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BUSINESS NEWS NEW RESEARCH FINDS ESCALATING URBAN CHALLENGES AND THE NEED FOR CITIES TO BECOME FUTURE-READY Social, economic, and environmental disruptions, heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic, are radically altering the expectations and behaviors of citizens, requiring urban leaders around the world to develop action plans to become future-ready. ThoughtLab, a global research firm, and Hatch, a global engineering, project management, and professional services firm, have joined forces with a broad coalition of business, government, and academic experts to provide city leaders with a blueprint for future success. Titled Building a Future-Ready City , the newly released study findings show what it means to be future-ready, and what cities need to do to get there. To analyze how cities are future-proofing their urban environments, ThoughtLab, together with Hatch Urban Solutions, conducted a worldwide benchmarking study of 200 cities – representing 5 percent of the world population. They also surveyed 2,000 citizens in 20 worldwide cities to assess the alignment between city strategies and citizen expectations. To gain qualitative insights, ThoughtLab interviewed city leaders about their plans and held meetings with a global cadre of urban experts.

The most successful metro areas, according to the study, will be those that have clear long-term visions and plans for transforming themselves into future- ready cities with the ability to meet dramatic shifts in citizen behaviors and urban solutions. To assess the future-readiness of cities, the study investigated each city’s progress across digital infrastructure, transportation, living and health, and other critical urban domains, as well as the level of transformation each city believed it required to meet future urban demands. In addition to self-reported data from cities, ThoughtLab and Hatch economists included data from trusted secondary sources to develop a pioneering future-ready index. The study examined many pivotal areas of future-readiness. The top areas where future-ready cities reporting having made the most progress include driving digital transformation; building resilience and agility; using technology and data to improve decision-making; adapting to citizen needs around health and safety; building trust and transparency; empowering communities and citizens; and building global economic, political and trade connections. The research shows general alignment between city leaders and citizens, but

also some major gaps in views. Both groups see climate change as the greatest challenge facing cities and agree on the need for major urban transformation. They concur that affordable housing, homelessness, and public health should be high on urban agendas. But citizens see inadequate infrastructure, income inequality, and, particularly, low trust in government as bigger problems than cities do. And while 78 percent of cities believe they are well prepared to overcome these challenges in the future, only 39 percent of citizens agree. The study identified the main mechanisms that cities are using to implement their future-ready city strategies and achieve better results, but for many cities, becoming future-ready is easier said than done. Cities face resource challenges around unclear returns on investment, shortage of skills, and budget constraints; technology headaches around finding the right suppliers and the pace of technology change; and political pain points around governance complexity and administration transition. Despite the hurdles, the study shows that cities are ramping up their technology investments across all key urban domains. Cities intend to spend $422 million on average cumulatively over the next five years, or about $570 per citizen.

be productive; is it something you would want to hear if you were in their situation? When completing project post-mortems, the number one cause given for project failures is lack of proactive communication. Strong connections lead to strong communications lead to successful outcomes. “Connections begin by reaching out, building a team, asking for In conclusion, maintaining connections in the workplace relies on our ability to listen, understand, and respond in a supportive and respectful manner. And building or maintaining those connections starts with each and every one of us. Kevin Bertrand is a project controls manager at SCS Engineers. Contact him at help, researching, and analyzing the possibilities presented. It’s what we do as we journey through life that can lead to enduring connections.”

KEVIN BERTRAND, from page 9

Share an experience you’ve had that shows some vulnerability and understanding of their situation. Nothing builds trust more than demonstrating empathy toward others. 3. Offer support. As consultants, we should always listen for ways we can support our colleagues and clients. With colleagues, is there a way we can help with something, or offer a different perspective without judgement? With clients, can we offer examples of similar situations and how a successful outcome was achieved? Each situation will offer opportunities to serve and support others. 4. Self-care. It is important that we come as our best self to each interaction. That means that we are taking steps to care for ourselves physically and mentally. When we feel good, it’s evident to the people around us and leaves a favorable impression on them about our character. 5. Respect. It is important to think before we speak. What pressure has this colleague/client been under, what are they really asking of us? They may just need a listening ear. Think about your response. Is it framed in a way that will

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