Student blog of the Stanford University Urban Studies Department

Global Problems, Global Solutions

Every city is unique, but many cities are plagued by the same problems.  I see the phrase “think globally, act locally,” and I can’t help but imagine all the global thoughts that are waiting for someone to put them into action. Living Labs Global, a non-profit based in Copenhagen does just that; it takes a city’s problem and matches it up with solutions proposed from all corners of the globe


At the beginning of May, the 3rd Annual Living Labs Global Awards Ceremony will take place in conjunction with the Rio [de Janeiro] Summit on Service Innovation in Cities. 21 cities have posted 21 very specific and detailed service challenges on the Living Labs Global website.  Any individual, non-profit, or business can propose a solution on the website. A team of city officials and global experts in the challenge “category” will wade through the proposals at the end of this month, and send some onto a second round where the solution-providers will be asked to beef up their proposals.

“This is not an ideas competition” clarified the general director of Living Labs Global, “it is an award for technology that can save our city tomorrow.” In other words, it is a competition about fitting a square peg into a square hole. Most importantly, that square peg can already be in use and thriving elsewhere. It doesn’t make sense for cities to constantly experiment with new systems when a sister city is already modeling a feasible and established option.


The 2011 Living Labs Global Competition awarded contracts to Barcelona, New Taipei City, San Francisco, Stockholm, and Lagos among others for categories including autonomous telehealthcare, smart parking for urban living, and venture capital funding.  This is definitely a competition and trend worth following…or participating in if you’ve got a solution.  

Photos from Living Labs Global flicker. 


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