Un-Visioning the Future of Cities

Dr. Geci Karuri-Sebina is a multi-disciplinary scholar-practitioner currently occupied in several capacities working at the intersection between people, place and technological change, focusing on the global south. We discuss her work, stakeholder collaboration, smart cities, inclusive cities, what she would change if she had a magic wand and her vision for cities in 2040.

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Key Takeaways

Introduction

  • Geci expands on her education, background, and work history:
  • Her involvement with South African Cities Network (SACN) and Singularity University.
  • She advises on the Current State of Cities Report with SACN.
  • We talk about the Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF) - iudf.co.za.

Stakeholder collaboration

  • We struggle with the urgency to get things done, for many it has been too long.
  • Some level of fatigue setting in with many city officials.
  • In the urban space, the agenda is not clear it keeps evolving and needs constant engagement.
  • Invest more in skill and facilitating stakeholder engagements.
  • We need more openness.
  • Realise it is for the long haul.

Her definition of a Smart City

  • First, focus on the contextualized vision of the city that you are in and find answers to imagination, governance, and the systems and processes you want to put in place.
  • Tech is an enabler.
  • Tech on its own can’t save us, it could however destroy us.
  • Geci uses Barcelona as an example of a great smart city.

How she would get us to inclusive cities if she was president

  • Empower people in the right positions that have inclusion on their agenda and that have the confidence and creativity to do it.
  • Geci further explains getting the ‘correct mix’ to enable inclusion.

What she would change if she had a magic wand

  • How government works in the extent to which officials feel they have space and the responsibility to be doing more.
  • Get people to understand that our futures are interlinked.

Her vision of cities in 2040

  • A couple of scenarios and not a single vision.
  • There is a chance it is more or less the trajectory we are on now.
  • There is a change we are doing things a bit better than now.
  • Geci explains 3 ideas she believes will get us to a future that looks different and more exciting:
  • New imaginaries.
  • New processes.
  • New institutions.

Advice for students

  • Jobs are changing and it is exciting times.
  • There is no predetermined road anymore.
  • Be bold and have an attitude of learning.
  • Be your conscious self in that learning moment.
  • The purpose of education is learning.
  • You can bring weird and wonderful things to this world.


About Geci Karuri-Sebina
Geci is a multi-disciplinary scholar-practitioner currently occupied in several capacities working at the intersection between people, place, and technological change, focusing on the global south. She is an Associate with South African Cities Network; an Adjunct Professor at the University of Cape Town’s African Centre for Cities; a Research Fellow at the Wits School of Governance; a global faculty member of Singularity University; and a curator in The Emergence Network. She is also involved in writing and editorial roles for a few international futures, innovation, and planning publications.

She holds Bachelors degrees in Computer Science and Sociology (Coe), Masters degrees in Architecture & Urban Design and Urban Planning (UCLA), and a Ph.D. in Urban Planning / Innovation Systems Studies (Wits)

Previously, Geci worked with various government and science council entities including South African Cities Network, National Treasury, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), and the UCLA Advanced Policy Institute. Geci also served as a panelist on the Ministerial Task Team on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, an expert advisor on the Presidential Task Team on Land Reform, the South African Council of Planners (SACPLAN), and the Johannesburg Development Agency board.

See: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gecik/

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