Cognetive Cities – a chat with Igor Schwarzmann

von Redaktion

proud met up with Igor Schwarzmann (27) from the digital strategy consultancy agency Third Wave, and Edial Dekker (26) from the interactive studio Your Neighbours. Together with some friends, they are organizing an event about the future of cities called the Cognitive Cities Conference. ‘Most research indicates that by 2050 75% of the global population will be living in urban environments, that’s why we need to start the conversation about them’, Schwarzmann says.

Why did you become interested in this topic?

Igor: We’ve been involved in the global conversation about the future of cities for some years now. Having carefully watched recent developments, we got more and more into it, so we started documenting interesting articles on a blog called Cognitive Cities. We became interested in the idea to see cities as hubs where you can see different kind of patterns emerging. One of the things that’s more apparent in big cities, is creativity for example. Which especially true for Berlin.

Edial: We moved from Amsterdam to Berlin a little more than and we were immediately very interested to see how Berlin works. When we started to have a closer look at how people interact with the city, we could not help thinking about the role of technology in this. So we started mapping people and different information exchanges such as the movement of goods, personal contacts, interactions and telecommunication. Organizing an event around this topic was the next logical step.

Why is this moment in time so crucial for the future of cities?

Igor: By 2050 the global population will rise to about 9 billion people and 75% of them will be living in cities or urban sprawls. This is huge. And on the other hand, we can already see a lot failed cities, who were not able to handle the amount of inhabitants. So, it’s crucial that we get a better understanding of cities and that we start the conversation in Germany.

Edial: This discussion is useless if we do not acknowledge the role of technology has in our daily lives. With the Cognitive Cities, we hope we can contribute to think of better ways to create a bet- ter city experience by looking at it from a multidisciplinary perspective.

What kind of topics will you cover at the event?

Igor: We have invited people from very different disciplines to talk and attend the conference. We have invited designers, technologists, politicians, scientists and artists to speak at the conference and they will cover as much ground as they can in the two days of the conference. Some of things they will talk about , are things like urban gardening, sustainability, energy consumption, transportation and a lot more topics that have are important.

Edial: The first day is all about learning, listening and starting the conversation about the future of cities. The second day, which will have a free entrance, there will exhibitions, walk-/ workshops, film screenings, startup crawls and much more around the district of Kreuzberg. The second day will be more about doing things, instead of only listening and getting inspired.

For who would the conference be of interest?

Igor: I’d say, anybody who is living in a city! But sure, it’s a conference for people who are somehow involved in the conversation already. Be it through their job or just out of pure interest for the topic. If you are someone who is interested in the future of cities. While it’s a very global conversation, we will try to zoom-in on a more local level. It’s very important for us that everybody has some take-aways, no matter how deeply involved or still fresh to the topic you are. We will leave enough room in the program to digest the information and converse over the inspiration.

Edial: So far, we sold more than 150 tickets. More than 40% of the people are coming from outside Germany and the woman / male ratio is about 50/50 – which is very rare for events like this and makes us very excited about the event.

What are you working on right now?

Igor: We are wrapping up the schedule of the first day and we’re looking for contributing partners for the second day. Then of course, there is a lot of production such as things around the venue, media, coffee, speakers and a very big list of other things.

Edial: We’re putting a lot of energy in all the details of the event like the kind of food that we offer, in order to create an amazing experience for all the attendees. And yeah, you are welcome to be there!

More information:

Cognitive Cities Conference

26 & 27 February 2011, Berlin


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