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Published on 23 de January, 2017 at Cities and Regions

Why cities matter? Production of ideas is the key factor

By Pol Solà
2 min read

Edward Glaeser wrote the book “Triumph of the City. How urban spaces make us humans” in 2011. He wondered why Humanity is becoming urban, and the answer is because urban density provides the clearest path from poverty to prosperity. An urban revolution is taking place without the industrialization process, as it was in ninetieth and twentieth century Western World.

Technological changes make the world more than flat, actually it is paved, and a new Golden Age of the cities is yet to come. Where is the engine of that strong found? The key factor is production of ideas.

Human interaction is enhanced in the city, where people gather to produce and consume, because of proximity. Glaeser defines the city as the absence of physical space between people and companies. More specifically, between people and organizations. The fact is that proximity has become even more valuable as the cost of connecting long distances has fallen due to technological change. According to Glaeser, “Cities have grown because technological change has increased the return to the knowledge that is best produced by people in close proximity to other people”. Moreover, the reason why companies put up with the high labour and land costs of being in a city is that it creates productivity advantages that easily offset those costs.

Following the thesis of Richard Florida, Glaeser also confirms that cities play an even more critical role as gateways between cultures and markets through talent concentration and agglomeration of firms and skilled citizens. Cities depend on their ability to innovate through knowledge spread.

Cities matter, and they specially do with the coming of knowledge society. It does not exist a stablished and competitive major League of Cities, but inevitably some rankings have arisen. This is the case of the fDi Strategy Awards from Financial Times. We can find examples of cities that are performing well such as Barcelona, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Manchester, Nottingham, Chicago, London, Eindhoven and Tel Aviv.

U·Trans is aware that cities and regions are the place where we can find the nodes of knowledge society, where the interaction among production, creativity, knowledge, social demands and innovative solution takes place. Therefore, cities and regions should adopt that perspective when thinking about its future and global positioning in order to stay ahead of the game.

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