The Just City

As we add some 2 billion new residents to cities over the next generation, all nations are confronting the challenge of keeping old development models from delaying the transition to modernity. How can we deliver on the promise of cities to promote social advancement? Can cities be prosperous and competitive if increasing proportions of inhabitants are locked into informal settlement, informal employment, and persistent poverty? While some worry about rapid urbanization, the growth of cities is an opportunity to extend economic possibilities, enable access to jobs, gain social inclusion and protect the environment. In this session, we will talk about how we work together to make our cities more just and prosperous-by building pathways from poverty and exclusion to the economic mainstream-connecting urban populations to all of the opportunities for advancement offered by New Cities and offering New Cities ways to deploy all productive resources. Just Cities are a key to a more sustainable future of the planet and to pathway to better lives for hundreds of millions of people.

This workshop, designed in partnership with the Ford Foundation, will explore issues the ways that collaboration across sectors (civic, private, and public) is working to make cities more just, prosperous, equitable and sustainable. Civic leaders, urban designers and entrepreneurs will explore how fairness, opportunity and equity can serve as the defining features of a new era of urbanization. The workshop will look at real-world examples and the ability of new advances in technology, creative design, and practice can transform cities into safe, equitable and prosperous communities. The session will be run in a modified “fishbowl”–a conversational format with no prepared speeches. There will be four chairs on stage for invited speakers and moderator and two empty chairs designated for members of the audience who would like to join the conversation. There will be no question and answer option for the audience–all conversation in the room will take place on stage. Anyone who would like to enter the conversation will make themselves known to a co-moderator who will be circulating in the audience who will, in turn, be invited to join the conversation when the co-moderator determines that the proposed topic is relevant.

Transcript

Background Speaker

Across the ages people have been drawn to cities, centers of power, protection and privilege, but also places of crime, corruption and crushing poverty. Today over half the world’s people live in cities, drawn by the promise of prosperity, but do our swelling metropolitan regions really deliver on that promise? Do they offer opportunity to all? Or does urban development more often than not mean exclusion where the elites control growth, and opportunity, equality and sustainability are merely slogans?

What’s our vision of the ideal city? Is it ambitious and competitive? Or does it promote fairness and equity, lifting the lives of all? We believe it can and should be both. That means building affordable housing, strong schools, transportation that connects people to jobs, green spaces and civic places. It means city and suburbs as one thriving whole, and it means involving people in the decisions and plans that affect them.

Welcome to the future, to a place that fulfills our highest aspirations, to a place we can choose to create! Welcome to the Just City!

George McCarthy

Thank you. We’ve gotten to use that a couple of times and I’m glad we had it produced. I’m George McCarthy from the Ford Foundation and I really want to welcome you to our panel on The Just City. For us social justice is really not a luxury or an option, but it’s actually a prerogative if we’re really going to make cities function in the global economy of the future. It’s clear that the tremendous growth of cities really has to be central to all of our discussion of what cities will look like, how they’ll function in the future, because all of the world’s population growth in the next 30 or 40 years is going to take place in cities.

We’re going to add more than 2 billion people to the cities of the cities of the world in the next 30 years and by 2050 we’re going to have 6 billion people living in cities. Today we have a billion people living in cities and informal settlements and that number could likely grow, it could triple by 2050 if we don’t do something about it now.

For us, we think that it’s just not acceptable for us to think through technocratic solutions that work from the top down and technical solutions that help us to move people around the city, if those solutions don’t involve all the people who live in the cities of the world. As I said, for us social justice and inclusion are no longer luxuries, not things that we can attempt to at our own discretion, but things that we’ll need to attend to if our cities aren’t going to get choked by just growing informal populations that are going to make it impossible to even do business.

I want to introduce our panel and I also want to introduce our mode today, because it’s going to be slightly different. As you’ll notice, there’s an empty chair on the stage and you’ll see why in a second. First of all, let me just give you our panelists in alphabetic order. We have Victor d’Allant, the founder and CEO of Dallant Networks, Tim Campbell, author and chairman of the Urban Age Institute, Leila Janah, founder and CEO of SamaSource, and Mikel Maron, the founder of the Ground Truth Initiative and Map Kibera. Thanks for coming in. Join me in welcoming our panel.

So what’s with this empty seat? The empty seat is the seat that any of you who would like to engage in this conversation will occupy and the way you do that is to make yourself known to our co-moderator who’s wandering around, Jessie Feller, in the audience. She’ll be keeping an eye out, you just have to get her attention and tell her that you want to join the conversation. This is for a couple of reasons. One is because we want to make sure that all the conversation in the room takes place up here, so quit using your BlackBerries and tweeting. No, go ahead and tweet.

Also, because this is thing is being webcast, so that anybody that’s going to be talking would be on the stage and would be appearing in the God knows the living rooms and computers of the thousands of people around the world that are watching this at this very moment.

Alright, so the operative metaphor for this session is bridges, right? We’re thinking about how do we build bridges from where we are to where we need to go. How do we find bridges of opportunity for people who live in informal settlements into the mainstream economy, into mainstream employment and to mainstream habitation? How do we deal with places like Rio de Janeiro where more than 20% of the population lives in 500 or more favellas that are poorly served by the infrastructure, poorly served by the public sector. And how do we make the pivot from where we are now to a place in which everybody is included in the fortunes and the promise of the cities of the future?

With that metaphor of bridges I want to start with Leila. Leila, maybe you can talk a little bit about the kind of bridges that you’re building between informal employment and formal employment for the people who work for SamaSource.

Leila Janah

Sure. Hi! Nice to meet everybody. I’m Leila Janah from SamaSource. “Sama” means “equal” in Sanskrit and it is a non-profit social enterprise I started 4 years ago to connect people living in poverty to work over the internet. We’ve paid and trained about 3,000 people close to $2 million in wages and I’ll just tell you a little bit about one of them, who you see on the screen. This young woman is named Jacqueline. She’s from a slum in Nairobi, Kenya, and she’s in her mid 20’s. Jacqueline is part of a growing number of people who are entering the formal labor market thanks in part to SamaSource.

What many people don’t realize about just employment is that of the 3 billion people around the world that work fully 1 billion of them make less than $2 a day for working fulltime. That’s a problem that we need to address if we’re going to talk about just cities, because many of these people live in cities or aspire to live in cities in the short term.

Jacqueline lives in the slum. She got a job with us about a year and a half ago doing computer-based work. We call it microwork. It’s a model that we invented a couple of years ago that takes big technology projects and breaks them down into small tasks. They can be done by people who are literate, who understand the basics of how to use a computer and don’t require much training. Interestingly, this includes a lot of people in places like Kenya, where 95% of people under 30 can read and write in English, but there’s just a huge lack of formal jobs.

We met Jacqueline at home and if you can switch to the next slide, you’ll see her working at her center. She reports to one of our delivery centers. She actually has graduated out of SamaSource, so this is a photo that was taken of her last year. She now works at a computer repair shop part time.

So what we do is we have a model that we call microwork, but we use that as a method of bridge employment. For many people who are trying to enter the formal labor force from communities like Jacqueline’s there’s really no way for them to get a foot in the door and we think that this bridge employment model, which you see often in the US, with programs like City Year programs that train young people to do internships in formal environments. There’s nothing like that really that exist in the developing world for computer-based work. That’s what we do.

I’m also excited to announce today a $5.3 million partnership with the MasterCard Foundation, which will extend the benefits of our work to 4,000 more people who will be employed in the next 5 years in East Africa through Microwork, and to 10,000 people who will receive online work training.

One last stat there, just to get you excited. Online work is growing at 103% a year, according to the founder of oDesk, which is the world’s leading online work platform. I think it’s an often overlooked chance to employ more people in big cities.

George McCarthy

Leila, a couple of things. One, unlike the internship programs we have here in the United States, you and I are exploiting people to do free work for you, but in fact you’re paying them what’s considered to be a livable wage. Talk a little bit about what that wage does for them and their families.

Leila Janah

Absolutely. It’s transformative. Work is a dry subject, so getting donors to care about work versus, I don’t know, cute puppies and kittens, it’s not as appealing to many people as some of the other charities they support. We have to show them what work really means to someone like Jacqueline. To a young woman in one of the poorest parts of the world, who’s been told by a lot of people around her and by her society that the content of her brain isn’t really worth much, work is everything. A wage is everything.

What we’ve seen is that many of our workers start investing in themselves for the very first time. They start saving for their own education. Jacqueline actually is able to afford university now. She wasn’t able to afford that before working. Now she’s got a part-time job that lets her do some work and lets her go to school at the same time.

We did a study of our workers in India and found that many of them, particularly the women, started doing things that we never anticipated. They started voting, they started advocating for themselves within their families. We have many women who now have fathers-in-law who watch their children so they can work, which is really unheard of in a lot of the places where we operate.

George McCarthy

Certainly it’s a transformative thing. It’s in many way a disruptive thing, because it really disrupts the cultural norms. One of my goals of trying to put this panel together here is to be disruptive, as well, because one of the things you might know, that we’re talking about here, that we haven’t heard a lot about in the rest of the day is people, right? That’s interesting, that we’re talking about cities populated by people, but we’ve been obsessed with technology and cars.

We’re going to be disruptive and hopefully we’ll be more disruptive and part of being disruptive is getting you involved, and so I’m just reminding you again. Raise your hand, make yourself known to Jessie if you want to occupy that other seat and get involved in the conversation, which is going to be a conversation in a minute. We’ll see.

Part of bridging people from where they are, from the margins of society into the mainstream is bridging them through employment, like Leila just talked about, but part of it is actually bridging them in a different way into engagement, involvement in being able to in some ways participate in the decisions that will influence the pathways of their lives for the rest of their lives.

Part of that is getting them put on the map, and part of that is getting their voices empowered to be heard in all of the high technocratic circles that we hear about with planners, and who decide what if a structure needs to be built, what needs to be done in the cities.

Mikel is here, fresh from Cairo, where there actsÖ

Mikel Maron

Kind of fresh.

George McCarthy

What’s that?

Mikel Maron

Kind of fresh.

George McCarthy

He’s not well, yes. He’s actually fresh all the time. He’s a little bit stale from Cairo, but nonetheless, Mikel, tell us a little bit about what you do to kind of put people on the map and get them engaged in their own futures.

Mikel Maron

Thanks. Hi, I’m Mikel. I’m co-founder of Ground Truth and Map Kibera. I come from a very different background, from [inaudible 12:03) open-source software developer and web developer, which is technical but open-source software puts people and communities to the forefront of technology and that’s what in this work I’ve tried to bring to places like Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya. It’s quite a well-known slum, quite a large one, 250,000 people live there in 2.5 sq km.

Three years ago we went to Kibera with what was at that point a blank spot on the map. This is a place with global profile, hundreds of thousands of people, but yet there wasn’t any representation of this place on maps. Officially, in a government map it was considered a forest. This was the image of Kibera that we started with.

We work with a lot of open participatory technologies, particularly OpenStreetMap, which is an open data project with thousands of volunteers worldwide. We also work with Citizen Journalism, participatory video. We went to Kibera not to do the mapping ourselves, because we would do a terrible job of it. The best people to do that work are the people who live in Kibera.

If you get to the next slide, we maybe went back. This gives you an idea of what Kibera actually is like. Thank you. Extremely dense and actually surrounded by quite wealthy areas. You can see there’s a golf course just north of Kibera and quite wealthy estates, which is where a lot of people in Kibera work. They work as security guards, they work in SamaSource, but also a lot of them work in the industrial area of Nairobi.

After just a little training in the exact same technologies that anyone around the world would use to make maps, GPS units, open-source software, web-based collaborative platforms. Next slide. They put themselves on the map, completely. This I think was for them quite transformative. We worked with young people who haven’t had a lot opportunity, very smart, very engaged in their community, who had wanted to go to school, had wanted employment, couldn’t find it.

They were interested to learn something new, but their entire lives they had spent being told, “You’re from Kibera, you’re from the slums.”The change in these people personally and the way that they held themselves engaged with broader societyÖ The technology actually creating this map created so many opportunities for them to connect with technology communities in Nairbi and globally, connect with international organizations which are all for East Africa, headquartered in Nairobi, and bring their personal experience and their understanding of this place to people who previously had been making decisions for them or trying to make decisions for them. No one knows how much money has been invested in this place, but yet you see very little visible results on the ground.

George McCarthy

So, Mikel, one of the things that you did was, of course, establishing enough trust with the people there to get the map made, where they would participate in actually populating that map and talking about what was there and was going on. You also did something else because you were trying to elevate their voices and to make their existence for apparent to others. Tell us a little bit about Citizen Journalism and how that connected to the map.

Mikel Maron

Sure. The first question anyone asks is what is this map good for? One of the first things we came up with was a platform for Citizen Journalism. If you can locate very specifically the context of where things were happening in Kibera, it has the potential for transforming the view of that place. In the media Kibera was known as a place of violence, especially after the post-election violence in Kenya, 2007-2008, and if you go to the next slide you’ll see that Kibera news netÖ One more. That’s OpenStreetMap on a cake. That’s Kibera news network. They’re creating with flip cameras and youtube a Citizen Journalism video. They’re making reports all over Kibera and those are actually located on the map using another piece of open-source software, [inaudible 16:59).

George McCarthy

Who is looking at those?

Mikel Maron

It doesn’t happen overnight, building an audience, so who? Say 10% of Kibera is online, and mostly they’re online for Facebook, so you have to be creative ñ which is a good driver, but you have to be creative with how you connect maps and media to people in a place like Kibera. K&N have done things like community screenings. There are lots of small video halls in Kibera where people watch videos or they watch sports and they’ll get a DVD together and go and they’ll do warm-ups before showing. Or they’re talking to clinics in Kibera and while people are waiting, sometimes for a very long time, they’ll be able to see the stories that they’ve produced about Kibera itself.

George McCarthy

We’ve been talking a lot about information today. We’ve been talking about how data is oil, right? I guess this is the new oil, right? We’ve also been talking about how information drives the smart city, but in some ways information also drives justice in the city, and as Mikel just pointed out, this isn’t something that allows us to elevate the lived experience of people on the ground, put it on a map, but also put it out there, on the web.

For our purposes of the Ford Foundation and other places, we really care about this not because we care about Kibera, but we actually care more about structural issues that lead to exclusion and poverty of large numbers of people in all the cities of the world, including cities in the United States.

Part of what we need to be able to do is build a different kind of bridge, a technological bridge that brings us from what we learn on the ground through places like SamaSource and Map Kibera, to the rest of us in the world, so that we can actually participate in changing the trajectory of cities. Victor, can you tell us a little bit about what you’re trying to do in urb.im.

Victor d’Allant

Yes, so if I can get to my slide. First, I would like to show you my socks. They are my urban socks, because you can see the actual small buildings and windows, and I thought that for this kind of friends, they are very, very appropriate. Second, let me tell you about Latin. I went to the French lycÈe when I was young and I learned Latin, and I learned that “urbim” stands for “city.” What I discovered recently is that urbim or urb.im stands also for “urban impact,” “urban imports” or maybe “urban implosion.”

Let’s meet Irene Karanja. She’s based in Nairobi. Mikel, you know her. She works with SDI ñ Slum Dwellers International and she told me this wonderful story about the fact that she had to travel to Mumbai several times to find a solution to a problem that she was facing in Nairobi. It made us think that there was a need to build bridges. That’s what Mac said at the beginning of this presentation. We need to build bridges because we need to switch from the globalization of competition to the globalization on solidarity.

As you can tell from the pictures I’m showing here, I love to meet people in cafes, because that’s what we do. We have a wonderful job. But let’s think about this. How can we connect people, practitioners, urban planners, policy makers? We’ll work in urban poverty alleviation in one city ñ that’s in Nairobi ñ where their counterparts in Mumbai or Jakarta or Lagos or Rio de Janeiro. The problem is that most of those practitioners are not so good at sharing. They’re very good at implementing, but they don’t necessarily know how to share the information. I have this wonderful quote from Jack Makau, who is also based in Nairobi ñ “You scale up by sharing, but if we are very good at implementing, we’re not so good at sharing. It’s not our core business.”

That’s where we come in. we build a platform, urb.im, which is live, of course, at urb.im, in four languages ñ Spanish, Portuguese, Indonesian and English, of course, to connect, to build bridges and to connect practitioners and urban planners and policy makers working in each of these cities, so that they can learn from their counterparts in other cities. It’s a platform, as I said, in four different languages. It means that we also tweet in Indonesian. I won’t bore you with this because this is quite technical but it’s working. It also shows that we can build editorial bridges between those cities.

Every week we choose one particular topic and our local team would actually bring content information networks related to each of these topics. So this is one example. Here, this is about community mapping, something that, of course, Mikel already described. And we’re taking it to the next level.

So we are doing this on one platform, but we also realized that we could go from one online platform to the next. We have a new assignment and we are building a new platform for the World Bank. This is called Striking Poverty. You don’t know about it. It’s going to go live in the next 48 hours, so now you do know about it.

You will realize that among the guests, features, innovators, we have Erica Hagen, Map Kibera Project, the project being also highlighted on urb.im. This is a cross-pollination of information, data, building bridges between cities, between online communities, between organizations, from the Ford Foundation to the world Bank and to all other organizations, and of course, other, smaller organizations working on underground.

George McCarthy

Victor, you’re also working on a domestic urban platform, as well, right?

Victor d’Allant

Well, we’re working on this. We did some research and we found out that there’s a slight difference between the developing world and the US. In the developing world, well, but not that as much as we think ñ the developing world there is not enough information. We need to give them access as much as we can to the right information at the right place and at the right time. In the US it’s the opposite. As my teenage son would say, TMI ñ Too Much Information.

This is where we come in, with possibly down the road a US platform, talking about Atlanta, Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, Pittsburgh, all the cities that we don’t necessarily think about because here we have taught mostly about San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. And there’s a need for the right information because there’s already too much information and we need to bridge the cities as well.

What we have discovered during the field research in the US is that there is a lack of access to technology, which was very striking. Mikel just mentioned the fact that maybe 10% of Kibera is connected to the internet. I’m not quite sure that the number is significantly higher in some neighborhoods in Detroit. So in a way we are facing two opposite challenges ñ too much information, not enough information, but very low access to technology in some of these communities.

George McCarthy

Thanks, Victor. As you recall at the beginning, I explained to you we have an empty seat up here. If you have questions that are burning don’t think you’ve got to raise your hand and have me calling you and you’re going to ask your questions from the floor. Make yourself known to the errand. Maybe not errands, I’m sorry. To Jessie, okay. Come up and join the conversation. If we end up with a shy audience I’m going to start calling on people like Erin to come up here, so Erin, prepared.

We’ve talked a lot today at this meeting, the meeting of the minds, about smart cities and presumably, if that city is smart, it knows how to learn something, right? Partly, what they can learn is some of the content that guys like Victor make available on urb.im and connecting people or actually doing some work on the ground.

It’s now clear to me that a city is an organism that is intelligent enough to learn. Tim, I wonder if you could tell me a little bit about how the heck does a city learn anything and then how is the learning of cities going to help us to really take all the different kinds of things that are going on in the ground and we talked about here to a different level?

Tim Campbell

Thanks for the opportunity. Maybe some of you know I’ve written this book called “Beyond Smart Cities” about how cities network learn and innovate. It was a question that came into my mind years ago, working in the Royal Bank Institute, when thinking about how people who are working on slum problemsÖ For instance in Nairobi you had to go to Mumbai to get answers. And I began to scratch around to discover that there were literally hundreds and hundreds of cities visint each other to get ideas and policies and the practice and techniques, in particular technologies.

Part of the book I did produced this kind of slide here, which represents for one year the number of cities on the planet that went to visit other cities. The red dots are the cities that answered a survey that I put out ñ 53 cities around the world. The blue dots are the cities where they said they went to visit. If these cities are at all representative of all the cities on the planet their size ñ and the city size, by the way, is a perfect bell-shaped curve in terms of population size ñ then they are somewhere between 1,000 and 10,000 city-to-city visits every year, cities in groups of people who could be from the Chamber of Commerce or community organization groups or green groups or sustainability groups or finance people are going around trading ideas with each other about how to make their city better, how to achieve that justness.

In that way, in a sense, what’s going on in this shadow economy of exchange is a scaling up process. Good ideas are invented almost everywhere. No one city has solved all of its problems, but any city can find something close to a problem it’s likely having by going and visiting another city. This is one of the things that was striking about the city-to-city visits.

You have to take an example of Seattle. Seattle sends 100 business and civic leaders to different city every year. These consist not just of public sector people. In fact, they’re the minority. It’s mostly business and community people. So you get the vice-president of Boeing and the chief legal counsel from Amazon and somebody from Microsoft and somebody from the Fish Market and somebody from the community organizations ñ they all go because after 15 years since 1993, almost 20 years, they go because they know this is part of the city culture, part of keeping it alive, part of keeping it up, holding position and moving ahead visiting other cities. There is one other thing I wanted to talk about, if I may, Mac.

George McCarthy

Before you go there I want to ask you something. Why is there a big hole in the middle of this map called Africa, with very few people moving back and forth and visiting Africa, especially given the fact that we have three people up here that would pretty much represent that Nairobi is a kind of a fountain of social innovation.

Tim Campbell

I couldn’t get cities from Africa as a city to respond to the survey. I had only one and so it’s a hole in the data.

George McCarthy

So the cities that did respond, the ones that are red didn’t choose to go to Africa to learn things. Is thatÖ?

Tim Campbell

None did.

George McCarthy

None did. Interesting.

Tim Campbell

For instance, particularly Shack Dwellers International out of India. The whole ethos and package of knowledge that has grown out of the long experience in working with Shack Dwellers and women has moved as a package to Cape Town, where a similar kind of attraction is being achieved there. By using the same techniques, the same assumptions, the same policy prescriptions and so on.

I think there’s still a lot of great potential in south-south exchange. In fact, a third of these cities ñ it doesn’t show up quite so blatantly here ñ a third of these cities were doing south-south exchange, exchanging with each other ideas and best bractices.

George McCarthy

Alright, so go where you’re going to go before I moved you in another direction.

Tim Campbell

I want to do a quickie also on the next slide. My world consists of a thousand cities on the planet that have more than half a million in population. In fact, this is not the slide I expected, so I’d like you to ignore it because I want you to hear what I’m going to say now. In these thousand cities with this much population, half of those cities have more population in them than half of the countries in the United Nations. That means it is a whole new level of player on the global scene who are interested in making change and holding position and moving ahead in competitiveness and sustainability and so on. And they’re being more and more effective.

Just think about Copenhagen, Rio de Janeiro and the climate change meetings, which were pretty much sorry failures. Yet cities through land use change and managing traffic and doing a number of other things can manage to make some headway in these areas. In these thousand cities, between now and 2030, a third of that population will be made up of people under the age of 25.

What we found recently in a study that’s now coming to the Just City and refers a little bit more to the experience we’ve already heard is that large numbers of young people are picking up mobile platforms. There are almost 7 billion of them out on the planet now. They’re not smartphones, they don’t have access to the internet. In fact, it’s all narrowband and we’ve discovered an amazing amount of creativity and inventiveness among the young people to solve problems, to create their own identity, to assert your positions, to clamor for justness and property rights and in political affairs and having voice in their communities.

Think about it, we have a whole generation who’s grown up digitally-literate with a mobile platform, and in the next 10 years or 15 years, as they’re beginning to be adults and before the internet reaches the poorest parts of the planet, their children will also be digitally literate, so what we saw in Tunis and in Cairo these past few years is only the tip of the iceberg, I think, not a political violence or upheaval necessarily, but certainly of expression of voice, of engagement of the need to get out and connect with their local government.

We just did a paper recently for the UN that categorizes a lot of different ways that young people are connecting with local government, engaging, using SMS mainly, using narrowband, but using SMS on a radio station that then gets broadcast to 300,000 listeners, so there’s an amplification of the message there. These kinds of groups, these kinds of activities reinforce, I think, some of the things that we’ve already heard today on the panel about how justness gets scaled up and there are all kinds of new opportunities that haven’t been explored enough, I think, all around the world. All in there, Mac, thanks.

George McCarthy

Thanks, Tim, and of course, you guys don’t be shy, either. If you have something to add to the discussion, jump right in, but before you do, Mikel, let’s reward the bravery of this person at the end of our row. Could you introduce yourself and what do you have to add to the conversation?

Jill Finlayson

Thank you. My name is Jill Finlayson. I’m actually with the Dallant Networks and when you asked the question about US and poverty and the Just City, that was the area that I worked on, so I thought I would jump up and share a little more information on that. And it actually ties in with what you said at the beginning, which is the popular tweet that was retweeted a couple of times today, data being the oil of the 21st century, the reply I got when I retweeted that was “If data is the oil, who will do the refining?” This is a really important question.

Leila Janah

We will, Jill.

Jill Finlayson

When we were doing a research across the US and we were talking to practitioners about this, we were hearing things like, “Unless you pass the data button, it doesn’t matter how fast you run.” We need a thermostat, not a temperature. We don’t want to know where poverty is, we want to be able to actually monitor and influence the temperature of the community. That question really ties back to the whole issue of inclusion and how do you get people included in this?

In the US there’s a couple additional challenges, which is that people don’t like to talk about poverty. It’s kind of a verboten word. They don’t want to be called poor. So how do you talk about a subject that nobody wants to talk about and how do you include them in those conversations and in the dissemination of data?

Jessie Feller

Mac, we have the new person bending over the speaker who wants to jump off.

George McCarthy

Alright, thanks. Jill, you can jump off and then you can bring up a new person and so Leila, jump in.

Leila Janah

Sure. Just a quick note there. I love the phrase “data is the new oil.” We often say the laptop is the new sewing machine. I think one thing that’s really interesting about the world that we live in now is that we have the ability to employ people to refine this data in a cottage industry way, at a very small scale. That’s really interesting, because you don’t need all the infrastructure that you need to refine oil to refine data. We’re starting to see incredible trends in the industry that I sit in, in the crowd sourcing industry, and in outsourcing, with smaller and smaller groups being able to get together and actually earn money making sense of this data for companies.

One thing that’s really blown me away is that 5 years ago, when I started SamaSource the outsourcing industry was dominated by a big player. There were 7 men who’ve all become billionaires doing this basic data processing putsourcing work around the world. We thought, “What if we could flip that model on its head and instead of paying billions of dollars to a few people, pay billions of people a few dollars each?” That’s now possible through the rise of these crowd sourcing platforms and through all sorts of online payment systems.

I think what’s incredibly interesting about the world we live in today is that the tools to make sense of that data, to refine the data if you will, are in the hands of anybody that has a basic computing device.

George McCarthy

So let’s talk a little bit about data, Leila. Let’s talk about scale and numbers. What has SamaSource been able to do in the time that it’s been in existence in terms of the number of people you’ve touched and the number of dollars you’ve moved?

Leila Janah

We’re in the infancy of our model. I liken what we do to microfinance sometimes, and we’re where Muhammad Yunus was 4 years into building microfinance. So it’s still happening for us at a very small scale. We’ve been able to figure out that there’s a model called microwork that actually works. You can break down big data projects into these small tasksÖ

George McCarthy

Can you give me an example of one of those data projects, small tasks that people are doing?

Leila Janah

Sure. A great example is tagging images. A lot of the companies in the Bay Area ñ the computer scientists among us will understand this ñ are doing machine learning. They are training their computers to understand the data that people are sending their websites. So they might have us tag images with what’s happening inside the image. One great example is a company that has this actually tag parking spots with whether or not there’s a car in the parking spot, so that they can train a computer algorithm to be able to determine that in the future.

There are now companies that are trying to make our phones smarter, trying to make the cameras in our phones smarter, that want to be able to have you spin your camera around the room and buy stuff that you see in the room from your phone. The way that they do that is they amass large amounts of data and have humans process that date and make sense of it, so that machines can learn. So that’s just one example.

In terms of numbers we’ve been able to directly pay and train 3,000 people in some of the poorest parts of the world, in places like Kibera and Mathare slums in East Africa, in India and Pakistan, in South Asia. We even have a center in Haiti. This year we’re expanding into the US as a pilot. It’s a small scale now but what we think we could do is license this model, give other people our technology, spread this model of microwork around the world. We’re starting to see it happen already with other companies being formed around this idea.

George McCarthy

Thanks. Mikel, I saw you’re ready to go.

Mikel Maron

I just wanted to respond to the notion that data is somehow like oil. I think it can be treated that way but if I put data into myc omputer it doesn’t mean that you can’t also put it into your computer. It’s not an exhaustible resource and it can be treated both as a economic asset, but also as a public good. I think there’s room for both, but what we try to do with Map Kibera is create something which can be available to everyone, no matter where they’re coming from.

George McCarthy

We have another brave soul. Hang on. Victor, jump in.

Victor d’Allant

If I may, we were talking about building bridges south to south and I will give a very short example of a south-to-north story. Somebody in Detroit talking about urban farming and trying to find out what the best model would be for that actually to build a model that would work looking at our platform urb.im/Nairobi and discovering actually a model that works.

Let’s think about that for a minute. This is some practitioner in Nairobi who actually has discovered a business model that works in urban farming, pushing the data ñ I’m talking about data ñ from one computer to the next, so that another practitioner in Detroit can learn from this Nairobi experience, south to north. Looking, Tim, at your map, hopefully one day there will be more connections between Dakar and Nairobi and Lagos and all of Africa, north and west.

George McCarthy

One of the questions is going to be “Do people learn just by getting information transferred in the web?” As Tim pointed out in his presentation before, most of the cities are learning by actually sending people into face-to-face meetings. Victor, that was people increasing the intensity of urban agriculture by going vertical with the sack sacks. They’re building burlap sacks full of dirt that can then grow vertically and grow much more intensively on one urban plot, right? Very interesting.

Alright, so we have another expeditious person from your ranks. This is another example for you all.

Jessie Feller

We have one more applicant.

George McCarthy

Oh, good. Introduce yourself and tell us what you want to talk about.

Mark Durham

I’m Mark Durham. I also work with Victor and in fact I lead the urban project. I don’t know how much bravery I can claim to bring up here, but I have a couple of things to mention and the main one is something that I’m hearing out of everyone who’s presented here. Basically justice has a last mile problem. We have a massively and increasingly massively networked planet. We are exchanging information at a fantastic rate. The question is how do we bring this to the point where it can be applied?

We see that gap that we need to close at all levels. We see it in terms of democracy, when you walk up to the voting booth and hey, you can’t vote because you don’t have the card we want you to have. We also see it in situations where whole communities are invisible and the Map Kibera project brings an extraordinary vision of visibility, if you will, that there is a life, there’s a community, there are networks, a world in which people live, are born, fall in love, raise families, live out their lives, and they’re completely unofficial. They’re completely informal. They’re invisible to the world.

What projects like Map Kibera are doing is bringing visibility to close one aspect of that last mile gap, to have justice and to solve also the problems of cities where, as Mac was saying, we have massive numbers of people. All population growth on the planet essentially is happening in cities. For those cities to work we need to close that gap.

With urb.im what we are trying to do is to do that first of all by creating a trusted network in a certain sense by bringing into visibility the work that’s been done in six cities around the planet and a network that presumably will grow to include more and more cities, perhaps more like the map we saw a minute ago, eventually.

At that point people will start to see exactly, precisely to see without having to jump on a plane for Mumbai or to Jakarta, that their problems resemble mutatis mutandis the problems that other people have and have found ways to solve, that their tactics, the tactics that they’re looking for exist somewhere else or are being invented somewhere else, and actually find the opportunity to collaborate in that way.

The microwork model is a really interesting parallel to what we’re trying to do at the level of stategy and tactics, to close that gap, to say “You can find a way by collaborating across all of these cities and across these geographies to break down problems into soluble pieces.” That is exactly what we need to do, and that’s what urb.im is trying to do as we move forward to a more collaborative environment and one where trust and visibility pass into exchange and collaboration. Our hope is to accelerate that process of change and transformation and to put it to work in the most rapid and scalable way that we can.

George McCarthy

Here today we’ve been talking about a technical vision of the future city, a city that’s run seamlessly and people move around with great intelligence, big data feeds us. All the information we need to know about what’s going to happen in the future, so we don’t even have to worry about that. In some ways we’re a long way from that lived reality and, in fact, in most of the cities of the world we probably have two cities that exist side by side on top of each other.

One of the things about not including these informal populations that are growing and growing and growing is an efficiency argument, as well, because commerce isn’t possible if you can’t move goods. You can’t move goods if your streets are choked with people and things that mek it impossible to move things around. Declining infrastructure is something that everybody pays the price for.

More than that, there is also the added dimension ñ If you read Jack Burkman and others ñ of the social unrest and the political turmoil that’s associated with locking out large numbers of people from participating in their future and I wonder, Mikel, if you could talk just briefly about Cairo. What’s going on? Because you’re in Cairo or get to Cairo after The Arab Spring. Still things aren’t settled down, but they’re trying to put together a new master plan for the city and there’s still big empty spots in the map, which just happen to be the homes of maybe a million people or more.

Jessie Feller

Let’s do a switcheroo.

George McCarthy

Switcheroo, okay.

Mikel Maron

Some estimates are 60%Ö

George McCarthy

And no more urb.im people. I can see there’s a network of introverts.

Aaron Deacon

I am not urb.im.

Mikel Maron

Over half the population of Cairo lives in informal settlements. The planning of Cairo has traditionally just not kept with the population. That’s the case with a lot of cities in Africa and around the world. What you see on television, we were just in Cairo during the embassy riots. We were working three blocks away and you would have no idea that that was going on. That was a complete media distortion of what’s going on on the ground. What’s actually happening all across Cairo is still not visible.

There’s a lot of grassroots initiatives, and we worked in an area called [inaudible 46:36), with urbanists who were architects and activists. This area was completely inspiring. They’re extremely organized. No one knows what they’re doing, they’re not connected. They’re starting to connect to the city, but right after the revolution they’re very disengaged from the transport network of the city. They’re on one side of the railway and then on the other side the ring road. They have no exits to the ring road.

After the revolution they built their on on/off rims. They hired contractors, did it to spec but didn’t ask anyone for permission. Later, after that initiative, they were able to go to the city government and say, “Can you just put a seal of approval on that?” A few months after the revolution say said yes. It was a rosy moment. But there’s still this incredible grassroots energy and it’s still struggling to connect to the broader processes like the 2050 plan.

What I was also thinking seeing that Africa-sized gap in the map is that in some way it’s not surprising that the city of Nairobi wasn’t travelling as much. They’re over capacity and understaffed, and yet Nairobi is a place which is the hub of so much exchange. I just wonder, we’ve seen new forms of organization emerge where technologies and ways of communicating can actuallyÖ Is there a new kind of city that can respond to these problems better? Because in some ways the official government structures aren’t able to respond fast enough.

George McCarthy

That’s a good opening question for the whole panel. Are we seeing the crest of new forms of cities that might be able to learn and work better? Leila, I saw you reaching for the mike.

Leila Janah

I just wanted to address the question about youth and employment and political instability because we deal with that all the time and Nairobi is an interesting place to work right now. It’s leading up to its next presidential election. In the last elections there were outbreaks of violence across the city and many people didn’t realize that the protesters in several of the slums were actually paid young men who didn’t have jobs, who were paid $1 a day to riot.

I think that a large population of educated but unemployed people is perhaps the biggest threat to global stability that we have going forward, and certainly an enormous threat to cities. I’ll just give you one anecdote. On the biggest highway project in Africa that I know of going on right now, which is a 15-lane highway going from Nairoby to Thika.

Mikel Maron

Maybe like 10-lane.

Leila Janah

I was 15 by the highway worker, the mason who is working on it, but that seemed a little extreme. Ten to fifteen-lane highway, the biggest highway that East Africa has ever seen. I met a young man who is working on it who makes under $2 a day and sees really fancy cars drive by him every day and retreats to his slum at the end of each day, which he walks to from the worksite. It takes him about an hour each way. I think with that kind of inequality you’re bound to have problems when people feel like they’re excluded not only from the political process, but the economic systems that drive their city.

George McCarthy

So in this case data could be the new gasoline, not just oil, right? Expeditious person number 3, tell us who you are.

Jessie Feller

We have someone else here, too.

George McCarthy

Okay, thanks, Jessie.

Aaron Deacon

Aaron Deacon, with the KC Digital Drive. This is a brand new initiative. Actually it’s interesting, to your question about new kinds of city government, Kansas City, as a lot of you probably know was awarded this Google Fiber project. Google’s building up this fiber-to-the-home network. It was won through a joint application between Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri, which means that you’re operating across state lines and you have to operate regionally in a way that is pretty difficult for our region, but is starting to get a lot better.

There’s a playbook initiative that’s come out of this and so it’s what KC Digital Drive is designed to execute on. It expands healthcare and education and a lot of other things. Digital divide and digital inclusion issues were predominant along that, and so it was an interesting process. One of the advantages we’ve had sort of developing this playbook, in some ways apart from Google, who is driving the technology, but we’re really coming at it from a sociological perspective. It’s very people-driven, which has been very fun to hear this conversation which has that same bent.

As we have developed this and began executing over the past six weeks we’ve seen a really interesting opportunity with this digital divide issue, which 6-8 months ago no one talked about at all. It was not really on the social justice radar of the city. Even when Google announced this project and everyone talked about gigabit speeds and smart cities and all this next-generation network stuff.

Then they announced this offering that is basically $300 for 7 years of internet, and so all of a sudden there’s this sort of digital inclusion play. It’s a demand-driven rollup model, if you’re not familiar with how they did it, but there was a six-week period through which Google said, “Okay, neighborhoods who are interested in this, whether it be the gigabit or whether it be just regular speed internet for basically free, can express demand and sign up.”

The story really sort of exploded aboutÖ This is just going to make the digital divide worse. Everyone’s going to be left behind, poor neighborhoods aren’t going to sign up. It was really fascinating to see this generate all sorts of anger about a problem that has existed for as long as the internet’s existed.

The point of this whole story is when these kinds of events happen and when all these smart city initiatives that we’re talking about and that the technology starts to really be on the radar in places, it sort of awakens this digital literacy impulse and creates a moment to have citizenry engage in this as a justice issue. I think when you were talking about the urb.im and sort of the US cities and how you’re seeing some different issues there, and some of the same issues, I thought that was very interesting because the take rates are very low for just internet right now.

We saw a lot of people saying, “Well, even if it’s 300 bucks, we can’t afford that.” Is there a financial issue? And in some cases that’s true, but most people say we don’t need it. I don’t need the internet. I don’t want it. The challenge in terms of addressing that isn’t just how do you wire people up, but really how do you communicate that there is potential to change your life?

George McCarthy

Certainly in the first round of technology and the internet, a lot of people worried about the fact that the internet disconnected people from each other and from place, right? It threw everybody up in the air. But now we’re actually talking about kind of access and connectivity as something that actually now reconnects people and maybe in a different way. There’s an irony there, so Victor, I think you were going to jump in.

Jessie Feller

Let’s do a switcheroo.

George McCarthy

Let’s do a switcheroo. Okay, Jessie.

Jessie Feller

Erin Barnes.

Victor d’Allant

Before everyone sits down here, why is she sitting down here, a quick anecdote about the digital divide and the way we look at the internet. For us, here in this room, the internet is coming to us, in our pocket, in our laptops, in our iPads. What we have heard in several cities in the US, including Detroit, we go to the internet. It means we go to the library, we go to a cyber cafÈ, we go to where the internet is because the internet is not where we are. That’s a very different way to look at being connected, even in the way it is expressed. That’s the way that we say it. I go to the internet from 4 to 6.

George McCarthy

Mikel, I thought you were going to say something. Jump in.

Mikel Maron

It’s interesting, the motivations of people to get online in Kenya. In 2009 in Mombasa, two huge pipes showed up which enabled things like SamaSource to happen and Map Kibera to happen because suddenly Kenya and a lot of Africa now is connected to the global network. Kenya has incredible mobile phone penetration, mostly basic phones, but most of them can get basic internet ñ not smartphones.

Facebook is an incredible driver in Africa. It’s interesting, because that’s a very personal relationship-based thing. The other thing which is driving people to use their phones more is of course M-Pesa, which is another thing I think the rest of the world can learn a lot about. It’s a mobile payment system which more than half of Kenyans use regularly to transfer money. People who never had banking before, people who were making money through SamaSource can now I supposed get paid through M-Pesa.

George McCarthy

So Tim.

Tim Campbell

Just one other thing. I mean, because the internet penetration is still only 10%, there’s still another generation or maybe more that are going to be excluded from even going to the internet. I think that’s the thing that I would want to emphasize. In a study we did we were looking at 50 cases. They were all narrowband 2G phones for which there have been quite a lot of adaptations of software. For instance, Facebook 0 ñ how many people have heard of Facebook 0? It’s not internet-based, but it travels through SMS, the same as OperaMini, Renren in China, Gmail SMS. These all facilitate the exchange of people’s ideas, which I think allows them voice an engagement. I think that’s the key thing. And all kinds of interesting applications that are generated basically by young people to get engaged with our government and get engaged with public affairs.

George McCarthy

Okay, Leila.

Leila Janah

Just one note on connectivity. One thing that we’ve seen that’s fascinating to me is that many SamaSource workers, when they finish their 6-month or a year-long stint with us go on to earn a full time income doing online work. So they are earning an income doing content writing for a Korean company, for example, that’s actually two workers are now doing that at SamaSource, that I know of. It’s just unbelievable.

I actually think that maybe particularly so in communities that are disconnected, like very poor rural communities, connectivity is an essential human need. I actually think Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is off now and we need to rewrite it to includeÖ

George McCarthy

To include the internet.

Leila Janah

To include the internet. I mean, I’m not joking. We worked in a refugee camp called Dadaab, which is right on the Kenyan border with Somalia and is the largest refugee camp in the world, 800,000 people. I met a young man there who told me that he would trade his food rations for cell phone credit. That’s how important it was. Their food rations there consisted of oil and rice and water and just the very basics, so for somebody to trade what limited food they had to get connectivity on their cell phone illustrates what a basic human need it is.

George McCarthy

This idea of this metaphor bridges we’re talking about now is bridging to multiple people to crowdsource solutions to problems and to be able to share and learn together, which is an important component of moving us from the cities of the past to the cities of the future where people are actually engaged in changing their cities.

I think that Erin, who has just joined us, another expeditious personÖ I think we have two other people waiting in the ball pen. Keep that in mind. We have to move it along. Erin, tell us a little bit about your crowd sourcing that you’re doing.

Erin Barnes

Hi, thanks for having me up here. Ioby is a crowd resourcing platform for citizen-led neighbor-funded projects in urban centers. We only work domestically and so the challenge that I think that we’re facing at Ioby right now is I feel like a lot of digital platforms are either reflections of offline action or they can power offline action. The ways that those two things work is a little different based on who the user is, and so I’m curious if you think that there might be a reason that we should try to bridge those two types of uses or if maybe globally maybe that’s not actually an issue at all. If you’re saying that Facebook is a big driver for action, maybe it’s a perception that just I have.

George McCarthy

Or driver for what kind of action is also the question because you’re talking about things that start off in theory of other space and somehow take real form on the ground somewhere, right? What kind of action are we talking about getting driven from this virtual space?

Mikel Maron

It’s interesting, I think of SDI’s work, because the way that they start working is by starting savings groups, often with women collecting their money together so that they can take collective action or support each other in some way. That’s completely offline. I’m just very curious to think about what happens when that can get also that kind of empowerment offline, where it can be connected.

George McCarthy

Erin, but Ioby is something that we access in our backyards, where people actually will contribute money to a project that they can see. It starts out as an idea but it ends up being something physically going on on the ground they could walk by from day to day, right?

Erin Barnes

The idea of Ioby is people want to say, “Yes, I want to do something in my backyard. I want to do something for my own community,” and they ask neighbors to chip in. The average donation is like $35. People fund the project. The project happens in the neighborhood and then essentially then the results of it are shared back to the larger community. But for then what purpose? And then how does that actually then inspire new action? Those are the challenges that we’re going through.

George McCarthy

Okay. We’ll do a quick switcheroo. Leila, do you have something to say?

Leila Janah

Just a quick note on that point. I think a lot of it is dependent on the price that people have to pay for internet. When we started SamaSource on average people in Africa paid 400 times what people in America pay as a percentage of their per capita income to get online. I’m sure that’s changed since the fiber landed in East Africa, but it’s an astounding number when you think about the barriers to entry. I think that affects whether people spend time just browsing around the internet or whether they view it as kind of a tool that should only be used for absolute necessities.

George McCarthy

That’s going to be important if connectivity becomes a precursor for citizenship. As we’ve seen, if there’s a new contract between people and their cities and it involves their connectivity, then we’d better worry about that quite a bit. Last expeditious person, as we’re running out of time. Tell us what you’re here for and who you are.

Inola

My name is Inola and I’m actually taking off my company hat with this question. It goes back to that idea of mobile telephony and how that’s a game changer. One of the things that was really notable to me is this idea of real time data and I think during the Arab Spring one of the projects that popped up was when people were injured they could ping their location and they could have mobile hospitals. I guess the question I have to this panel is when you’re talking about a just city and the services offered to citizens, do mobile phones change what those services are and how they’re packaged and then redefine the relationship between the city and the citizen?

George McCarthy

Anybody?

Tim Campbell

Yes, the answer is yes.

George McCarthy

Talk into the mike.

Tim Campbell

Just one quick example. In many cities in India, where there are blackouts or water outages, the companies are now getting to the point where they automatically send SMSs down the line to let people know that it’s going to be out during this number of hours. Get ready, fill your buckets now so that you’re prepared, you have water at least to get you through the night or whatever it may be. It’s a tiny example, I think, of how it changes the dynamic and the relationship. There’s a whole another category of political change that goes on because of this ability to express opinion, voice, preferences and so on.

Jessie Feller

Can we do 30 seconds switcheroo, one comment from one person?

George McCarthy

Okay, 30 seconds switcheroo. I think this is really something that we need to take seriously, this idea that if citizenship is conveyed with connectivity – if we expect everybody to be able to contribute to the world through the internet, then we’d better really worry about this digital divide.

Jonathan Hart

My name is Jonathan Hart from that biggest company nobody’s ever heard of, Schneider Electric. One thing that’s really important for us ñ we’re talking connectivity, but all of that requires electricity. There are still 1.3 billion people with zero access to safe or reliable electricity. One of the things that we found is that first step on ladder to get towards being able to do jobs, being to do work, being able to be educated is providing that access to energy.

One of the best joint ventures that probably no one’s ever heard of either is called Grameen-Schneider Electric. It’s a new joint venture we’ve established in Bangladesh, which is about bringing off-grid lighting to homes, so to battery units. The local person in the village can charge the battery units using solar, then almost like the milkman, goes out, distributes the batteries around the village and then people rent for a couple of cents a day that battery, use it, get it filled back up.

When we were designing this we had a big feedback. What was the additional thing they wanted to be able to do? We’ve now integrated the cell phone charging socket onto the battery, so yes, they want light, but number two, as you’ve only said, is communication. Because I don’t want to go to the town and have to pay extortion amounts to the guy who’s got the one generator who’s now deciding who gets the power and who doesn’t and how much I charge them for it.

All of that has brought a whole different dynamic because it now means that people aren’t going out to find kerosene, aren’t spending their time to pay huge amounts of money. You’d think with kerosene and oil for lighting, that’s equivalent of around about $8 per kW-h. How much are you guys paying in the States here? 10 cents, 8 cents? As soon as you start to look at that, and I think this connection between IT and energy and electricity has to be even closer than it ever has been today.

George McCarthy

Thanks. I see that we are out of time. If we could just have a quick round of any kind of closing thoughts and then we all quickly vacate the stage so that Gordon, who’s waiting in the wings, can take over. So Tim, any quick closing thoughts?

Tim Campbell

I think I’ve covered the ground for what I want to say, soÖ

George McCarthy

Gives me more time for mine.

Victor d’Allant

One word, urb.im.

Leila Janah

I’ll just say this is a city that talks a lot about innovation. I think innovation without inclusion is meaningless, so I’m really happy that we’re having this conversation.

George McCarthy

Thanks, Leila. I offer the radical proposition that for cities of the future to work we’re actually going to have to really care about things beyond technical systems, people. We’re going to need to actually figure out how we engage people and really transforming the places they live and participating in the decisions that influence their own future. I think we’ve talked a little bit today, but only a little bit about the kinds of bridges that can e built, that can help people to move from the margins to the mainstream, from exclusion to participation, and I think technology offers huge advances in that regard.

I think there’s other things that offer huge advances, too, like our ability to figure out how to get along and work together differently. Part of that is facilitated by technology and part of that is facilitated by our intentions. So hopefully one of the things we’ll intend to do and continue to do is find ways to work together better across all sectors, the public sector, the private sector, the civic sector, and remember that the cities of the future, if they’re going to really succeed or going to have to be inclusive and they’re going to have to really attend to the needs of all of population, not just a select few.

Join me in thanking our panel, our expeditious audience members who came up and joined us, and thank you for your kind attention.

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