Your smart summer reading list in 5 clicks

Fri, 2015-06-26 06:00 -- Liz Enbysk

Not all of your summer reading has to come from the best-seller lists. We think you'll find some interesting fodder in our "smart reads" roundup below.

Our Future is Urban. Why Don't We Talk More about Cities?  In an essay in The Guardian, Geoff Mulgan writes about some of the world's most visionary mayors and how they transform people's lives. He calls Michael Bloomberg, former New York City mayor, the most visible of all. "His 12 years in charge of New York included its continuing renaissance, with strong economic growth and falling crime. His rule was marked by attention to detail, a love of data and a passion for innovation," writes Mulgan, who is chief executive of the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts. But he also cites achievements of mayors who may not be so familiar -- like Sheila Dixit providing not only smart airports, but also delivering good public health and jobs for the poor in Delhi. And how in Medellin, once known for cocaine barons and murder, Sergio Fajardo led such a transformation that in 2013 Citigroup ranked it the world’s most innovative city.

Scenario 2060: From Parking to Parkland: In this glimpse into the future, Susanne Gold paints a picture of city life 45 years from now through the story of Micha and his family who decide to move back to a city to open a business.  In the piece from Council Associate Partner Siemens "Pictures of the Future" site, Gold writes of 2060: "No emissions, no car noise, no gridlock. Instead, just acres of parkland and lots of public spaces. Thanks to digital technologies that allow cities to streamline their infrastructures while allowing ever more people to do most everything from home, the smart cities of the future will offer their inhabitants the comforts of metropolitan living combined with the benefits of rural life."

Thought Leaders Speak Out: The Evolving Electric Power Industry: This eBook published by the Institute for Electric Innovation features essays by utility and technology company leaders, policymakers and others involved in the future of power. Among the essays is one on creating an active and dynamic grid by Philip Mezey, President and CEO of Council Lead Partner Itron. Stephen Callahan, Vice President, Global Strategies and Solutions, Energy and Utilities for Council Lead Partner IBM, wrote a piece on the evolving utility customer titled "The Times They are A-Changin.'" Topic for Dr. Lawrence E. Jones, Vice President, Utility Innovations and Infrastructure Resilience with Council Lead Partner Alstom Grid, was evolving regulation. His essay – "Toward a Modernized Regulatory Compact" – suggested you can't build and operate a utility of the future with regulations of the past.

This Tech Giant Taught 3,000 Kids to Build Robots in a Year: Writing for Wired, staff writer Issie Lapowsky features Council Lead Partner Qualcomm's Thinkabit Labs, a tech-focused mini-school held at the company's San Diego headquarters. "Three days a week," she writes, "busloads of middle schoolers, many of them from groups underrepresented in tech, take a field trip to Thinkabit, where Qualcomm staffers aim to expose them to all the careers the industry has to offer. Oh, and they get to build their own robots, too."  Qualcomm started the program last year and according to educators in the San Diego school system, it's already making a difference. One says the experience has encouraged more girls at his school to pursue STEM programs, which is one of the objectives.

The Paradox of Technology’s Impact on Inequality in Africa: Dr. Robert Pepper, Council Lead Partner Cisco’s Vice-President for Global Technology Policy, provides insights from the World Economic Forum's Global Information Technology Report 2015. In a commentary on the WEF site, he says the report shows how information and communications technologies (ICTs) are a powerful driver of economic growth, but also points out barriers to inclusive prosperity. The available evidence presents a paradox, he says, "where ICTs are driving economic growth and decreasing global inequality while, at the same time, contributing to rising within-country income inequality." The reason for the paradox, he suggests, is that ICT improves the standard of living for those who adopt it. But for those who don't, their standard of living does not improve  as fast or as much. What's needed, he writes, is immediate action to close that disparity between ICT adoption/penetration.

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