Urban Co-Development Network Launched by Mastercard

December 12, 2018

Mastercard has launched a unique global network for urban co-development. The program, City Possible, will convene cities to collaborate on common challenges, through a new public-private partnership model. A highlight of the the program is the availability of learning exchanges for city Chief Information Officers (CIOs), to be run by the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard (TECH). The network was announced during the recent Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona. As part of its City Possible program, Mastercard is connecting cities with academia and businesses to identify common issues that can be best addressed through collaboration.

Sixteen cities are becoming founding members of the global City Possible network – representing a diverse mix of geography and size, according to a news release which detailed the City Possible program. Those following American cities involved include: Aurora, IL; Baltimore, MD; Kansas City, MO; San Diego, CA; and Altamonte Springs, FL. Other global cities include: Athens, Dubai, Dublin, Helsinki, Melbourne, Prague, as well as the Greater Sydney communities of Campbelltown, Canterbury Bankstown, Liverpool, and Wollondilly. The network is open for additional cities to join.

“The superpower of cities is their freedom to collaborate – allowing them to build on each other’s progress”, says Miguel Gamiño, who heads up global city partnerships for Mastercard. “By bringing together city leaders from across the globe, City Possible promotes the sharing of ideas and best practices – aimed at advancing more connected and inclusive urban communities,” noted Gamiño, adding, “What unites all our public, private and academic partners is their commitment to make technology work for all people, and finding scalable solutions for universal needs.”

The announcement, made on November 19 during the global event, was well-received by urban leaders from around the globe. Feedback on the City Possible program from cities across the country showed strong enthusiasm for the Mastercard initiative, including the following comments from Mayors in Kansas City, Aurora and Baltimore.

“Kansas City is proud to partner with Mastercard and civic leaders from around the world to develop smart and sustainable solutions to chronic problems that all mayors face: education, economic opportunity and civic efficiency,” said Sly James, Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri. James, who hired Chief Innovation Officer Bob Bennett in 2016, added, “‘Smart Cities’ solutions and programs are not about technology – they are about people, and how we can use technology as a tool to improve the quality of life for our residents and visitors.” Mayor James added, “We are excited to be part of the global network of City Possible communities that are collaborating to use tech and policy as complementary tools to establish 21st Century Communities for 21st Century Citizens.”

“The City of Aurora is honored to collaborate with private and public innovators to help solve a variety of challenges from public safety, economic development and digital equality through the use of smart technology,” said Aurora, IL Mayor Richard Irvin. He added, “Successful innovation is greater than just technology alone. It requires the ability to generate ideas from across the board and the proven capacity to implement them for improved City services.”

“As one of the United States’ oldest urban cities, we strive daily to provide a modern, safe and equitable environment for our residents and visitors,” said Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh. As such, we are honored to serve as a founding member of Mastercard’s City Possible initiative which will not only give us the unique opportunity to collaborate with other cities and discuss our common challenges but to actually identify possible solutions that can be scaled and implemented worldwide.”

Harvard TECH Learning Exchanges

As a key component of City Possible, Mastercard is partnering with the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard University (TECH), which will host a series of programs to foster a regular learning exchange among global city leaders. The first convening will took place at Smart City Expo in Barcelona, which was held mid-November. It focused on urban planning, mobility services and data insights. Participants in the learning exchange will also have access to an online community where they can continue the dialogue with their peers.

“As urban areas around the world continue to grow, cities face common issues – how to provide a healthy environment, safety, affordability and economic opportunity for their communities”, says Prof. David S. Ricketts, fellow at TECH. “Faced with limited resources and competing priorities, city leaders look for solutions that have been tested elsewhere,” added Ricketts, noting, “Through our learning exchanges, we want to equip CIOs and other urban leaders to better navigate this dynamic environment.”

City-to-City Collaboration and the Power of P3s

According to Mastercard’s City Possible program coordinators, when the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by the United Nations in 2015, they called for “making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.” In order to accelerate local level delivery of the SDGs, the United Nations Global Compact Cities Programme will work with City Possible. Through the collaboration with Mastercard, participating cities can access the City Possible network to identify shared challenges and seek sustainable business models to address them.

“Knowledge sharing and robust relationship building between the private sector, civil society, and local and territorial governments is vital for achieving the SDGs — and this mind-set sits at the heart of the Local 2030 initiative,” commented Michael Nolan, director of the Global Compact Cities Programme. “We are thrilled at the opportunity to work with Mastercard through their City Possible program to build the capacity of our city partners to create transformative projects that can attract investment and advance local delivery of the Global Goals,” Nolan added.

Once key challenges that are shared by cities across the globe have been identified, City Possible will provide a framework for co-creating, testing and scaling solutions – connecting cities with private sector players that are equally committed to people-centered design. By closely collaborating with companies such as Microsoft, HERE Technologies and now also IDEMIA, Mastercard works to address urban challenges in a more holistic way.

“As the global leader in Augmented Identity, IDEMIA has the ambition to provide a secure environment enabling citizens and consumers alike to perform their daily critical activities such as pay, connect, travel and vote in the physical as well as digital space,” said Nathalie Oestmann, SVP Global Innovation Strategy for Financial Institutions activities at IDEMIA. Oestmann further noted, “We look forward to building on our long-standing relationship with Mastercard in order to shape future banking and payment experiences in an increasingly urbanized world.”

One of the areas that exemplifies the advantages of city-to-city collaboration is public transit. After Mastercard had helped Transport for London (TfL) to transform its ticketing system by introducing contactless technology in 2014, cities around the world including Sydney, Singapore, Vancouver, Boston and New York have adopted or embraced solutions that are using the same global standard, noted the program overview. According to the news release, other areas where cities and people could benefit from greater efficiency and better, more inclusive experiences include the disbursement of social benefits, and a unified access to municipal services.




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