VERGE Day 2: The city as startup, platform and organism

Editor's Note: To read highlights from the first day of VERGE SF on Nov. 12, click here.

Over the next 15 years, China will build enough buildings and infrastructure for 300 million people -- an amount that could service almost the entire U.S. population.

It’s a pace that reflects the staggering rate of global urbanization -- one that’s placed cities at the center of efforts for sustainable solutions. Currently, half of the world’s population lives in cities. Seventy-five percent of the population will live in urban areas by 2050.

The global migration and consequent rise of the world’s urban population point to the giant potential for gains at the city level.

“Cities need sustainability just as much as sustainability needs cities,” said Mark Lee, the executive director of SustainAbility,  on Tuesday morning at GreenBiz Group’s VERGE SF conference in San Francisco, Calif. The meeting aimed to further the conversation -- and accelerate the action -- around sustainable communities through the convergence of building, vehicle and information technologies.

Lee’s remark set the tone for the second day of VERGE SF -- a day focused on how cities have become the place to leverage gains in energy efficiencies, scale sustainability goals and develop more informed, revitalized communities. Through open data and the convergence of technologies, municipal governments, business, hackers and concerned citizens are working together to develop the “smart city.” It’s a place that uses data and technology as a way to predict and plan -- rather than react -- to events ranging from a daily traffic jam to a devastating natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy or Katrina.

Photo of SustainAbility Executive Director Mark Lee (L) and Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh (R) at VERGE SF by Goodwin Ogbuehi, GreenBiz Group

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