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2014 Meeting of the Minds in Detroit Focuses On Innovation and Collaboration


People living in today’s digital world are well aware of the many different ways the Internet has connected citizens from across the globe. Two of the most popular Internet activities, search engine use and email, are able to connect people from hundreds of thousands of miles away with the simple click of a button.

This level of connectivity is no doubt an amazing feat, but what about entire cities being managed with the click of a button from a single centralized location? This is a question many urban planners and tech-savvy engineers have been contemplating for years, and the recent Meeting of the Minds in Detroit, MI brought this idea one step closer to reality.

The annual Meeting of the Minds brings together global leaders in urban sustainability and technology to discuss advanced possibilities like the “smart cities” mentioned above. This year’s event was held at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit and included 375 leaders of innovation from all over the world.

During the meeting, leaders from the Netherlands shared their experiences with smart cities, using the city of Eindhoven as an example. They stressed the importance of participatory innovation and the organic growth of ideas. Successful innovation cannot only be the result of municipal leaders, they argued, but should be a collaborative effort including all creative types.

While Eindhoven provides one of the best (and most successful) examples of a smart city, cities on the east and west coasts of the United States have also adopted this innovative approach to city planning.

Data on air quality, pollution and traffic is constantly collected throughout the city of San Jose, CA, thanks to a sponsorship by Intel, that allows city officials to stay on top of traffic issues and health hazards. For example, data regarding traffic jams can easily allow officials to reroute drivers around congested areas to keep things running smoothly.

Likewise, New York City uses innovative technology throughout its public housing units to save on energy costs, ultimately saving the city a great deal of money.

If there was one note to take away from this year’s Meeting of the Minds, it is that progress and innovation are a collaborative effort. “Innovation cannot rest on any one individual or chief. It is about the collective spread of knowledge and information, and the iteration of it so that it becomes better, and eventually mainstream,” stated Pittsburgh’s new chief of innovation and performance Debra Lam, according to Model D.

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