National Research Council of Canada
The National Research Council of Canada (NRC or sometimes NRCC) has started a new series of public engagement exercises based on the results from their last such project (Game changing technologies initiative) mentioned in my Jan. 30, 2015 posting. The report from that project ‘Summary of On-Line Dialogue with Stakeholders, February 9 – 27, 2015‘ has been released (from the summary’s overview),
Approximately 3000 invitations were sent out by NRC and collaborating organizations, including industry associations and other governmental organizations, to participate in a web-based, interactive dialogue. Participants were also welcomed to forward the invitation to members of their organization and their networks. In this early stage of NRC’s Game-Changing Technologies Initiative, emphasis was placed on selecting a diverse range of participants to ensure a wide breath of ideas and exchange. Once a few technology opportunities have been narrowed down by NRC, targeted consultation will take place for in-depth exploration.
Overall, 705 people registered on the web-based platform, with 261 active respondents (23% from industry; 22% from academia; 35% from government that included 26% from the Government of Canada; and 20% from the other category that included non-governmental organizations, interest groups, etc.). Sectors represented by the active participants included education, agriculture, management consulting, healthcare, research technology organizations, information and communications technologies, manufacturing, biotechnology, computer and electronics, aerospace, construction, finance, pharma and medicine, and public administration. Figure 1 outlines the distribution of active participants across Canada.
Once registered, participants were invited to review and provide input on up to seven opportunity areas:
• The cities of the future
• Prosperous and sustainable rural and remote communities
• Maintaining quality of life for an aging population
• Protecting Canadian security and privacy
• Transforming the classroom for continuous and adaptive learning
• Next generation health care systems
• A safe, sustainable and profitable food industry (p. 4 of the PDF summary)
Here’s the invitation to participate in the ‘cities’ discussion (from a Jan. 22, 2016 email invite),
I would like to invite you to participate in the next phase of NRC’s Game-Changing Technologies Initiative, focused on the Cities of the Future. Participation will take place via an interactive on-line tool allowing participants to provide insights and to engage in exchanges with each other. The on-line tool is available at https://facpro.intersol.ca (User ID: Cities, Password: NRC) starting today and continuing until February 8, 2016. Input from stakeholders like you is critical to helping NRC identify game-changing technologies with the potential to improve Canada’s future competitiveness, productivity and quality of life.
In 2014, NRC began working with stakeholders to identify technology areas that have the potential for revolutionary impacts on Canadian prosperity and the lives of Canadians over the next 20 to 30 years. Through this process, we identified seven opportunities critical to Canada’s future, which were submitted for comments to a diverse range of thought-leaders from different backgrounds across Canada in February 2015. A summary of comments received is available at http://www.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/obj/doc/game_changing-revolutionnaires/game_changing_technologies_initiative_summary_of_dialogue.pdf (PDF, 3.71 MB).
We then selected The Cities of the Future as the first area for in-depth exploration with stakeholders and potential partners. The online exercise will focus on the challenges that Canadian cities will face in the coming decades, with the goal of selecting specific problems that have the potential for national R&D partnerships and disruptive socio-economic impacts for Canada. The outcomes of this exercise will be discussed at a national event (by invitation only) to take place in early 2016.
Please feel free to forward this invitation to members of your organization or your expert network who may also want to contribute. Should you or a member of your team have any questions about this initiative, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Carl Caron at: Carl.Caron@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca … .
Before you rush off to participate, you might like to know how the participants’ dialogue was summarized (from the report),
The Opportunity: Urban areas are struggling to manage traffic congestion, provision of basic utilities, waste disposal, air quality and more. These issues will grow as more and more people migrate to large cities. Future technologies – such as connected vehicles, delivery drones, waste-to-energy systems, and self-repairing materials could enable sustainable, urban growth for Canada and the world.
Participant Response: Many participants pointed out that most of the technologies described in the opportunity area already exist/are under development. What is needed is pricing and performance improvements to increase scalability and market penetration. Participants that neither agreed nor disagreed stated that replacing aging infrastructure and high costs would be major stumbling blocks. It was suggestedthat the focus should be on a shift to smaller, interconnectedsatellite communities capable of scalable energy production and distribution,local food production, waste management, and recreational space. (p. 6)
Cities rising in important as political entities
There’s a notion that cities as they continue growing will become the most important governance structure in most people’s lives and judging from the NRC’s list, it would seem that organization recognizes the rising importance of cities, if not their future dominance.
Parag Khanna wrote a February 2011 essay (When cities rule the world) for McKinsey & Company making the argument for city dominance in the future. For anyone not familiar with Khanna (from his eponymous website),
Parag Khanna is a leading global strategist, world traveler, and best-selling author. He is a CNN Global Contributor and Senior Research Fellow in the Centre on Asia and Globalisation at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. He is also the Managing Partner of Hybrid Reality, a boutique geostrategic advisory firm, and Co-Founder & CEO of Factotum, a leading content branding agency.
Given that Singapore is a city and a state, Khanna would seem uniquely placed to comment on the possibilities. Here are a few comments from Khanna’s essay,
The 21st century will not be dominated by America or China, Brazil or India, but by The City. In a world that increasingly appears ungovernable, cities—not states—are the islands of governance on which the future world order will be built. Cities are humanity’s real building blocks because of their economic size, population density, political dominance, and innovative edge. They are real “facts on the ground,” almost immeasurably more meaningful to most people in the world than often invisible national borders.
In this century, it will be the city—not the state—that becomes the nexus of economic and political power. Already, the world’s most important cities generate their own wealth and shape national politics as much as the reverse. The rise of global hubs in Asia is a much more important factor in the rebalancing of global power between West and East than the growth of Asian military power, which has been much slower. In terms of economic might, consider that just forty city-regions are responsible for over two-thirds of the total world economy and most of its innovation. To fuel further growth, an estimated $53 trillion will be invested in urban infrastructure in the coming two decades.
Vancouver conversations (cities and mass migrations)
On a somewhat related note (i.e., ‘global cities’ and the future), there’s going to be talk in Vancouver about ‘mass migrations’ and their impact on cities. From the Dante Society of British Columbia events page,
The Dante Alighieri Society of BC and ARPICO and are pleased to invite you to a public lecture “Global Nomads, Modern Caravanserais and Neighbourhood Commons” which will take place on January 27th at 7.00 pm at the Vancouver Public Library.
Please see details below.
Global Nomads, Modern Caravanserais and Neighbourhood Commons
Dr. Arianna Dagnino
Wednesday, January 27, 2016, 7.00 pm
Vancouver Public Library, Alma VanDusen Room, 350 W Georgia St., Vancouver BC V6B 6B1
Global cities such as Vancouver, London, Berlin or Sydney currently face two major challenges: housing affordability and the risk of highly fragmented societies along cultural lines.
In her talk “Global Nomads, Modern Caravanserais and Neighbourhood Commons” Dr. Dagnino argues that one of the possible solutions to address the negative aspects of economic globalization and the disruptive effects of mass-migrations is to envisage a new kind of housing complex, “the transcultural caravanserai.”
The caravanserai in itself is not a new concept: in late antiquity until the advent of the railway, this kind of structure functioned to lodge nomads along the caravan routes in the desert regions of Asia or North Africa and allowed people on the move to meet and interact with members of sedentary communities.
Dr. Dagnino re-visits the socio-cultural function of the caravanserai showing its potential as a polyfunctional hub of mutual hospitality and creative productivity. She also gives account of how contemporary architects and designers have already started to re-envisage the role of the caravanserai for the global city of the future not only as a transcultural “third space” that courageously cuts across ethnicities, cultures, and religions but also as a model for low-rise, high density urban complex. This model contemplates a mix of residential units, commercial and trades activities, craftsman workshops, arts studios, educational enterprises, and public spaces for active fruition, thus reinstating the productive use of property and the residents’ engagement with the Commons.
Dr. Arianna Dagnino is an Italian researcher, writer, and socio-cultural analyst. She holds an M.A. in Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures from l’Università degli Studi di Genova and a Ph.D. in Sociology and Comparative Literature from the University of South Australia. She currently teaches at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, where she is conducting research in the field of transcultural studies. She is a Board Member of the newly-established Dante Alighieri Society of British Columbia (www.dantesocietybc.ca).
Dr. Dagnino research interest focuses on how socio-economic factors and cultural changes linked to global mobility shape identities, interpersonal relations, cultural practices, and urban environments. As an international journalist and scholar, Dr. Dagnino has travelled across and lived in various parts of the globe. Her neonomadic routes have led her to study Russian in Gorbachev’s Moscow, investigate the researchers’ quest for ground-breaking technologies at MIT in Boston, witness the momentous change of regime in South Africa, analyze the effects of multiculturalism in Australia, and examine the progressive Asianization of Western Canada. In her twenty-year long activity Dr. Dagnino has published several books on the socio-cultural impact of globalization, transnational flows, and digital technologies. Among them, I Nuovi Nomadi (New Nomads; Castelvecchi, 1996), Uoma (Woman-Machine, Mursia, 2000), and Jesus Christ Cyberstar (IPOC, 2009 ). Dr. Dagnino is also the author of a transcultural novel, Fossili (Fossils, Fazi Editore, 2010), inspired by her four years spent in sub-Saharan Africa, and of the recently published book Transcultural Authors and Novels in the Age of Global Mobility (Purdue University Press, 2015).
Please join us for a presentation & lively discussion.
Date & Time: [Wednesday] January 27, 2016, 7.00 pm. Doors open at 6.45 pm.
Location: Vancouver Public Library, Alma VanDusen Room, 350 W Georgia St., Vancouver BC V6B 6B1
Parking is available underground in the library building with entrance on Hamilton Street near Robson until midnight.
Refreshments: Complimentary following the event
RSVP: Registration is highly recommended as seating is limited. Please register at firstname.lastname@example.org by January 25, 2016, or at Event Brite: Link to the event: https://goo.gl/phAxTw
We look forward to seeing you at the event.
ARPICO – Society of Italian Researchers and Professionals in Western Canada
and The Dante Society of BC
Tickets are still available as of Jan. 27, 2016 at 1015 hours PST but you might want to hurry if you’re planning to register. *ETA Jan. 27, 2016 1150 hours PST, they are now putting people on a wait list.*
Vancouver conversations (Creating the New Vancouver)
There has been a great deal of discussion and controversy as Vancouverites become concerned over affordability and livability issues. The current political party ruling the City Council almost lost its majority position in a November 2014 election due to the controversial nature of the changes encouraged by the ruling party. The City Manager, Penny Ballem, was effectively fired September 2015 in what many saw as a response to the ongoing criticism over development issues. A few months later (November 2015) , the City’s chief planner abruptly retired. And, there’s more. (For the curious, you can start with Daniel Wood and his story on development plans on Vancouver’s downtown waterfront (Nov. 25, 2015 article for the Georgia Straight. You can also check out various stories on Bob Mackin’s website. Mackin is a local Vancouver journalist who closely follows the local political scene. There’s also Jeff Lee who writes for the Vancouver Sun newspaper and its ‘Civic Lee Speaking‘ blog but he does have a number of local human interest stories mixed in with his political pieces.)
Getting to the point: in the midst of all this activity and controversy, the Museum of Vancouver has opened a new exhibit, Your Future Home: Creating the New Vancouver,
From the Vancouver Urbanarium Society and the Museum of Vancouver comes the immersive and timely new exhibition, Your Future Home: Creating the New Vancouver.
As it explores the hottest topics in Vancouver today—housing affordability, urban density, mobility, and public space—Your Future Home invites people to discover surprising facts about the city and imagine what Vancouver might become. This major exhibition engages visitors with the bold visual language and lingo of real estate advertising as it presents the visions of talented Vancouver designers about how we might design the cityscapes of the future. Throughout the run of the exhibition, visitors can deepen their experience through a series of programs, including workshops, happy hours, and debates among architectural, real estate and urban planning experts.
Events & Programs
Vancouver Debates I – Wednesday, January 20 
How and where will Vancouver and its region accommodate increased population? In densifying neighborhoods, where do issues of fairness, democracy, ecology and community preservation come into play? Should any areas be off limits? Hosted by Urbanarium. Featuring Joyce Drohan (pro), Brent Toderian (pro), Sam Sullivan (con), Michael Goldberg (con).
Built City Speaker Series II – Thursday, February 11 
The world’s industrial design processes are becoming more precise, more computerized and more perfect. In contrast, buildings are still hand-made, imperfect and almost crude. D’Arcy Jones will present recent studio work, highlighting their successes and failures in the pursuit of craft within the limits of contemporary construction. Visual artist, Germaine Koh’s public interventions and urban situations cultivate an active citizenry through play and conceptual provocation. She will present Home Made Home, her project for building small dwellings, which promotes DIY community building and creative strategies for occupying urban space. More Info.
Talk & Tours
Intimate conversations with designers, architects and curators during tours of the exhibition.
The most edutaining night of the week. Have a drink, watch a presentation. MOV combines learning with a fun, tsocial experience.
Out & About Walking Tours
Explorations of Vancouver architecture and infrastructure, led by urban experts.
Design Sundays Group Workshops
A series of workshops in April  discussing the exhibition’s themes of housing affordability, urban density, mobility, and public space.
Interestingly and strangely, there’s no mention or discussion in the exhibit plans of the impact technology and science may have on Vancouver’s future even though the metropolitan area is abuzz with various science and technology startups and has two universities (University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University) with considerable investment in science and technology studies.
Finally, it seems no matter where you live, the topic of ‘cities’ and their roles in our collective futures is of urgent interest.