where people are making things. That’s why I moved to New York, because I was drawn to all these people who were doing more with
less. The most elusive solutions often spring from
unlikely places. Geothermal energy power plant! This is a fog catcher and it can get up to 500 liters of water a day. If you can do something good with low budget resources, you can scale up very rapidly. Sometimes those solutions can end up shaping a city’s identity. In Lagos – which is where this music is from by the way they call it KANJU! The word literally means like hustling. Trying to reimagine these challenges in Africa as
opportunities to innovate is the spirit of kanju. Flooding is an issue in Makoko, so they built a school that floats by using cheap and available
materials. This woman turns discarded plastic into bricks
in Karachi. In Nairobi nobody uses credit cards or cash – all you need is a phone. In
Manila they turn water bottles into solar light bulbs. And the people of India have always made more out of less. The inexpensive clay fridge
that requires no electricity, or their hyper-efficient, massive homemade meal delivery system could
never have been conceived by some well-heeled think tank.
Dr. Jockin has lived in the slums for 50 years, built a million houses and toilets, been nominated
for a Nobel Peace Prize, and brought his organization, Slum Dwellers International, to 43 different
countries. We don’t need you to come and sit on my
head and dance. I know how to write my song, it is my dance, my song, I will play it. He’s basically saying – “We got this. If you want to help, channel your support
through us.” For example here’s this self-run recycling
operation in Jockin’s neighborhood. We all want to be involved in the futures of the
places where we live. You go and see every city in the world, all
has been planned by very very super well known, renowned architect, philosopher, and so on
and so forth. You’ve lost all the sense of hearing from the people. Unfortunately a lot of architects have a sort of a pre-designed approach that they force
into whatever context and culture they get to. And not every city can be like Singapore where 80% of the people live in public housing. So that means you don’t have slums, nor do you leave the city and its residents in
the hands of the private rental sector. Back to Mumbai.  
We tend to disregard places like Dharavi, where Dr. Jockin lives, but it’s a rare
example of a neighborhood solving its own housing needs. My friend Matias works to draw attention to what’s actually working in neighborhoods
before attempting to intervene. He compares Mumbai to post war Tokyo. American planners decided to focus on infrastructure development. Everything else was left to people
themselves and that created a gradual growth of a neighborhood. Like Tokyo in the 1950s, it’s your neighbors planning and building your home in Dharavi Up to ninety people can be working on a small site for four weeks and produce a house of
much better quality than affordable housing that the government are developing. And embodying the kind of incremental growth private developers rarely aim for. The places that are self-built, we often see an incredible amount of care, feeling of ownership,
a human scale in terms of what is actually being built.
How do we combine the genius that’s really there in the streets solving its own problem,
then how do we bring in a little bit of outside technology or better public management in
order to upgrade them and to empower their citizens lives more effectively? Post-war Tokyo, unlike Mumbai, had major funding and state of the art infrastructure – and
30 years later it WAS the city of the future. That’s not my kind of place. Go someplace else. I don’t think so Mr. Deckard. Around the same time that Tokyo was booming, Copenhagen was struggling. In the 70’s we had a couple of energy crises. People started to fight for getting better
bicycle infrastructure and the city gradually started developing that mobility system. In many way it was Copenhageners who have wanted to get their city back. Denmark’s capital insists on citizen-driven change. I think part of Copenhagen’s success is that they’ve had a very incremental approach
to the urban development instead of having this giant master-plan, they’ve tested and
tried out different solutions. Low-rise, mixed-use neighborhoods, great public
space, clean water… This new power plant turns waste into clean
energy ….and it’s a ski slope. We don’t think of ourselves only as designers, and architects, we think about ourselves also
as social scientists. The best part is that they still think they
can do better. We have very far to go in actually creating
an urban environment where cars are the last choice for the ordinary citizen. If you buy a car in Denmark, you pay 150% tax. It doesn’t matter if it’s electric. I’m super excited about self-driving cars, but without good planning and policy we might
just end up being more comfortable sitting in traffic jams.. For a collection of microprocessors you’re awfully touchy. Of course it’s possible to make any city around the world a good bicycle city. And the more we get public transit the more room they’ll be for one of the very best
kinds…bicycles! You could start with getting more people mobilized
on foot and on bicycle and it’s so cheap to be sweet to people than it is to actually
having to support these heavy transport systems. A person on a bike puts 1/65th
It puts 1/65,000 thousandsth, wait 1/65,000th.. A person on a bike puts a fraction of the
wear and tear that the average car puts on the road. And as you’ll remember–roads don’t pay for themselves. Since I started editing this project New York City bike has broken daily ridership records
6 times. And the cool part is you can see all the data
gathered from the program in real time. In the past our streets have really been governed
by anecdotes instead of analysis and so we brought very focused data driven approaches
to analyze the impact of our projects. And so really seeing how we can take technology
and not kind of replace what we’re able to do, but kind of enhance our ability to
interact with our environments. Well then what do you want to do?
I don’t know…something. Whoa! Some think that technology is going to make us more physically isolated. People will stop moving around, they just won’t need to. You basically connect your
brain to the internet and you turn off your senses and the senses comes from the internet
and so you could feel this exact setting, why would you get in a car, why would you
get on a plane? I just couldn’t imagine that and the whole
point of this video was to go to real places and connect with real people, mostly in person. 
I also made this video with these people, and for these people. It’s kind of like
a city, thinking hard about who we’re making them for, and who we’re changing them with
is always a good starting point. Super super tired.. Okay, I’m exhausted, I’m sure you’re exhausted and I barely scratched the surface but that’s what I got. Bye Bye Copenhageners! Bye Singaporeans! Bye Songdonians… Bye Mumbaikars! I’m gonna leave you with this quote from
the great Jane Jacobs: “Lowly, unpurposeful, and random as they may appear, sidewalk contacts are the small change from which a city’s wealth of public life may grow.” Cities remind us how much we benefit from and actually desire to share physical space
with other people, but that doesn’t mean one city can’t learn from another and the
speed at which we’re sharing what we’re learning–the speed at which I connected with
an army of filmmakers all over the world to make this video was the most encouraging part
of the experience. And while every city was exciting–it was
the people in every city that made me optimistic for the future.

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