Business leaders in Bradford and Leeds were given stark reminders recently of the importance of technology and developing people skills if their cities are to keep up (catch up?) with the competition.
A Chamber of Commerce construction lunch received presentations on so-called ‘Smart Cities’ and ‘Magnet Cities’, in which case studies of smaller and less influential metropolitan areas have reinvented and regalvanised themselves to make them forces to be reckoned with. Denver, Malmo and Bilbao are among nine included in a KPMG report on ‘Magnet Cities’ that have turned themselves around. BT’s study of ‘Future Cities’, attendees were told, shows how business leaders and politicians need to ‘get smart’ in the use of ‘sensing technology’ and ‘big data’. This, then, would allow fast-growing populations to be matched with higher economic development, prompt physical renewal and better connectivity.
BT’s Tom Baker spelled out how the next decade would see “unparalled change” in city population growth. KPMG’s Justine Andrew and Jonathan Turton noted how cities were now built on people and skills, rather than on trade or mineral resources. The UN has predicted that the proportion of the world’s population living in cities will rise from 50% now to 70% by 2050. BT’s report predicts a “trilemma” for successful future cities of demand trends, supply-side constraints and affordability.
Magnet cities, said the KPMG pair, attract young wealth creators, have a definable identity and undergo constant physical renewal. The event was held in Bradford’s Cedar Court Hotel, and chaired by Presidents Paul Mackie and Gerald Jennings.
Mike Cartwright from the Chamber said: “It was useful to get some of the latest thinking on these concepts. Politicians and senior civil servants are all grappling with how to deliver more service with less resource and how to get ahead of the game. If business leaders can get involved in taking their cities forward while still managing their own organisations, they will do. The idea of hearing about these concepts now was to see what more can be done for Bradford and Leeds to work closer together.”