Hi Nicholas —
Really enjoy this topic, as a student of public policy and working in the ICT urban development space. I spend half of my time in Vancouver and Washington, DC and to me, while each city has its own set of challenges, the overall sense of community and collaboration borne out of dense urban environments lends a certain “x” factor to communities being more effective at solving issues and staying ahead of innovation gaps. Cities can catalyze people to act on opportunities that they would have never realized existed without having access to different human networks in the first place.
This rings true with your note on social innovation. I really believe there is power in providing safe, collaborative spaces where people can have genuine conversations and meet other passionate people that are seeking unique solutions to challenges that may or may not affect their direct urban community. I would submit that one would be hard-pressed to find such conducive environments in a non-urban setting. We are seeing waves of “co-working” spaces take hold in major cities and to tie this back to my personal experience: I know that I can go to a co-working space in Vancouver on a Monday and end up in a co-working space in Washington on a Friday and still have access to a forum where people are truly getting together to enact positive change through technology. Prosperity and wealth may ebb and flow, but urban communities will always keep cities alive and on the front-lines of innovation and change.