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SmartWorlds is here, your forum for spurring change

SmartWorlds is here,
your forum for spurring change

TACKLING GLOBAL CHALLENGES WITH URGENCY AND OPTIMISM

by ROB McMANAMY | June 5, 2015

The fuse has been lit. Last night, at the end of international architect Peter Ellis's visionary presentation on "Restructuring American Cities", BuiltWorlds' co-founder Matt Abeles announced the new SmartWorlds Initiative, an ambitious, long-term, multimedia effort that aims to spur constructive dialogue, create collaborative connections, and lead directly to crucial action that frankly cannot be put off any longer.

"SmartWorlds is a multi-track series of interactive events, set over several months, that will mobilize the brightest, most creative minds in the built environment to address the most compelling challenges of our day," said Abeles. "Clean air, water, energy, infrastructure -- the sustainability of our very planet rests on us, the people who develop, design, build, and maintain our built worlds."

Ellis last night at BuiltWorlds, lighting the fire.

Ellis last night at BuiltWorlds, lighting the fire.

With that in mind, the SmartWorlds Initiative plans to foster inter-disciplinary engagement and leverage our collective assets to collaborate aggressively on innovative solutions for our aging cities as only our diverse and brilliant industry can. To do this, we will draw on the eloquence and passion of accomplished industry thought leaders, including Ellis, to inspire us to overcome our inertia with ingenuity, our concern with confidence.

"I think we are at the tipping point now," Ellis said last night. "So the time to act is now, and we have to get it right this time."

Joining Ellis in leading this effort to transform cities are two other visionaries: John Tolva, former chief technology officer for the City of Chicago and now president of PostivEnergy Practice; and Paul Doherty, globetrotting Smart Cities evangelist, and president and CEO of The Digit Group Inc., Memphis TN. "I am proud to be part of such an esteemed group," said Tolva, a nationally known digital wiz, who led IBM's 'Big Data' efforts before serving as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel's tech maestro. "This is an important effort, launched at an absolutely critical time."

SmartWorlds apostles (from left): Peter (Ellis), John (Tolva), and Paul (Doherty). Who will join them?

For his part, Doherty is equally enthused and impassioned. "This is a moment of extraordinary global opportunity and I love what BuiltWorlds is doing here," he says. "There are incredible things happening all over the world right now, but we have to share these lessons."

In many ways. those words encapsulate what this effort, and even what BuiltWorlds, itself, is all about. "We spent the 20th Century creating these specialized silos, and erecting all this infrastructure  of associations and conferences around each one -- one for architects, one for engineers, for contractors, for subcontractors, and so on," said BuiltWorlds founder Matt Gray, in addressing our audience last night. "But as long as we live in these silos, we can't think holistically about the built worlds that we all create. So, that is what we are trying to do here, create a playing field where everyone can come together to build a better way."

As long as we live in these silos, we can’t think holistically about the built worlds that we all create.
— Matt Gray, BW founder

Toward that point, Ellis added, "When we come out of these silos and interact with others, that is when innovation happens."

Exactly. And that is why our SmartWorlds Initiative was launched. To get people out of their silos and talking to each. Our next event right now is Future Mobility, set for July 23, which will focus on urban transportation ideas, including everything from driverless vehicles and bicycle sharing to hover-board job site deliveries and the Hyperloop commuter tube.

Can't be in Chicago for one of our events? We'll be streaming them online, so watch for more details to come. And Ellis, Doherty, and Tolva (whom we like to call Peter, Paul and John) are just the start. We expect more thought leaders from many more regions and nations to join this borderless effort along the way. And toward that end, we encourage all of you to spread the word and to share our news. And please contact us with your ideas, as well. Send us your thoughts. Contribute articles. Consider us your conduit.

After all, the time is now. The urgency is real. And the job is ours. So stop looking around for someone else to fix the future. No one is better equipped to solve the problems of the built environment today than we are, the ones who actually have the blueprints.

New vision: BuiltWorlds founder Matt Gray last month addressing the British Council for Offices in Chicago.

New vision: BuiltWorlds founder Matt Gray last month addressing the British Council for Offices in Chicago.

For more information on how to be a part of this effort, contact Jared Gonsky, SmartWorlds Director at jared.gonsky@builtworlds.com

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