Even though American cities took a hit when the manufacturing sector died off, many of those cities are reviving themselves by investing in innovation and technology, Fast Company says.
Cities like Pittsburgh have developed “ecosystems for innovation” for its inhabitants, turning the bust they experienced when then need for products, like steel, decreased into a boom. For example, Pittsburgh International Airport partnered with Carnegie Mellon University to run an “innovations lab,” which will “test how automation and robotics can help the airport run more efficiently, raise revenue, operate better, and improve the passenger experience,” Fast Company says.
Madison, Wisconsin’s partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Madison has helped the city’s economy see a positive bump. Madison’s nonprofit Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation Accelerator Program, the nation’s first patent and licensing program, has helped the university with funding, advice, etc. to turn its researchers into “commercially promising technologies.”
“Getting cities to adapt and be “smarter” isn’t easy, but it’s necessary,” Fast Company says. “Cities are complex, living ecosystems that can only thrive if they look toward the future, rather than getting dragged down by the past.”
Aside from partnering with local higher education institutions, another way American cities are keeping themselves healthy is by reconfiguring their infrastructure. For example, Kansas City is deploying public Wi-Fi in its downtown area, “to close the digital divide and collecting data in real-time,” Fast Company says. This comes in handy for things like determining how long it takes for a car to find a place to park, for example, which will inform decision makers about infrastructure going forward.
Pittsburgh also works with nonprofits, like Grounded Strategies to transform vacant lots into greenspace projects, or spaces for neighborhoods, Fast Company says.
“It encourages the independence of decision-making and implementations of strategies versus waiting for new people to come in and do it for you,” Evaine Sing, the executive director of Grounded Strategies, tells Fast Company. “People who live there know it best.”