Future of Cities

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Silicon Valley knows what the future is going to be. America’s mayors must plan for that future now.

The partnership between the National League of Cities and Tech4America creates powerful opportunities for discussion, reflection, and joint action across a range of policy areas, while serving as a dynamic resource for elected officials, policy professionals, and technologists.

NLC-T4A Partnership Elements
Quarterly Tech Advisory Group
Mayors Trips to San Francisco & Silicon Valley
Engagement During NLC National Conferences
Policy Conversations & Roundtables

for more info: cities@t4a.org


In an era when getting things done nationally is ever more difficult, cities are places where innovation and progress still happen. Conceived by Mayor Steve Benjamin of Columbia, SC (the 2018-19 US Conference of Mayors President) and NLC’s CEO Clarence Anthony, Tech4America has created a bridge for cities to learn from the most dynamic leaders in Silicon Valley. Small groups and workshops will explore topics that range from the mundane to those that only science fiction writers could have dreamed up a few years ago.

The Future of Work & Workers
The Future of Transportation & Transit
Energy & Climate
Big Data
Artificial Intelligence
Augmented Reality / Virtual Reality
The Internet of Things


NLC.org                T4A.org



The Six Laws of Technology Everyone Should Know
The Wall Street Journal (November 2017) / link

Three decades ago, historian Melvin Kranzberg of Georgia Tech wrote six laws to explain society’s unease with the power and pervasiveness of technology. Though based on historical examples from the Cold War, the laws read as a cheat sheet for explaining our current era.

  1.   ‘Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral’
  2.   ‘Invention is the mother of necessity.’
  3.   ‘Technology comes in packages, big and small.
  4.   ‘Although technology might be a prime element in many public issues, nontechnical factors take precedence in technology-policy decisions.’
  5.   ‘All history is relevant, but the history of technology is the most relevant.’
  6.   ‘Technology is a very human activity.’

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What Should We Call Silicon Valley’s Unique Politics?
The Atlantic (September 2017) / link

A 2017 survey of tech-company founders, published by Stanford and featuring T4A’s Greg Ferenstein, shows they’re socially liberal and favor taxing the rich, but as anti-regulation as hardcore Republicans. The caricature of Silicon Valley people is that they are simple libertarians. The new survey deconstructs this silly portrait. Fewer tech founders (24%) than Republicans (63%) or Democrats (44%) generally agree with a simple statement of libertarian philosophy: “I would like to live in a society where government does nothing except provide national defense and police protection, so that people could be left alone to earn whatever they could.” But tech founder politics are different from either political party in unusual ways. Tech founders are developing a new, strange kind of politics that’s opposed to regulation, but for redistribution through taxation.

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City Trends for Techies to Know
Winter 2018

What’s Happening in Cities? Big Metros Creating Most Jobs & Largest # of Births. The fifteen fastest growing metropolitan areas have already been responsible for over half of new jobs and three-quarters of births from 2000 – 2014. This incredible growth has also created challenges, as much of the population growth is from immigrant communities who face barriers to equal economic access.

What’s Happening in Cities? Diversifying Populations. Ninety-eight percent of growth in the hundred largest cities since 2000 was from growth in minority populations. A Brookings Institution analysis of the 2011- 2015 American Community Survey found that despite this increased diversity in cities, racial segregation has only moderately declined.

What’s Happening in Cities? Millennials Going Urban & Abandoning Cars. Younger entrants into the workforce are showing increasing preference for offices located in city centers, and at the very least, in close proximity to different mobility modes. As Millennials are eschewing cars and showing preferences for other modes of transportation like biking and walking, it is hard to imagine that they will suddenly feel the urge to purchase cars and start driving to work. This means that offices will need to be located in proximity to all of these transportation options, as well as to the metropolitan areas that this generation prefers in order to attract the best workers.

What’s Happening in Cities? Density Helps Lower Income Americans With High Transportation Costs. Low income households are disproportionately affected by job sprawl, and the rising cost of transportation impacts these households more severely. A Brookings Institution study indicates that for working-poor homeowners, nearly 25% of their household income is consumed by housing and commuting expenses alone. This is comparable to 15.3%, on average, for other households. For those working-poor individuals who rent, 32.4% of their household income is consumed by these costs.

What’s Happening in Cities? Housing Costs Exploding. Rising real estate prices have outpaced wage growth. Poorer residents are being priced out and cities are becoming emptied of middle-income jobs. Cities must decide how they will offer economic access to their most vulnerable populations through affordable housing, access to education and workforce development.

What’s Happening in Cities? America is Getting Older, Cities With It. The elderly and retired will contribute more than 40% of consumption growth in housing, transport, and hospitality sectors. School systems, health care, mobility and the housing markets will all be impacted as the number of Americans over 65 doubles between 2000 and 2040, while the number of adults over 85 will quadruple. The median age in Houston, for example, will increase from 33 in 2010 to 38 by 2040.37 In New York City, the overall population is projected to increase by 13.9% from 2010 to 2030 while the elderly population is expected to increase by 44.2%. In contrast, the school-age population of children in New York is expected to decline from 17.5% of the city in 2000 to 15.4 % in 2030.