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Future of Cities 2024 Program

Recorded Sessions for Wharton-Weitzman Future of Cities 2024

Fireside Chat: Shaping Our Cities: In Conversation with Senior Leaders

By 2050, 2/3rds of the world will live in cities; in the U.S., nearly 90% of the population will. Bigger cities require bigger projects. How is technology expanding our ability to address this demand while building more resilient, inclusive, and livable cities? Executives manage a myriad of stakeholders while also inspiring teams to dream up a better future. How they choose to lead quite literally shapes our lives.

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Leah Johnson | EVP, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

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Meera Joshi | Deputy Mayor for Operations, New York City


Thabo Lenneiye | Managing Director, Penn Praxis

Panel I: The ROI of Experimenting on an Urban Scale

Experimenting at the urban scale is equally necessary and risky. Grafting technologies onto existing infrastructures is critical to prototyping and building successful urban tech. Cities are also wary of inadvertently permitting tech graveyards all around town. How are technologies that need urban scale pilots to demonstrate product and market feasibility funded? What are the challenges to determining metrics of success, and when do experiments need to pivot? 

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Matthew Britt | Global GM Smart Cities, Honeywell

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Andrew Staniforth | CEO, Assembly OSM

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Isabelle Granahan-Field | Investor, Camber Creek


John Means | Partner, McKinsey & Company

Panel II: Nature as Technology in Building Urban Resilience

Unofficially, we are in the Anthropocene era. Officially, human activity is the most dominant influence on climate change. Biodiverse landscapes are dramatically transforming into urban environments, reducing their natural resilience to climate stressors. However, on the other side of the same coin, urban biodiversity offers crucial ecosystem services like heat island reduction, stormwater management, pollination, and carbon sequestration. How can we leverage the nexus of the built and natural worlds to build cities truly ready to withstand the test of time? What nature-based solutions are working to keep us and our planet safe?

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Andrew Rudd | Urban Environment Officer, UN-Habitat

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Catherine Seavitt | Chair, Weitzman School of Design, University of Pennsylvania

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Erica Smith-Fichman | Community Forestry Manager, Phl Parks & Rec

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Gena Wirth | Design Principal, SCAPE Landscape Architecture

Panel III: Advancing Mobility Through Collaborative Technology

In 2021, only 2.5% of U.S. commuters traveled with public transit. Enhancing our commutes, from work to concerts and everywhere in between, is critical to catalyzing an interconnected, equitable, and sustainable urban future. What are the emerging strategies, visionary policies, and inspiring success stories? How do technologies, from electric bikes to synthetic data, make these innovations possible? 

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Pamela Jennings | White House Presidential Innovation Fellow, DOT

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Grant Engel | Data Policy Manager, SEPTA

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Miguel Willis | Innovator in Residence, Penn’s Carey School of Law

Arthur Getman | Senior Engineer, Replica, Alphabet Inc.

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Laura Culp | Planning Manager, Bicycle Transit Systems (Indego)

Panel IV: Accelerating Progress Towards Carbon Zero

2050 is only 26 years away. Cities around the world are committing to achieving carbon-zero by then. While cities account for more than 70% of global carbon emissions, the world will continue to urbanize - for the better. Density also makes our cities vibrant, accessible, and often historic. But when 99% of future city visualizations look nothing like our cities today, what does the future city really look like? Especially when the future we seek to achieve is in our lifetimes. How will we adapt centuries-old buildings and urban systems to meet our modern energy and tech demands? 

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Dom McGraw | Deputy Director, City of Phl’s Office of Sustainability

David Klatt | President & COO, Logical Buildings

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Christian Kunkel | Director of Data Partnerships and Acquisition, BlocPower

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Christina Chu | Co-Founder, Solarpunks

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Bill Braham | Director, Center for Environmental Buildings + Design, Penn

Zell/Lurie Real Estate Center Distinguished Speaker


Spencer Levy | Global Client Strategist & Senior Economic Advisor, CBRE

Lightning Lectures

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James Pokluda | Federal Government Account Manager, Honeywell 

Demo I: itselectric

EV charging in cities is primarily an urban planning and design problem. However, the EV charging industry has not yet embraced these the challenges, and resulting in a huge backlog of unmet demand. it's electric Co-Founder/CEO Nathan King will discuss it's electric's "Cities First" approach to EV charging, and how the curbside charging vertical requires new business models and charging hardware. At this demo, you have the opportunity to Interact with an EV chargers live and get un upclose picture of how Curbside EV charging is changing the landscape of cities

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Nathan King | Co-Founder

Demo II: Spatial Pixel

Technology has been bringing screens closer and closer to us, dominating our attention, ultimately tearing us away from healthy social interactions and the city. We believe the most powerful capability emerging from artificial intelligence is its potential to get us back into the physical world, while maintaining the benefits of modern technologies. We use AI to unlock interactions that are truly spatial, present, and human. We’ll share our latest research on how spatial AI enables a future grounded in the tangible world and the opportunity it presents for cities. Our demo will demonstrate spatial AI allowing users to experiment with a variety of natural interactions like speaking and gesturing with an urban space. 

Violet Whitney | Co-Founder

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William Martin | Co-Founder

Demo III: Domestic Data Streamers

Domestic Data Streamers creates data experiments along with physical and digital exhibitions and resources to create change. Pau Garcia will be speaking about his work on creating Synthetic Memories in Sao Paulo which explores the application of Generative AI in reconstructing visual memories. This teaser highlights the process of converting conversations into images, focusing on the experiences of residents in São Paulo's Bom Retiro neighborhood. The project aims to bridge generational gaps and document stories through a novel technological lens.

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Pau Garcia | Co-Founder

Workshop IV: Office of Innovation and Technology, City of Philadelphia

Chris Shelley from the Philadelphia Office of Innovation and Technology will join us to speak about how his team is working towards piloting and integrating the latest urban innovations in Philadelphia's pubic spaces. After their presentation, Chris, along with his colleagues Andrew Buss and Tara Woody will have the opportunity to look at student research and provide feedback on how these projects could be brought to life and implemented into city plans.

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Chris Shelley | Smart Mobility

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