E-Polis: The City of the Future”, the XIII° edition of Eastwest Forum, a high-level, international conference organized yearly by the European geopolitical magazine Eastwest. Rome, 5 October 2018, LUISS University.

Prof. Enrico Giovannini (member of Eastwest Steering Committee) is the Programme Director and will also moderate the discussion.

This year’s Eastwest forum aims to provide a positive contribution to the European and international debate surrounding the “E-Polis”, the “City of the Future”.

Urban conglomerations are often suitable environments for innovation and cutting-edge living solutions. Large metropolitan cities are very much alike, they have similar problems and solutions even when the nations they are part of have different political positions.

Governors, sociologists, philosophers, architects, urban planners, geographers will explore and discuss the potential of a global awareness within the world’s metropolitan network and will present differing views and scenarios on how urban existence can develop in the coming decades.

The debate will consist in 3 panels of approximately one hour and a half each, similar to a “talk show” format:

The City of the Future: energy, innovation, environment.

By 2050, 75% of the global population is expected to live in cities. According to World Bank figures more than 54% of the world’s population lives in cities today, use two-thirds of the energy produced, create 80% of GDP and generate 70% of all greenhouse gases. Evolved City models are of enormous importance for the planet. The greatest resource in shaping these new cities is the intelligence generated by the collaboration of all inhabitants. Current technologies enable material infrastructure and human capital to communicate, generating a type of collective intelligence. Major urban centres thus become Smart Cities, places where citizens are called on in some way to actively participate in a process that structurally improves the quality of life within the society.

Metropolitan security in an unsafe world.

In Nairobi some young businessmen have developed an app called “Usalama” that provides an immediate link to the police, road assistance and ambulances. By shaking your mobile phone, you send a help request. With the phone’s camera and GPS, users can then send information to the various emergency units. In a few months, this grassroots platform has become a reference point for emergency services in Kenya, much like the 112 or 911 phone numbers, which took decades to develop in the EU and the US respectively. Technology reduces the imbalance between advanced and underdeveloped economies creating the new “leapfrogging” phenomenon well described by Carlo Ratti: “Most African countries have moved directly towards wireless connections without first installing cable ones. As a result, mobile phones are being used in ingenious ways, more sophisticated than in Europe or the Unites States.”

In Seoul, from a single integrated control centre called the Transport Operation & Information Service (TOPIS), a team of operators monitors street traffic, the timeline of underground and public transport, taxi availability, parking lot occupancy, the weather conditions and critical situations arising from accidents or operations by the fire brigade or the police. Drawing on data from social networks and sensors, TOPIS is also able to anticipate problems: it can relieve congestion in public transport by getting more buses on the roads, verify the status of the infrastructure and schedule maintenance operations and warn the traffic police where they might be needed most to avoid traffic jams. TOPIS essentially guarantees smooth travel for the 10 million inhabitants of Seoul.

In Santander, a network of over 6000 sensors collects information on the quality of the air and pollution, checks the status of rubbish bins, monitors the routes travelled by a fleet of street sweepers, and all this data is made available to private citizens and companies that want to develop apps to make waste disposal more efficient or even improve the awareness of citizens and tourists on the importance of trash separation in the appropriate recyclable categories.

Running a city: multilayered governance in a global world.

Globalization, urbanization, climate change, cities are under attack: cyber attacks, natural disasters, economic or social upheavals. Cities face acute stresses, such as poverty, endemic crime and violence, or failing infrastructure. How to develop an opportunity from a risk is the starting point of the Rockfeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities project: resilience is the art of adapting to changes thus transforming uncertainties into opportuinites and risks into innovations to make cities better places, not just in emergency times but every single day.

On the day after President Trump announced that he would pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement on climate, Michael Bloomberg wrote: “It is important for the world to understand that the fate of America’s Paris climate pledge does not lie with Congress or the White House. The US is already halfway to our goal of a 26% reduction in emissions by 2025 and cities, businesses and citizens, together with the market, were responsible for it. There is little that Washington can do to stop them. Consider cities, which are home to the majority of people for the first time in history: mayors understand that the same steps that can be taken to fight climate change also make cities better places to live and therefore places where businesses want to invest. For a long time, politicians and environmentalists framed climate change as a single massive problem that could only be solved by national governments and international treaties. In fact, it’s a series of challenges, each of which has a solution that can make us healthier and wealthier. And cities, businesses and citizens can play the leading role in bringing those solutions to life. And what works in one city often works in others. All of us can help to change the conversation around climate change in our homes, offices and communities, online and face-to-face. Together, we can improve millions of lives today, and build a stronger future for our planet.”


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