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Chicago Forum on Global Cities reveals opportunities and challenges

Keith Williams, CEO, UL, discusses new technology at the 2018 Chicago Forum on Global Cities, Bill Hoffman discusses sustainability on the carbon panel at the Chicago Forum on Global Cities

June 19, 2018

The Chicago Forum on Global Cities brings together mayors, academics, NGOs and industry from around the world to share learnings and best practices in addressing the challenges faced by cities today. Keith Williams, CEO, UL, had the opportunity to speak at the forum and explore some of these pressing challenges and potential solutions. His observations follow:

-Housing will continue to be a significant challenge for cities. A lack of affordable housing already exists with future predictions of unprecedented growth—66 percent of the world’s population will be urban by 2050. Housing policy can have profound effects on a city, impacting socioeconomics, transportation and congestion. Smart planning combined with integrated policies play an essential role in addressing these challenges. Standards will also play a role in helping to drive interoperability across systems, enabling better data capture to improve decision making for cities.

-Advances in transportation technology are changing the way cities plan, build and design for the future. These technological advances could improve air quality, reduce congestion and increase the livability of a city, but to utilize its promise cities must fully understand a new technology’s potential, as well as its limitations. Knowledge-based decisions can help inform decision processes that support, and effectively use transportation technology.

-The Internet of Things (IoT) is freeing up resources to solve other municipal challenges by enabling cities to automate many processes, from smart meters monitoring for water leaks to smart grids that reduce energy use while adapting to their environments. As cities become smarter, they open themselves up to new vulnerabilities lurking in technologies depths.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the energy domain has suffered more malicious invasions of information technology, more cyber-attacks, than any other part of U.S. critical infrastructure. Cities must partner with the private sector to understand these vulnerabilities and how to address them, as discussed by the Chicago Council’s Karen Weigert together with UL’s Ken Boyce in Cities, Energy, and Security.

[caption id="attachment_32922" align="alignright" width="453"]Bill Hoffman discusses sustainability on the carbon panel at the Chicago Forum on Global Cities Bill Hoffman, right, speaks before attendees at the Chicago Forum on Global Cities.[/caption]

-Sustainability is at the top of minds for many mayors as they seek to reduce waste, improve air quality, build up resilience and lessen their contribution to global warming. In a panel discussion on the Quest for Carbon Neutrality, UL’s sustainability research scientist Bill Hoffman together with USG CEO Jennifer Scanlon discussed the importance of zero waste and how industry can leverage sustainability-related standards to help cities achieve their carbon-neutral objectives.

Utilizing new technologies to improve the quality of life for citizens requires the will and action of all. Bringing together stakeholders from across industry, NGO’s and government is critical to developing solutions. Cities can help advance progress by communicating with competence, integrity and transparency while consistently encouraging civic engagement and leveraging public-private-partnerships to solve the greatest challenges.