Smarter Cities: An Evening of Debate

Monday 4 March 2013, 5.30pm | VIDEO NOW ONLINE

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Cities – dystopia or the best arena for human flourishing? Will all that is worst in city life dominate the future, or will technology allow us to continue to enjoy the culture, vibrancy and pluralism that only cities can provide?

Crowds, jams, roadworks, crumbling infrastructure, crime, epidemics, sink schools, endless commutes. These downsides are all set to get worse, with over 75% of people in the developed world expected to be city dwellers by 2050. Is this the future: London engulfing everything from Southampton to Colchester, the whole of South-East England becoming a hellish urban sprawl?

It doesn’t have to be so. Enter Smarter Cities. Computer models that predict the likely location of a crime and focus police resources to prevent it; intelligent traffic lights and parking systems that dramatically reduce congestion; all the information you need in an emergency when and where you need it – if a flood occurs an alert is sent out to emergency services, hospitals and traffic planners to coordinate the response. It’s all about the intelligent integration of data, technology, communications and good government.

On March 4th as part of the Switched On series in partnership with Shell, Intelligence Squared brought together four global luminaries to the stage to explain how human ingenuity is transforming city living. Enrique Peñalosa, the former mayor of Bogotá, who has been described as “one of the great public servants of our time” and views cities as being planned for a purpose—to create human well-being; Rick Robinson, executive architect for IBM’s Smarter Cities, which spreads techno-magic from Birmingham to Rio de Janeiro; Sunand Prasad, a “starchitect” who served on the London Mayor’s Design Advisory Panel and the UK Government’s Green Construction Board; and Adam Newton, from Shell’s world-famous Scenarios Team, which has been future-gazing the emergence of the megalopolis.


Adam Newton

Projects Manager in the Shell Strategy and Scenarios Team

Enrique Peñalosa

Former mayor of Bogotá (1998-2001) who transformed the city’s quality of life with his radical innovations and currently President of the Board of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy of New York

Sunand PrasadSunand Prasad

Senior Partner of architectural practice Penoyre & Prasad LLP and former President of the Royal Institute of British Architects (2007 – 2009)

Rick RobinsonRick Robinson

Executive Architect for IBM’s Smarter Cities


Tony TraversTony Travers

Director of LSE London and a professor in the London School of Economics’ Government Department

All speakers are subject to change.