Get the Gist on Optimizing Cities

By 2050, two thirds of us will live, work, and play in cities. At the same time, climate change may intensify extreme weather to the point that the costs of recovery could increase by up to 10 times more than today. How cities around the world utilize technology to confront population growth and climate change will determine the strength of the global economy and redefine demographics.

What is changing?

Our latest Gist, Optimizing Cities, begins by exploring the future of cities with regards to population growth and climate change.


Then, the focus switches to three ways cities are exploring to optimize their urban space for improved livability and sustainability: smart cities, repurposed urban spaces, and urban farming. These are three of the primary technologies opening new markets and disrupting old models while mitigating stress on city planning.

The gist will help you quickly assess the future of the trends and more sustainably plan for opportunities and contingencies. A sample from the gist:

The Population is Expanding
As late as 1800, only 3% of the world’s population lived in cities, but in 2008 the global urban population surpassed 50%. By 2030 the UN expects that number to reach 60% and 66% by 2050. Megacities, urban areas with a population of 10 million or more, have grown from two in 1970 to ten in 1990 to 28 in 2014.

  1. Almost all urban population growth will take place in poor and emerging countries.
  2. Approximately 53% of global urban population is projected to live in Asia and around 23% in Africa.
  3. By 2030, the world’s global urban areas are expected to equal a total land area that’s more than twice the size of the US state of Texas – more than 1.5 million square kilometres.
  4. The continued growth of cities will mean a rise of more powerful city-states or city-regions.
  5. And the explosive growth of cities is an economic opportunity with the potential to lift billions out of poverty
  1. Urbanization and globalization are synergistic drivers reinforcing each other’s significance, and by 2025, the world’s top 100 most populous cities will contribute 35% of global GDP.
  2. At the center of all this economic activity will be regional hubs that cater to the needs of their surrounding region and facilitate the connection to the global economy.
  3. The sheer scale of urban challenges will drive expanded knowledge exchanges between cities.
  4. All cities will need to prepare long-term strategies for growth in order to ensure that they become or remain competitive.
  5. However, the full potential of engineering and technology to contribute to more sustainable cities will not be achieved by reducing all urban questions to engineering problems.


We conclude the Gist with an alternate scenario for our readers to consider the issues with which future cities may contend. The scenario is an extreme case but useful for thinking around the issues involved in successful city planning. You can use it to explore other plausible futures for cities and develop strategies relevant for your organization. If you think you may need help with this process, pleaseclick here to find out how Shaping Tomorrow can offer you a more comprehensive product.

For Gist Subscribers

You should have received your copy of the Gist already. Please check your spam folder, and contact us ASAP if you still cannot find it. Also, please feel free to tell us how we are doing with the gists or how they could improve.


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