Meeting Of The Minds Turns 10, Looks To The Future

November 03, 2016

An annual gathering of thought leaders in urban fields, last week’s Meeting of the Minds annual summit attracted attendees from across the world to Richmond, California. The three-day event ran from Tuesday evening to Thursday night, offering networking events, hands-on workshops and panels focusing on a plethora of urban issues.

This being the tenth iteration of Meeting of the Minds, the show kept one foot in the past even while eyeing the future. Held in a repurposed Ford Motor Co. assembly plant, the summit’s final panel discussed how quickly technology has progressed since the very first Meeting of the Minds, ten years ago.

“It’s amazing how quickly things change,” Ford’s Sustainability and Advanced Technology Manager Jonathan H. Coleman said.

But visions of the future are what the summit is really about, and this year’s show focused on how the world will change as cities take on a larger role. To that end, Coleman argued that disruption would define the next ten years of urban development.

“People who can break down silos and expand boundaries will be running the world ten years from now,” he said.

Those directives were in full force during the workshops, as attendees were able to connect and converse around a variety of issues. Panels ranged from homelessness solutions to green infrastructure to cloud computing, each speaker bringing perspectives on how cities should progress in the future. Even lunch tables were organized by guided discussion topic.

The panels, too, exemplified an attitude of change. Many of the morning panels on Oct. 27 tackled inclusive innovation, the speakers offering advice on how to ensure that smart city and tech developments incorporate a multitude of perspectives.

Panels on employment and transportation similarly urged change. Toyota representatives touted zero-emissions vehicles and predicted that autonomous cars will allow us to change the way planners utilize space in cities. Another speaker, Sandhya Anantharaman, spoke a great decoupling of work and income, saying that a new social contract based on universal income would democratize opportunity. In these cases and more, innovators and leaders reimagined what the world would look like as smart cities move from concept to reality.

For more insights and impressions from Meeting of the Minds 2016, check out the social media feed below and upcoming video interviews.

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