Business

Exploring The Rise of “Nomad Cities”

JT chats with Journalist and Cities Expert Greg Lindsay

John Thomey
John Thomey
Feb 25, 2021
Exploring The Rise of “Nomad Cities”
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Good morning! Happy Urban Tech Thursday. 

This week’s edition is super special for me. I got to chat with one of my personal heroes for this week’s edition and podcast. I chatted with Greg Lindsay. 

Before diving in too far, an ✨ Urban Tech product updates tease ✨ :

 The last several months, while working on content on the public-facing side of UT, I’ve been working to figure how to take Urban Tech to even higher levels of quality. This space only deserves the best after all!

Some incredibly smart friends (some are even part of the Urban Tech community!) and I think we have the gameplan ready, and so it’s looking like next week is when I’ll start to be able to share details.

All to say: just keep your eyes open for some 🔥 updates next week. If you want a little early preview of what’s to come, feel free to email me or hit reply, and I can probably share a couple more details than the vagueness that I just shared.

But enough about UT and our work, today is about all the incredible work Greg Lindsay is doing! For those in our community unfamilari with Greg’s work, here’s his bio:

Greg Lindsay is a journalist, urbanist, futurist, and speaker. He is the director of applied research at NewCities and director of strategy at its mobility offshoot CoMotion.  He is also a partner at FutureMap, a geo-strategic advisory firm based in Singapore, a non-resident senior fellow of The Atlantic Council’s Foresight, Strategy, and Risks Initiative, and co-author of Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next.

Exploring The Rise of “Nomad Cities”

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JT: Greg, I'm super excited that I get to chat with you. I used to work on the comp side; I don't want to embarrass you too much. You are someone who helped me understand urbanism issues and challenges. So thank you for taking the time to come chat.

GL: No, it's my pleasure to be on here. You're running one of the best Urban podcasts and newsletters around.

JT: No, I don't want even to take that. I'm super humbled by you saying that but thank you.

To start, I'd love it if maybe you could talk a bit about your work with remote work hubs. That's a big issue to many readers and listeners to the podcast who are thinking about “where innovation is going to go.” 

Do you think it's like a Miami diaspora and everyone's going to go there from San Francisco and New York, or what's going on?

GL: There's so much to talk about here. So a couple of ideas. I followed your last podcast with Bradley Tusktalking about this, and I've been chatting with many people.

Everyone else has been falling discussion about like where's everyone to go. And so the first thing to say is the absolute numbers are not crazy. It's not like everybody's abandoned these cities. It's like upticks of three to five percentage points, which are of course massively meaningful for everything.

But it's not like everything is. And second, I would point out I wrote a report that came out in 2020 on millennials and where they would move for new cities, and I believe that the trends that are going to happen over the next decade are happening all at once.

The whole accelerationist impulse of the pandemic is happening. There were like, yeah; they would leave coastal cities for cheaper housing markets in the Sunbelt. And that's what's happened, which is. I would argue perhaps a bad thing in the long run because I've also been working on stuff around climate migration. Like, people are leaving places that are more resilient to climate change to go to places that are less resilient to climate change, notably Austin, which of course, has had to deal with a weather disaster or climate disaster.

JT: I live in Southern California, and obviously, we're dealing with our climate change narrative on the West Coast that's very different.

GL: Then the West Coast, when I come back to it, I've had multiple conversations with this about I think people ultimately you will leave San Francisco not be there's the housing issue, but also because any given year, there's going to be a week of wildfires where you can't breathe.

What does it do for raising families there and things like that? So that is a whole, as a longer-term ticking time bomb with the fire season. Then, this is the thing about the Miami trend that I just can't get over. It was like all of the reading; all these VCs write lengthy essays about how California is broken and had done this in-depth analysis of where to move.

And then they moved to Miami without ever mentioning climate change. At least the smart ones said the taxes. But there you go. Yes, I've been following all of that, but I think the remote work thing is definitely going to happen. In some regards, I've been talking with people involved with that, like super-smart people like Mark Gilbert at Liquidspace, who for years has been building the tools to allow remote work or have multiple workspaces.

And I know I, without giving too much away, that he's hearing from all these companies now planning those plans. So I think that's going to happen. And to me, there's a couple of impacts where that goes. So once I've been talking to developers, for example, who were involved in Common, the coliving company.

They did this brilliant maneuver of putting out an RFP for people to design multifamily housing with workspaces for remote work and I think it's really interesting. It's not just apartments with home workspaces, but bookable conference rooms in the space.

Other ideas are trying to partner with a local daycare to have onsite childcare, and I think that's interesting because we've unbundled the office, and we're now re-bundling it as part of housing. 

And then the other thing there about the larger scale, and this is a project I'm trying to initiate with NewCities is: What happens to the sort of second and third-tier cities like Tulsa or Bentonville, which have $10,000 bonuses to attract skilled workers?

If you moved there, what happens to them to compete against Miami where you've got the CEO of SoftBank putting out a hundred million dollars for startups, and so that's something that we're trying to put together. These secondary and third-tier cities need to have their lightweight tools to attract people. The other piece of that, which I think is interesting, is it's not all just about low taxes and beaches, right?

There's a certain breed of person that attracts, and it seems similar in trends to the Estonian e-visa program.

JT: Can you explain that just a little bit only in case some people don't know? I love the stuff that is happening there, but I’m a big nerd and I’m not sure everyone reading is up to date on Estonia’s work.

GL: Of course, if you haven't followed the Estonian story and still think it's a backwater in Europe, you should reconsider your assumptions. The Estonians basically designed one of the most advanced information architectures for running a country with data sets that are separate, that can be joined briefly, and is secure. You can file your taxes in five minutes and other things like that.

And then a few years ago they realized in a way maybe Amazon Web Services style that they could offer that architecture to non-residents of Estonia and they created e-residency where you can form a business and bank inside Estonia, which means inside the EU. Now, you can run a business in the EU and pay your taxes in five minutes, which is proven to be attractive to digital nomads.

To me, this is really interesting because we see this convergence of like residency, citizenship, entrepreneurship, all these things there. So I think that there's this whole shuffling happening as everyone tries to compete for top talent. But the equity issues in this are vast and extreme, like this global war for talent. 

JT: Thank you for bringing that up, because that was going to be my question about this. To me, only attracting wealthy people or VCs is a part of the equation, but it is gonna take more than that for cities to be thriving, and great places to live.

GL:  But it's like this war of all against all for global talent. I just think it's interesting to close this as a discussion here. It used to be that economic development was about throwing subsidies at companies. I do think it's interesting to see cities wake up to economic development now being about workers, like you're fighting a war for one heart and mind at a time kind of thing. And so that's going to be really interesting. 

Everyone will have their own criteria of where they want to move to. And it's going to be up to cities to design that kind of combination of digital services and subsidies or whatever else they need to appeal to those people while addressing their problems at home.

JT: I'm curious on that point though. And maybe you're talking to people of the city side, who are trying to make their government “work better” but what do you think a city has to do to allow that to happen?

San Francisco, Northern California, and other places get beat up for not allowing innovation to happen, but what qualities make this work.

GL: There are two broadly speaking answers to that. So the Silicon Valley, California ideology to Miami nexus is about low, taxes, good weather. Let us do crypto. Mayor Suarez in Miami is doing a lot in the areas of crypto. You can go to Clubhouse and listen to that cast of characters talk about it.

I chose the other direction personally, which is I moved two years ago to Montreal, and part of my moving here was that Montreal is an emerging major tech hub in AI and other areas here. What I would argue, and there's a whole body of literature on this, but a strong social safety net that allows you to have more of a work-life balance subsidized like government-funded childcare. The taxes are high, but there's a service layer in place. 

In the States, people are gonna move to the Sunbelt and I love this common misconception that Texas is a low-tax state. As I understand it, the property taxes in Texas are comparably very high.

I'm curious if there are limits to the notion of it's all about taxation and most of the people leaving California aren't even claiming it's that. VCs are blaming it all on the dysfunction of California governance. My response to that is like how much loyalty did you put into it while you were there? I think it'll be really interesting to see if we reach a new age of even less loyalty to a place we all are just like bits bouncing around from place to place.

And that'll be the really interesting thing. Like we'll, have these people turn formerly blue cities red, or are we going to see people leaving cities in the Northeast for Vermont and elsewhere turn rural areas blue? I think that'll be an interesting offset As a final note in that it'll be interesting, like what happens to college towns?

If you looked at studies before the pandemic, like the college towns of America where the American ideal, they wanted like urbanity without being too big and like the Madisons

JT: and

GL: I just saw the Mayor of Madison was just part of a dialogue with Suarez and others in this.

For example, if there's one, one city in America that's positioned best over the next 20 to 30 years, it might be an Ann Arbor. You're in the great lakes. You're well-positioned for climate stuff as well. It's only going to improve. Good research university which draws a lot of federal funding.

So it'll be really interesting. Even if in the short term, universities are going to get hammered by tax shortfalls and stuff. So there you go, Ann Arbor folks is the place to be if, if you can't get across the border to Canada.

JT: Interesting! Ann Arbor does seem like a cool spot. I think that Montreal point is super interesting.

We talked when we a few weeks ago about how I used to work with Breather, and that was something that was always talked about was the great talent in Waterloo.

GL: Yeah. There's a huge scene there—the University of Waterloo. But also more broadly.

This touches, it goes beyond the tech in a way, but I've been writing some essays for Henley and partners, which are the folks that consult on citizenship and migration and yeah. The United States had huge shortfalls in education on this. The Trump years scared off a lot of international students and scared a lot of them to Canada. I'd be looking at Toronto seriously if I was looking to move to Canada.

JT: To your question about digital nomads. And I think many companies are doing things to service people for this lifestyle from it's whether it's housing, but it's also like products. Like I think like apparel, like I think about rent, the runway and clothing, that's moving to a subscription as a service and everything's moving to subscription, but I think everyone's lifestyles are.

Slowly moving this direction, whether it's e-commerce with you Prime and you can keep your whole life inside, Amazon if you want to. But like every tech company is like giving you the ability to get in their ecosystem and just make it your world. But what problems are really trying to solve?

GL: I always wonder about where this is going to go. I'm spending some time thinking about this. So you're right though. Like when you say everything is a service, like it's not even just the tech companies like all models feel like converging on everything as a service because of the whole pandemic case shape recovery, where huge amounts of cash had been consolidated and centralized.

And this is just as a meta trend. Like I've been following single-family rentals for this. Like, you see homeownership start to end or that's, there's a whole big play to build more families, more family homes for rentals and build services around it the same way.

Like we live in our tech ecosystem. Yeah. So I, haven't spent a lot of time in the prop-tech space. I know Michael Beckerman and I are thinking a lot about this sort of stuff and yeah There's it's been interesting seeing I've spent enough time with some of the big not to get, not to name names, but some of the big mixed-use developers and home builders, and they're all building out the sort of venture tech portfolios.

And yeah I guess I see good and bad in it. The ones that, frightened me on the bad side of the, yeah. The ones where it's where prop-tech meets FinTech, and that's the whole notion of like, how do we basically extend debt to you in various ways? Or how do we offer you equity to buy homes? This notion of getting you even deeper into the financial ecosystem in ways that can be a big financial burden is worrisome. 

CBRE just put up their big report and their wildcard scenarios $27 trillion asset class of mixed-use family alone. Cause again, multi-families will absorb all this stuff. So I have it on the brain, but yeah, but I'm interested like theirs, but separate from that, I'm interested in like the energy products.

I think that's like where the big thing is, and this is where prop-tech meets climate tech, which has become the other great buzzword here is we're going into another big climate tech or clean tech as they called it back in the day bubble. Or I don't know, maybe not a bubble; maybe this time is it?

And yeah, I think it's really interesting to see stuff on on on microgrid management like I've Interviewed the CEO of Sonnen, which Shell acquired. Like they're taking like the sort of Tesla model with Powerwall and solar panels and trying to prove that out Siemens is doing some live testing for this in Bavaria as well.

And like that to me is like really powerful stuff, their blueprint power, which came out of Urban-X.

Urban-X has a great new cohort there. I was their urbanist in residence for a while and they have some really interesting ones about handling out the energy trends, for instance, like blueprint power, allowing commercial real estate buildings to trade amongst themselves.

I think there's some interesting stuff there. As we see more cities potentially be like New York, like putting carbon taxes on buildings and requiring that de-carbonization to happen. Yeah, that's something I've been thinking about as well. And then I guess as a final piece in there too like, how buildings themselves are going to change in a sense of there's a lot of WeWork alumni who are out there in the world now who are working on, like, how do you massively scale it, that building footprint?

So. I know these are the things I'm thinking about. Cause we've talked, everyone talks about it, like the 15-minute city and we've been doing a whole masterclass on that in new cities. But, it started me to make a lot more sense. Like we should bring more people into the center of cities with more affordable housing, if we can, where there are already services, as opposed to this ongoing trend of hightailing it out of Dodge. We'll see, if that trend reverses once this is all over.

JT: Yeah, I agree. And I'm probably more, that's how I see things happening probably in agreeance with you I live in downtown LA, so I'm banking on that trend to people returning to cities and particularly people in their twenties since that's my age.

Is it smarter access? Is it like just companies doing smarter, more strategic things and just, it's just going to take time?

GL: Oh man. I don't know a lot to begin there. And smarter people than me know about you can do it the first 80%, but like the last 20% of de-carbonization of course is the hardest.

Then there's a couple of things in there. So one of course is just like land use, right? I'm glad the byte administration will be very big on EVs, but and want to reintroduce ed credits. And that's a good thing, but it's not the best thing because you still need to think about like the land use issues on this and, providing that public transport again, like just simply trying to maintain a civilization of Single-family homes and the excerpts with large format electric comers ultimately has second and third-order effects in terms of environmental impact.

That just isn't going to be there. Just as a total aside of this the whole notion that we're all gonna do remote video forever, like this all has of course had impact as well in terms of how dirty the cloud is. And there have been lots of studies there. Wind and solar are cleaner electricity.

Sophia Donaldson, my wife, was the editor of House Beautiful, and so we've thought a lot about homes, thinking about how, how are you going to reform your homes with induction ovens and removing the natural gas out of that too. There's a whole discussion to be done there about how we have to decarbonize our individual lives.

But the other piece of it, which I get into, which I think is interesting, is the intersection of like climate tech is like, Just like the risk levels involved. We did an event, a new city called higher ground that was interested in like climate migration. So I haven't spent a lot of time with people who are all building or thinking about black boxes for like climate models.

And it's really interesting about how that stuff feeds into the risk premiums for cities. In terms of it affects your bond issue in terms of what investments you make. This infrastructure. And how, like who were making these decisions, how can cities have visibility into it?

I want to start a project where we create like lead, but if you follow these principles and can be tracked openly, we know exactly what the financial impact will be. Because a lot of it is just four 27, which is owned by Moody's and other services controlled by reinsurance companies.

We don't know. What the real risks are, and we can't benchmark to that accordingly. So that, to me, is part of it. Do you even know what your footprint is? Do we even know what the risk is? We need to get that. We need to get that financial ecosystem linked with that, which will happen under Biden beCause Gary Gensler will go to the SEC. We see Larry Fink's letter is that climate risk is a financial risk but like operationalizing that, and then feeding that into the tech ecosystem to fund those investments. Those pieces, I don't think, are aligned yet. And that's a huge picture that I can't see quite clearly enough, but I think it's coming into focus.

JT: I agree with that. And I think as someone who used to work in democratic politics, I'm super psyched that climate change and that conversation is reinvigorated in Washington and the white house. And I think I'm curious. So if you're, and you're talking to the younger tech companies and stuff, and you're looking at this opportunity of like climate tech and like a broader focus on.

Energy and innovation in the sector. What do you think? If you're a younger startup and like you want to get involved in that conversation, what should you do? Like, how do you go, like talk to Washington, or maybe you've talked to city leaders since they're probably a little bit easier to get in the door with.

GL: Yeah, that's a good question. I would say. I'm less directly experience with that, but I think, yeah, I think it's the city leaders, some of the state agencies, like the Serta and stuff like this. There's tons of challenges out there. It is tough to deal with the government side of this.

I know that VCs all shy away from this and even folks like like Sean Abrams, Senator. Urban us, who is a believer in working with governments. I remember the one takeaway does not get caught in government decision-making cycles, like the procurement staff. It's just so hard.

So, yeah, figuring out what those early pilots are and figuring out how you can get your hooks in there into this procurement process is key.

GL: Yeah, I wish I had an answer for that, but like, how did I do that?

Sustainably, but that's the sort of, I think that the critical piece of it is can you find like ways to get into pilots and build up from there as a pipeline because yeah you're up against Titans of this with years and of course revolving doors and stuff between the big infrastructure companies I think it's telling just as an example of this.

One of my favorite companies that came out of urban X and shout out to them as clear road, like clear road has is a visionary company, has great tech for mileage-based totalling, so yeah. We see the gas tax is slowly declining, which we use to fund our infrastructure there.

Could you replace it with digital mileage-based totaling that goes beyond just simply setting up toll roads and paying a lot of money, but that's what they're trying to do? I don't think I'm telling stories out of school to say they found it a tough uphill, battle, because yeah.

How do you get involved in the state of New York's procurement processes? I guarantee you, it does not have better tech. It's probably about the size of your donation checks to Cuomo and the various entities around him. And it's the same sort of deal, like trying to battle against like European tolling companies, right?

Like all these sorts of things. So, yeah, so this is why I don't think of it necessarily as government is the bad guy and a lot of stuff. It's the entrenched interests around government in many ways the ones you're

JT: I am curious in, since you're in Montreal, like maybe you can give a little bit of perspective about how government operates a little bit differently there than the United States and just the structure of government that allows it to in probably my opinion, personal opinion, run a little bit more functional, particularly at the local Providence and even national level.

It's just like everyone works together in a lot better way.

GL: They do. Although I'm an Anglophone here I don't know how much I can answer that. That's

JT: That's true. I don't want you to get in trouble.

GL: Those conversations happen elsewhere, but I think it's the mayor plant here that is very progressive in this, and I think the city has some great livability goals and I guess NewCities this is a project.

I don't know if it's been announced. Still, we're partnering with a big company to think about how artificial intelligence is used in cities and how you educate policymakers on how to use it. Montreal has been very receptive to that. I think because it's an industry they want to grow.

Like they want to have a government that's well-schooled in that as well. So I think that, to me is two really interesting sides of it. But yeah watching the province in the city grapple with each other in various ways is interesting. I'm an immigrant here, so it's like I live, I don't just live in the cracks between two countries.

But in the cracks between a nation inside of a country next to a much larger country.

JT: What are your thoughts on remote cities?

GL: It's funny we stay involved. With CoMotion, we're planning for more events here and following mobility. And so I've been thinking a lot about that, and it's interesting.

I'm curious about what's going to happen with mobility. I've become a bit disillusioned in some ways with a lot of the stuff on the focus on micromobility. It's my personal inclination to think that providing all the carrots in the world will not make a difference if you don't have more sufficient sticks.

So think about the sense of like we've had this incredible supply in micro-mobility and other things, but in the meantime, over the last decade, we've seen like SUVs took over the world. Like I iStat I was using my talks is SUV's where the single largest. The second-largest source of carbon emissions between 2010 and 2018.

According to the IEA, that's more than aviation, that's more than heavy industry, just the shift from sedans to light trucks and SUVs did that. And the pandemic has not helped at all in that regard. So I'm curious about what stronger sticks that we need in terms of government policy, making those shifts happen, and getting people out of those cars.

And I hate even framing it that way because we need to be because we need to offer better alternatives. Through micro-mobility and public transportation, all these sorts of things, but I'm a little pessimistic that at some point, unless you have both the carrots and sticks of policy, it's just not going to happen.

JT: Love the carott and stick analogy. I'm a grad student in public policy right now so I'm taking many micro econ courses, all about using carrot and sticks and ways to get people to participate in social services and public program. So what's an example of a stick and a carrot in your world?

GL: This is the ultimate stick if you're in like the Georgia school the Henry Georgia, so believe as there should just be like land value taxes on everything.

And that would solve it from an urban tech. I would just say going back to congestion pricing would be an obvious one or mileage-based pricing that you know, which has its problems. If you have Anthony Townsend on at some point, there are many interesting arguments about how autonomy could screw with some of these electives, some of these models.

But that's, that to me, an example of a stick, like actually putting in more taxation and more restriction measures to protect the public good.

And then an example of a carrot is I think cities investing in mobility as a service, whatever that means to you in terms of like how it extends it and investing heavily into public transit, free public transit.

For example, I think free transit ridership would be a great example of a carrot for this analogy. Because if you make it free, in theory, you'll have a lot more usage. These are the kinds of things I'm thinking through, like the policy measures for that? And in a CoMotion, we celebrate the supply.

Also, we have great public policy stuff. Another example of a stick would be the work by Seleta Reynolds at LADOT, and her very controversial mobility data specification was articulating that like, "code is the new concrete." There's a lot of criticism about how it's wielded about whether there are any safeguards in place like the ACLU and, the, eff and Uber suing her about this in federal court.

GL: I'll be the first to say as you and I, we both know Bradley Tusk here so he was, of course, on Uber's side as a paid consultant, then flipped to support Lacuna, which is the tech company building the data tool. And yeah, he would be the one to tell you that LA is on the right on this now. But I think it's interesting.

It'll be interesting to see how do governments build tools and governance structures and alliances to scale as quickly as the tech companies that are; they're trying to skirt around them and learn from those as quickly as possible.

Since the protests, since George Floyd's killing about yeah. We know from Amazon ring police and surveillance and having more government intrusion to these tools is a very double-edged sword to say the least.

JT: Yeah, no, and I like that point. Maybe this is getting back to some stuff we talked about earlier because like we were talking about Sunbelts and warm places and U.S. micromobility blew up out here on the West Coast where cold weather is less of a business issue.

And so I'm thinking about it a lot. If you are going to get people out of cars, how do you get people out of cars in colder places and places more positioned for climate change and a warming planet?

And there are countries like Sweden where people do ride bikes around and do it. And they've created infrastructure, I think, to allow it, but what do you need to do to get people out of cars and like colder places?

And that's what and I think people get so frustrated because all the changes don't happen fast enough. And when you're getting governments involved, change, never. It occurs at a pace that like the people on the ground wanted even to like people who are working for that change, probably.

So I'm curious, I don't want to take up too much more of your time and stuff. I know you're super busy. What didn't I ask you that I should have you're an expert on all of this stuff. What didI miss here? 

GL: Oh, man. What are the big questions here? Yeah. One of the big questions in life is like, yeah, it's housing.

It's where do we live post-pandemic. It's like, how do we move and get around? Ultimately, I think it's I think that I think the biggest question for cities. Going forward, what happens to work and for whom is like the 15 minute city for?

It's like the fantasy that you can live in this beautiful, walkable urban village, which has all sorts of hidden equity questions behind it. Of course, it comes into your high price, residential neighborhood to deliver services to you. And how does that get implemented in reality?

JT: Yeah, in the United States, for some reason, this reminds me of the idea of gated communities and the controversies of equity brought up around those communities. I get super nervous about the equity stuff, and who all this innovation is really aimed to serve and help, so I love that call out.

GL: Yeah, that's a big one. And then the other one that worries me to no end is, of course, and I don't know how popular this would be with your listeners, but like it's creeping surveillance. A piece came out in CityMonitor to this on dunked on like the death of the smart city and how all that rhetoric has gone away.

For example, Verizon is putting out this ad now of the future is facial recognition, temperature checks like total invasive surveillance in the name of health.

And I say this as somebody who studied air travel and airports the logic of like of a security theater post nine 11 is now going to become healthier. And I worry about the trade-offs of this. I'm really glad to see that a handful of cities have pushed back on this Somerville, mass, Portland, Maine, others.

Cities banning facial surveillance, facial recognition by at least government agencies is a good first step. Still, I hope that we've learned enough that we're going to push back on like this creeping surveillance into the hands of the big tech stacks w Amazon ring has done with what they're trying to do with sidewalk their product on this.

So I don't know. I think that's something we need to think long and hard about; at what point do we curtail this stuff and put these rights in place?

And then the second part, I think we need to be thinking a lot about is going back to remote work too, is like the biggest thing I worry about is that now that we've seen that large employers and large organizations have realized they don't need offices, are they going to realize they don't need employees?

Like we've seen this trend towards having project-based or zero-hour employees where you don't have fixed schedules, will they do this to professional knowledge workers? Or like you just get hired on Upwork or some of these other platforms where you don't have full-time employment anymore. You're bidding against everybody else for the same kind of work.

To what extent will we see organizations hold themselves out? And again, how do we have protections in place? How do we empower workers to do that? I hope that we're not all just like squabbling around doing that. So, I don't know. I've been thinking about some of the dark sides of this stuff because I feel like remote work has been praised as the future of everything.

Even as we acknowledge it like everybody is burnt out and the style is not working right now. So how do we return to that balance post-pandemic? And I don't know that it's part of a nascent project I'm working on about thinking through what could like a neo-guild look like? What kind of this bottom-up organizations look like where workers can band together and have more agency over their workflows or rely on each other if their employers are going to be permanently behind a Zoom screen?

JT: Yeah, And I'm going to want to have you back when you can share more details on some of those projects just to put in your ear now. But so where for the urban tech readers listeners, where can people go check out your work?

GL: Thank you. I would say shout us to CoMotion and new cities, of course. And then you get hit over my site, Greg lindsay.org, where I keep up to date on various talks and things and all this stuff that I'm upon, so please head over there to stay informed.

Thanks for reading this week! I’ll be back on Monday with the essential city and tech stories that you should know for starting your week. Here’s some cute pup content to get you through the weekend:

✌️JT

Good morning! Happy Urban Tech Thursday. 

This week’s edition is super special for me. I got to chat with one of my personal heroes for this week’s edition and podcast. I chatted with Greg Lindsay. 

Before diving in too far, an ✨ Urban Tech product updates tease ✨ :

 The last several months, while working on content on the public-facing side of UT, I’ve been working to figure how to take Urban Tech to even higher levels of quality. This space only deserves the best after all!

Some incredibly smart friends (some are even part of the Urban Tech community!) and I think we have the gameplan ready, and so it’s looking like next week is when I’ll start to be able to share details.

All to say: just keep your eyes open for some 🔥 updates next week. If you want a little early preview of what’s to come, feel free to email me or hit reply, and I can probably share a couple more details than the vagueness that I just shared.

But enough about UT and our work, today is about all the incredible work Greg Lindsay is doing! For those in our community unfamilari with Greg’s work, here’s his bio:

Greg Lindsay is a journalist, urbanist, futurist, and speaker. He is the director of applied research at NewCities and director of strategy at its mobility offshoot CoMotion.  He is also a partner at FutureMap, a geo-strategic advisory firm based in Singapore, a non-resident senior fellow of The Atlantic Council’s Foresight, Strategy, and Risks Initiative, and co-author of Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next.

Exploring The Rise of “Nomad Cities”

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JT: Greg, I'm super excited that I get to chat with you. I used to work on the comp side; I don't want to embarrass you too much. You are someone who helped me understand urbanism issues and challenges. So thank you for taking the time to come chat.

GL: No, it's my pleasure to be on here. You're running one of the best Urban podcasts and newsletters around.

JT: No, I don't want even to take that. I'm super humbled by you saying that but thank you.

To start, I'd love it if maybe you could talk a bit about your work with remote work hubs. That's a big issue to many readers and listeners to the podcast who are thinking about “where innovation is going to go.” 

Do you think it's like a Miami diaspora and everyone's going to go there from San Francisco and New York, or what's going on?

GL: There's so much to talk about here. So a couple of ideas. I followed your last podcast with Bradley Tusktalking about this, and I've been chatting with many people.

Everyone else has been falling discussion about like where's everyone to go. And so the first thing to say is the absolute numbers are not crazy. It's not like everybody's abandoned these cities. It's like upticks of three to five percentage points, which are of course massively meaningful for everything.

But it's not like everything is. And second, I would point out I wrote a report that came out in 2020 on millennials and where they would move for new cities, and I believe that the trends that are going to happen over the next decade are happening all at once.

The whole accelerationist impulse of the pandemic is happening. There were like, yeah; they would leave coastal cities for cheaper housing markets in the Sunbelt. And that's what's happened, which is. I would argue perhaps a bad thing in the long run because I've also been working on stuff around climate migration. Like, people are leaving places that are more resilient to climate change to go to places that are less resilient to climate change, notably Austin, which of course, has had to deal with a weather disaster or climate disaster.

JT: I live in Southern California, and obviously, we're dealing with our climate change narrative on the West Coast that's very different.

GL: Then the West Coast, when I come back to it, I've had multiple conversations with this about I think people ultimately you will leave San Francisco not be there's the housing issue, but also because any given year, there's going to be a week of wildfires where you can't breathe.

What does it do for raising families there and things like that? So that is a whole, as a longer-term ticking time bomb with the fire season. Then, this is the thing about the Miami trend that I just can't get over. It was like all of the reading; all these VCs write lengthy essays about how California is broken and had done this in-depth analysis of where to move.

And then they moved to Miami without ever mentioning climate change. At least the smart ones said the taxes. But there you go. Yes, I've been following all of that, but I think the remote work thing is definitely going to happen. In some regards, I've been talking with people involved with that, like super-smart people like Mark Gilbert at Liquidspace, who for years has been building the tools to allow remote work or have multiple workspaces.

And I know I, without giving too much away, that he's hearing from all these companies now planning those plans. So I think that's going to happen. And to me, there's a couple of impacts where that goes. So once I've been talking to developers, for example, who were involved in Common, the coliving company.

They did this brilliant maneuver of putting out an RFP for people to design multifamily housing with workspaces for remote work and I think it's really interesting. It's not just apartments with home workspaces, but bookable conference rooms in the space.

Other ideas are trying to partner with a local daycare to have onsite childcare, and I think that's interesting because we've unbundled the office, and we're now re-bundling it as part of housing. 

And then the other thing there about the larger scale, and this is a project I'm trying to initiate with NewCities is: What happens to the sort of second and third-tier cities like Tulsa or Bentonville, which have $10,000 bonuses to attract skilled workers?

If you moved there, what happens to them to compete against Miami where you've got the CEO of SoftBank putting out a hundred million dollars for startups, and so that's something that we're trying to put together. These secondary and third-tier cities need to have their lightweight tools to attract people. The other piece of that, which I think is interesting, is it's not all just about low taxes and beaches, right?

There's a certain breed of person that attracts, and it seems similar in trends to the Estonian e-visa program.

JT: Can you explain that just a little bit only in case some people don't know? I love the stuff that is happening there, but I’m a big nerd and I’m not sure everyone reading is up to date on Estonia’s work.

GL: Of course, if you haven't followed the Estonian story and still think it's a backwater in Europe, you should reconsider your assumptions. The Estonians basically designed one of the most advanced information architectures for running a country with data sets that are separate, that can be joined briefly, and is secure. You can file your taxes in five minutes and other things like that.

And then a few years ago they realized in a way maybe Amazon Web Services style that they could offer that architecture to non-residents of Estonia and they created e-residency where you can form a business and bank inside Estonia, which means inside the EU. Now, you can run a business in the EU and pay your taxes in five minutes, which is proven to be attractive to digital nomads.

To me, this is really interesting because we see this convergence of like residency, citizenship, entrepreneurship, all these things there. So I think that there's this whole shuffling happening as everyone tries to compete for top talent. But the equity issues in this are vast and extreme, like this global war for talent. 

JT: Thank you for bringing that up, because that was going to be my question about this. To me, only attracting wealthy people or VCs is a part of the equation, but it is gonna take more than that for cities to be thriving, and great places to live.

GL:  But it's like this war of all against all for global talent. I just think it's interesting to close this as a discussion here. It used to be that economic development was about throwing subsidies at companies. I do think it's interesting to see cities wake up to economic development now being about workers, like you're fighting a war for one heart and mind at a time kind of thing. And so that's going to be really interesting. 

Everyone will have their own criteria of where they want to move to. And it's going to be up to cities to design that kind of combination of digital services and subsidies or whatever else they need to appeal to those people while addressing their problems at home.

JT: I'm curious on that point though. And maybe you're talking to people of the city side, who are trying to make their government “work better” but what do you think a city has to do to allow that to happen?

San Francisco, Northern California, and other places get beat up for not allowing innovation to happen, but what qualities make this work.

GL: There are two broadly speaking answers to that. So the Silicon Valley, California ideology to Miami nexus is about low, taxes, good weather. Let us do crypto. Mayor Suarez in Miami is doing a lot in the areas of crypto. You can go to Clubhouse and listen to that cast of characters talk about it.

I chose the other direction personally, which is I moved two years ago to Montreal, and part of my moving here was that Montreal is an emerging major tech hub in AI and other areas here. What I would argue, and there's a whole body of literature on this, but a strong social safety net that allows you to have more of a work-life balance subsidized like government-funded childcare. The taxes are high, but there's a service layer in place. 

In the States, people are gonna move to the Sunbelt and I love this common misconception that Texas is a low-tax state. As I understand it, the property taxes in Texas are comparably very high.

I'm curious if there are limits to the notion of it's all about taxation and most of the people leaving California aren't even claiming it's that. VCs are blaming it all on the dysfunction of California governance. My response to that is like how much loyalty did you put into it while you were there? I think it'll be really interesting to see if we reach a new age of even less loyalty to a place we all are just like bits bouncing around from place to place.

And that'll be the really interesting thing. Like we'll, have these people turn formerly blue cities red, or are we going to see people leaving cities in the Northeast for Vermont and elsewhere turn rural areas blue? I think that'll be an interesting offset As a final note in that it'll be interesting, like what happens to college towns?

If you looked at studies before the pandemic, like the college towns of America where the American ideal, they wanted like urbanity without being too big and like the Madisons

JT: and

GL: I just saw the Mayor of Madison was just part of a dialogue with Suarez and others in this.

For example, if there's one, one city in America that's positioned best over the next 20 to 30 years, it might be an Ann Arbor. You're in the great lakes. You're well-positioned for climate stuff as well. It's only going to improve. Good research university which draws a lot of federal funding.

So it'll be really interesting. Even if in the short term, universities are going to get hammered by tax shortfalls and stuff. So there you go, Ann Arbor folks is the place to be if, if you can't get across the border to Canada.

JT: Interesting! Ann Arbor does seem like a cool spot. I think that Montreal point is super interesting.

We talked when we a few weeks ago about how I used to work with Breather, and that was something that was always talked about was the great talent in Waterloo.

GL: Yeah. There's a huge scene there—the University of Waterloo. But also more broadly.

This touches, it goes beyond the tech in a way, but I've been writing some essays for Henley and partners, which are the folks that consult on citizenship and migration and yeah. The United States had huge shortfalls in education on this. The Trump years scared off a lot of international students and scared a lot of them to Canada. I'd be looking at Toronto seriously if I was looking to move to Canada.

JT: To your question about digital nomads. And I think many companies are doing things to service people for this lifestyle from it's whether it's housing, but it's also like products. Like I think like apparel, like I think about rent, the runway and clothing, that's moving to a subscription as a service and everything's moving to subscription, but I think everyone's lifestyles are.

Slowly moving this direction, whether it's e-commerce with you Prime and you can keep your whole life inside, Amazon if you want to. But like every tech company is like giving you the ability to get in their ecosystem and just make it your world. But what problems are really trying to solve?

GL: I always wonder about where this is going to go. I'm spending some time thinking about this. So you're right though. Like when you say everything is a service, like it's not even just the tech companies like all models feel like converging on everything as a service because of the whole pandemic case shape recovery, where huge amounts of cash had been consolidated and centralized.

And this is just as a meta trend. Like I've been following single-family rentals for this. Like, you see homeownership start to end or that's, there's a whole big play to build more families, more family homes for rentals and build services around it the same way.

Like we live in our tech ecosystem. Yeah. So I, haven't spent a lot of time in the prop-tech space. I know Michael Beckerman and I are thinking a lot about this sort of stuff and yeah There's it's been interesting seeing I've spent enough time with some of the big not to get, not to name names, but some of the big mixed-use developers and home builders, and they're all building out the sort of venture tech portfolios.

And yeah I guess I see good and bad in it. The ones that, frightened me on the bad side of the, yeah. The ones where it's where prop-tech meets FinTech, and that's the whole notion of like, how do we basically extend debt to you in various ways? Or how do we offer you equity to buy homes? This notion of getting you even deeper into the financial ecosystem in ways that can be a big financial burden is worrisome. 

CBRE just put up their big report and their wildcard scenarios $27 trillion asset class of mixed-use family alone. Cause again, multi-families will absorb all this stuff. So I have it on the brain, but yeah, but I'm interested like theirs, but separate from that, I'm interested in like the energy products.

I think that's like where the big thing is, and this is where prop-tech meets climate tech, which has become the other great buzzword here is we're going into another big climate tech or clean tech as they called it back in the day bubble. Or I don't know, maybe not a bubble; maybe this time is it?

And yeah, I think it's really interesting to see stuff on on on microgrid management like I've Interviewed the CEO of Sonnen, which Shell acquired. Like they're taking like the sort of Tesla model with Powerwall and solar panels and trying to prove that out Siemens is doing some live testing for this in Bavaria as well.

And like that to me is like really powerful stuff, their blueprint power, which came out of Urban-X.

Urban-X has a great new cohort there. I was their urbanist in residence for a while and they have some really interesting ones about handling out the energy trends, for instance, like blueprint power, allowing commercial real estate buildings to trade amongst themselves.

I think there's some interesting stuff there. As we see more cities potentially be like New York, like putting carbon taxes on buildings and requiring that de-carbonization to happen. Yeah, that's something I've been thinking about as well. And then I guess as a final piece in there too like, how buildings themselves are going to change in a sense of there's a lot of WeWork alumni who are out there in the world now who are working on, like, how do you massively scale it, that building footprint?

So. I know these are the things I'm thinking about. Cause we've talked, everyone talks about it, like the 15-minute city and we've been doing a whole masterclass on that in new cities. But, it started me to make a lot more sense. Like we should bring more people into the center of cities with more affordable housing, if we can, where there are already services, as opposed to this ongoing trend of hightailing it out of Dodge. We'll see, if that trend reverses once this is all over.

JT: Yeah, I agree. And I'm probably more, that's how I see things happening probably in agreeance with you I live in downtown LA, so I'm banking on that trend to people returning to cities and particularly people in their twenties since that's my age.

Is it smarter access? Is it like just companies doing smarter, more strategic things and just, it's just going to take time?

GL: Oh man. I don't know a lot to begin there. And smarter people than me know about you can do it the first 80%, but like the last 20% of de-carbonization of course is the hardest.

Then there's a couple of things in there. So one of course is just like land use, right? I'm glad the byte administration will be very big on EVs, but and want to reintroduce ed credits. And that's a good thing, but it's not the best thing because you still need to think about like the land use issues on this and, providing that public transport again, like just simply trying to maintain a civilization of Single-family homes and the excerpts with large format electric comers ultimately has second and third-order effects in terms of environmental impact.

That just isn't going to be there. Just as a total aside of this the whole notion that we're all gonna do remote video forever, like this all has of course had impact as well in terms of how dirty the cloud is. And there have been lots of studies there. Wind and solar are cleaner electricity.

Sophia Donaldson, my wife, was the editor of House Beautiful, and so we've thought a lot about homes, thinking about how, how are you going to reform your homes with induction ovens and removing the natural gas out of that too. There's a whole discussion to be done there about how we have to decarbonize our individual lives.

But the other piece of it, which I get into, which I think is interesting, is the intersection of like climate tech is like, Just like the risk levels involved. We did an event, a new city called higher ground that was interested in like climate migration. So I haven't spent a lot of time with people who are all building or thinking about black boxes for like climate models.

And it's really interesting about how that stuff feeds into the risk premiums for cities. In terms of it affects your bond issue in terms of what investments you make. This infrastructure. And how, like who were making these decisions, how can cities have visibility into it?

I want to start a project where we create like lead, but if you follow these principles and can be tracked openly, we know exactly what the financial impact will be. Because a lot of it is just four 27, which is owned by Moody's and other services controlled by reinsurance companies.

We don't know. What the real risks are, and we can't benchmark to that accordingly. So that, to me, is part of it. Do you even know what your footprint is? Do we even know what the risk is? We need to get that. We need to get that financial ecosystem linked with that, which will happen under Biden beCause Gary Gensler will go to the SEC. We see Larry Fink's letter is that climate risk is a financial risk but like operationalizing that, and then feeding that into the tech ecosystem to fund those investments. Those pieces, I don't think, are aligned yet. And that's a huge picture that I can't see quite clearly enough, but I think it's coming into focus.

JT: I agree with that. And I think as someone who used to work in democratic politics, I'm super psyched that climate change and that conversation is reinvigorated in Washington and the white house. And I think I'm curious. So if you're, and you're talking to the younger tech companies and stuff, and you're looking at this opportunity of like climate tech and like a broader focus on.

Energy and innovation in the sector. What do you think? If you're a younger startup and like you want to get involved in that conversation, what should you do? Like, how do you go, like talk to Washington, or maybe you've talked to city leaders since they're probably a little bit easier to get in the door with.

GL: Yeah, that's a good question. I would say. I'm less directly experience with that, but I think, yeah, I think it's the city leaders, some of the state agencies, like the Serta and stuff like this. There's tons of challenges out there. It is tough to deal with the government side of this.

I know that VCs all shy away from this and even folks like like Sean Abrams, Senator. Urban us, who is a believer in working with governments. I remember the one takeaway does not get caught in government decision-making cycles, like the procurement staff. It's just so hard.

So, yeah, figuring out what those early pilots are and figuring out how you can get your hooks in there into this procurement process is key.

GL: Yeah, I wish I had an answer for that, but like, how did I do that?

Sustainably, but that's the sort of, I think that the critical piece of it is can you find like ways to get into pilots and build up from there as a pipeline because yeah you're up against Titans of this with years and of course revolving doors and stuff between the big infrastructure companies I think it's telling just as an example of this.

One of my favorite companies that came out of urban X and shout out to them as clear road, like clear road has is a visionary company, has great tech for mileage-based totalling, so yeah. We see the gas tax is slowly declining, which we use to fund our infrastructure there.

Could you replace it with digital mileage-based totaling that goes beyond just simply setting up toll roads and paying a lot of money, but that's what they're trying to do? I don't think I'm telling stories out of school to say they found it a tough uphill, battle, because yeah.

How do you get involved in the state of New York's procurement processes? I guarantee you, it does not have better tech. It's probably about the size of your donation checks to Cuomo and the various entities around him. And it's the same sort of deal, like trying to battle against like European tolling companies, right?

Like all these sorts of things. So, yeah, so this is why I don't think of it necessarily as government is the bad guy and a lot of stuff. It's the entrenched interests around government in many ways the ones you're

JT: I am curious in, since you're in Montreal, like maybe you can give a little bit of perspective about how government operates a little bit differently there than the United States and just the structure of government that allows it to in probably my opinion, personal opinion, run a little bit more functional, particularly at the local Providence and even national level.

It's just like everyone works together in a lot better way.

GL: They do. Although I'm an Anglophone here I don't know how much I can answer that. That's

JT: That's true. I don't want you to get in trouble.

GL: Those conversations happen elsewhere, but I think it's the mayor plant here that is very progressive in this, and I think the city has some great livability goals and I guess NewCities this is a project.

I don't know if it's been announced. Still, we're partnering with a big company to think about how artificial intelligence is used in cities and how you educate policymakers on how to use it. Montreal has been very receptive to that. I think because it's an industry they want to grow.

Like they want to have a government that's well-schooled in that as well. So I think that, to me is two really interesting sides of it. But yeah watching the province in the city grapple with each other in various ways is interesting. I'm an immigrant here, so it's like I live, I don't just live in the cracks between two countries.

But in the cracks between a nation inside of a country next to a much larger country.

JT: What are your thoughts on remote cities?

GL: It's funny we stay involved. With CoMotion, we're planning for more events here and following mobility. And so I've been thinking a lot about that, and it's interesting.

I'm curious about what's going to happen with mobility. I've become a bit disillusioned in some ways with a lot of the stuff on the focus on micromobility. It's my personal inclination to think that providing all the carrots in the world will not make a difference if you don't have more sufficient sticks.

So think about the sense of like we've had this incredible supply in micro-mobility and other things, but in the meantime, over the last decade, we've seen like SUVs took over the world. Like I iStat I was using my talks is SUV's where the single largest. The second-largest source of carbon emissions between 2010 and 2018.

According to the IEA, that's more than aviation, that's more than heavy industry, just the shift from sedans to light trucks and SUVs did that. And the pandemic has not helped at all in that regard. So I'm curious about what stronger sticks that we need in terms of government policy, making those shifts happen, and getting people out of those cars.

And I hate even framing it that way because we need to be because we need to offer better alternatives. Through micro-mobility and public transportation, all these sorts of things, but I'm a little pessimistic that at some point, unless you have both the carrots and sticks of policy, it's just not going to happen.

JT: Love the carott and stick analogy. I'm a grad student in public policy right now so I'm taking many micro econ courses, all about using carrot and sticks and ways to get people to participate in social services and public program. So what's an example of a stick and a carrot in your world?

GL: This is the ultimate stick if you're in like the Georgia school the Henry Georgia, so believe as there should just be like land value taxes on everything.

And that would solve it from an urban tech. I would just say going back to congestion pricing would be an obvious one or mileage-based pricing that you know, which has its problems. If you have Anthony Townsend on at some point, there are many interesting arguments about how autonomy could screw with some of these electives, some of these models.

But that's, that to me, an example of a stick, like actually putting in more taxation and more restriction measures to protect the public good.

And then an example of a carrot is I think cities investing in mobility as a service, whatever that means to you in terms of like how it extends it and investing heavily into public transit, free public transit.

For example, I think free transit ridership would be a great example of a carrot for this analogy. Because if you make it free, in theory, you'll have a lot more usage. These are the kinds of things I'm thinking through, like the policy measures for that? And in a CoMotion, we celebrate the supply.

Also, we have great public policy stuff. Another example of a stick would be the work by Seleta Reynolds at LADOT, and her very controversial mobility data specification was articulating that like, "code is the new concrete." There's a lot of criticism about how it's wielded about whether there are any safeguards in place like the ACLU and, the, eff and Uber suing her about this in federal court.

GL: I'll be the first to say as you and I, we both know Bradley Tusk here so he was, of course, on Uber's side as a paid consultant, then flipped to support Lacuna, which is the tech company building the data tool. And yeah, he would be the one to tell you that LA is on the right on this now. But I think it's interesting.

It'll be interesting to see how do governments build tools and governance structures and alliances to scale as quickly as the tech companies that are; they're trying to skirt around them and learn from those as quickly as possible.

Since the protests, since George Floyd's killing about yeah. We know from Amazon ring police and surveillance and having more government intrusion to these tools is a very double-edged sword to say the least.

JT: Yeah, no, and I like that point. Maybe this is getting back to some stuff we talked about earlier because like we were talking about Sunbelts and warm places and U.S. micromobility blew up out here on the West Coast where cold weather is less of a business issue.

And so I'm thinking about it a lot. If you are going to get people out of cars, how do you get people out of cars in colder places and places more positioned for climate change and a warming planet?

And there are countries like Sweden where people do ride bikes around and do it. And they've created infrastructure, I think, to allow it, but what do you need to do to get people out of cars and like colder places?

And that's what and I think people get so frustrated because all the changes don't happen fast enough. And when you're getting governments involved, change, never. It occurs at a pace that like the people on the ground wanted even to like people who are working for that change, probably.

So I'm curious, I don't want to take up too much more of your time and stuff. I know you're super busy. What didn't I ask you that I should have you're an expert on all of this stuff. What didI miss here? 

GL: Oh, man. What are the big questions here? Yeah. One of the big questions in life is like, yeah, it's housing.

It's where do we live post-pandemic. It's like, how do we move and get around? Ultimately, I think it's I think that I think the biggest question for cities. Going forward, what happens to work and for whom is like the 15 minute city for?

It's like the fantasy that you can live in this beautiful, walkable urban village, which has all sorts of hidden equity questions behind it. Of course, it comes into your high price, residential neighborhood to deliver services to you. And how does that get implemented in reality?

JT: Yeah, in the United States, for some reason, this reminds me of the idea of gated communities and the controversies of equity brought up around those communities. I get super nervous about the equity stuff, and who all this innovation is really aimed to serve and help, so I love that call out.

GL: Yeah, that's a big one. And then the other one that worries me to no end is, of course, and I don't know how popular this would be with your listeners, but like it's creeping surveillance. A piece came out in CityMonitor to this on dunked on like the death of the smart city and how all that rhetoric has gone away.

For example, Verizon is putting out this ad now of the future is facial recognition, temperature checks like total invasive surveillance in the name of health.

And I say this as somebody who studied air travel and airports the logic of like of a security theater post nine 11 is now going to become healthier. And I worry about the trade-offs of this. I'm really glad to see that a handful of cities have pushed back on this Somerville, mass, Portland, Maine, others.

Cities banning facial surveillance, facial recognition by at least government agencies is a good first step. Still, I hope that we've learned enough that we're going to push back on like this creeping surveillance into the hands of the big tech stacks w Amazon ring has done with what they're trying to do with sidewalk their product on this.

So I don't know. I think that's something we need to think long and hard about; at what point do we curtail this stuff and put these rights in place?

And then the second part, I think we need to be thinking a lot about is going back to remote work too, is like the biggest thing I worry about is that now that we've seen that large employers and large organizations have realized they don't need offices, are they going to realize they don't need employees?

Like we've seen this trend towards having project-based or zero-hour employees where you don't have fixed schedules, will they do this to professional knowledge workers? Or like you just get hired on Upwork or some of these other platforms where you don't have full-time employment anymore. You're bidding against everybody else for the same kind of work.

To what extent will we see organizations hold themselves out? And again, how do we have protections in place? How do we empower workers to do that? I hope that we're not all just like squabbling around doing that. So, I don't know. I've been thinking about some of the dark sides of this stuff because I feel like remote work has been praised as the future of everything.

Even as we acknowledge it like everybody is burnt out and the style is not working right now. So how do we return to that balance post-pandemic? And I don't know that it's part of a nascent project I'm working on about thinking through what could like a neo-guild look like? What kind of this bottom-up organizations look like where workers can band together and have more agency over their workflows or rely on each other if their employers are going to be permanently behind a Zoom screen?

JT: Yeah, And I'm going to want to have you back when you can share more details on some of those projects just to put in your ear now. But so where for the urban tech readers listeners, where can people go check out your work?

GL: Thank you. I would say shout us to CoMotion and new cities, of course. And then you get hit over my site, Greg lindsay.org, where I keep up to date on various talks and things and all this stuff that I'm upon, so please head over there to stay informed.

Thanks for reading this week! I’ll be back on Monday with the essential city and tech stories that you should know for starting your week. Here’s some cute pup content to get you through the weekend:

✌️JT

Exploring The Rise of “Nomad Cities”

John Thomey

John Thomey is a founder of Urban Tech, a newsletter and podcast. He’s a graduate student at the University of Southern California, studying Public Policy and Urban Planning.

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JT sits down with Micah Kotch, the CEO of Urban-X an accelerator focused on the urban tech space. Micah shares his thoughts on the last year in the space and what trends and themes have caught his eye in the space.
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Insights from a Leading Urban Tech Investor
Aug 12, 2021
Business

Insights from a Leading Urban Tech Investor

JT sits down with Micah Kotch, the CEO of Urban-X an accelerator focused on the urban tech space. Micah shares his thoughts on the last year in the space and what trends and themes have caught his eye in the space.
🔒 Member-only content. 🔒
🔒 Member-only content. 🔒
OR
Insights from a Govtech Founder Part 1/2
Aug 2, 2021
Govtech
Insights from a Govtech Founder Part 1/2
Last month, govtech startup Indigov agreed to a partnership with the state of Michigan to improves constituent services. UrbanTech sat down with Indigov's CEO to learn insights on scaling a govtech startup and how the company thinks about the future of constituent services.
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Insights from a Govtech Founder Part 1/2
Aug 2, 2021
Govtech
Insights from a Govtech Founder Part 1/2
Last month, govtech startup Indigov agreed to a partnership with the state of Michigan to improves constituent services. UrbanTech sat down with Indigov's CEO to learn insights on scaling a govtech startup and how the company thinks about the future of constituent services.
Keep Reading →
Insights from a Govtech Founder Part 1/2
Aug 2, 2021
Govtech

Insights from a Govtech Founder Part 1/2

Last month, govtech startup Indigov agreed to a partnership with the state of Michigan to improves constituent services. UrbanTech sat down with Indigov's CEO to learn insights on scaling a govtech startup and how the company thinks about the future of constituent services.
🔒 Member-only content. 🔒
🔒 Member-only content. 🔒
OR
Parking Compliance - Unleashing the Potential of Shared Micromobility
Jul 26, 2021
Opinion
Parking Compliance - Unleashing the Potential of Shared Micromobility
Alex Nesic, Cofounder and Chief Business Officer of Drover AI, explains the parking dilemma facing micromobility.
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Parking Compliance - Unleashing the Potential of Shared Micromobility
Jul 26, 2021
Opinion
Parking Compliance - Unleashing the Potential of Shared Micromobility
Alex Nesic, Cofounder and Chief Business Officer of Drover AI, explains the parking dilemma facing micromobility.
Keep Reading →
Parking Compliance - Unleashing the Potential of Shared Micromobility
Jul 26, 2021
Opinion

Parking Compliance - Unleashing the Potential of Shared Micromobility

Alex Nesic, Cofounder and Chief Business Officer of Drover AI, explains the parking dilemma facing micromobility.
🔒 Member-only content. 🔒
🔒 Member-only content. 🔒
OR
UrbanTech Market Map Series #2: Zooming into Energy Tech
Jul 20, 2021
Climate Tech
UrbanTech Market Map Series #2: Zooming into Energy Tech
In the second piece in the UrbanTech Market Map Series, JT shares details on the companies the UrbanTech community is tracking.
Keep Reading →
UrbanTech Market Map Series #2: Zooming into Energy Tech
Jul 20, 2021
Climate Tech
UrbanTech Market Map Series #2: Zooming into Energy Tech
In the second piece in the UrbanTech Market Map Series, JT shares details on the companies the UrbanTech community is tracking.
Keep Reading →
UrbanTech Market Map Series #2: Zooming into Energy Tech
Jul 20, 2021
Climate Tech

UrbanTech Market Map Series #2: Zooming into Energy Tech

In the second piece in the UrbanTech Market Map Series, JT shares details on the companies the UrbanTech community is tracking.
🔒 Member-only content. 🔒
🔒 Member-only content. 🔒
OR
The Adoption for Building Sustainability Continues to Lag
Jul 1, 2021
Climate Tech
The Adoption for Building Sustainability Continues to Lag
To learn more on how we can scale technologies focused on decarbonizing the built environment, JT sat down with Kate Frucher, co-founder and managing director of The Clean Fight, the first growth-stage clean energy accelerator backed by New York State, through its energy agency NYSERDA.
Keep Reading →
The Adoption for Building Sustainability Continues to Lag
Jul 1, 2021
Climate Tech
The Adoption for Building Sustainability Continues to Lag
To learn more on how we can scale technologies focused on decarbonizing the built environment, JT sat down with Kate Frucher, co-founder and managing director of The Clean Fight, the first growth-stage clean energy accelerator backed by New York State, through its energy agency NYSERDA.
Keep Reading →
The Adoption for Building Sustainability Continues to Lag
Jul 1, 2021
Climate Tech

The Adoption for Building Sustainability Continues to Lag

To learn more on how we can scale technologies focused on decarbonizing the built environment, JT sat down with Kate Frucher, co-founder and managing director of The Clean Fight, the first growth-stage clean energy accelerator backed by New York State, through its energy agency NYSERDA.
🔒 Member-only content. 🔒
🔒 Member-only content. 🔒
OR
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