What Exactly Is A Smart City?

December 12, 2012

By: Boyd Cohen
Via: Co.Exist

Smart CityBefore you start pushing for smarter cities, it helps to know exactly what you’re advocating for.

Having worked in the smart cities space for several years now, I am encouraged by the growth of the sector and the pace of technological advancements being developed for urban environments. However, I believe that the smart-cities movement is being held back by a lack of clarity and consensus around what a smart city is and what the components of a smart city actually are.

While some people continue to take a narrow view of smart cities by seeing them as places that make better use of information and communication technology (ICT), the cities I work with (and most of the participants in the #smartchat, a monthly Twitterchat about smart cities held on the first Wednesday of each month) all view smart cities as a broad, integrated approach to improving the efficiency of city operations, the quality of life for its citizens, and growing the local economy.

Later this year, I’ll publish my annual rankings of smart cities here on Co.Exist. In order to improve them, I have been working on a new rubric for smart cities, that I call the Smart Cities Wheel.

Smart Cities WheelThis model has been inspired by the work of many others, including the Center of Regional Science at Vienna University of Technology, Siemens’ work with the Green City Index, and Buenos Aires’ “Modelo Territorial” among others.

Most cities can agree that there is real value in having a smart economy, smart environmental practices, smart governance, smart living, smart mobility, and smart people. Within each of these aspirational goals, I have included three key drivers to achieving the goal. There are over 100 indicators to help cities track their performance with specific actions developed for specific needs.

Let’s walk through a high-level example of how a real city could use the Smart Cities Wheel to develop and implement a smart cities strategy.

STEP 1: CREATE A VISION WITH CITIZEN ENGAGEMENT

Vancouver’s Mayor Robertson, and many before him, have sought to take leadership in the green cities arena. Mayor Robertson and his Greenest City Action Team engaged 30,000+ citizens in a process designed to establish a 2020 goal for the city. The city used “social media and digital technologies to spark citizen-led public-engagement activities like kitchen table discussions at private homes, online discussion forums and workshops at community centres,” according to Straight.com. I participated in this process, including speaking on the plan’s behalf to the Vancouver City Council.

The result is the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan, which has set a clear goal for the city to become the greenest in the world by 2020. Vancouver aspires to lead the world in at least one of the six aspirational goals of the Smart City Wheel (Smart Enviro).

Smart cities would also make use of the latest technology to acquire citizen input, like CivicPlus, which offers a range of software and mobile tools for cities to communicate and engage citizens in a dialog about city projects (Castle Rock, Colorado used CivicPlus to get input on the plans for a new city park).

STEP 2: DEVELOP BASELINES, SET TARGETS, AND CHOOSE INDICATORS

Before creating numerical targets for achieving a smart city vision, it is helpful to actually benchmark where you are. Let’s take Smart Mobility as an example. The Smart Cities Wheel has three key drivers for Smart Mobility: mixed-modal access; prioritized clean and non-motorized options; and integrated ICT.

Each city has its own mobility needs and challenges based on density, topography, existing infrastructure, etc., and while they can learn from each other, cities must develop their own benchmarks and targets around areas of need and opportunity.

It is impossible to overlook Copenhagen’s efforts to promote and prioritize cycling. In 1981 the city developed its first cycling plan and it has been evolving its cycling and mixed-modal goals since 2002.

Before establishing a forward-looking target, cities must establish the baseline. Copenhagen has been measuring cycling and mixed modal use for decades. Now the city has a target indicator: to achieve 50% of all trips to work or school by bike by 2015. The city has been making significant progress towards this goal, having already achieved 37% in 2009. Copenhagen also recently collaborated with MIT to create The Copenhagen Wheel, a hybrid bike wheel that leverages sensors in a bike wheel to monitor pollution, traffic congestion, and road conditions in real time. This is an example of an action within the other smart mobility driver–integrated ICT.

STEP 3: GO LEAN

In a previous post, I discussed how cities could and should embrace lean startup principles. Once a city has established quantifiable goals and selected the indicators to measure its progress, it needs to snag some early wins while also building plans for longer-term actions.

The journey to becoming a smart city will stall without a major commitment to supporting efficient, multi-modal transit. Electric vehicles and the appropriate infrastructure appear in many smart-city strategies. However, few places have the resources or demand to install EV charging stations throughout the city. It makes sense for a city to start with a pilot project as a way to get feedback on their hypothesis that by putting charging stations in a particular location, the stations will be used and will actually grow the amount of EV vehicle purchases by citizens living or working in the area.

Toronto just announced a pilot charging station program at a cost of $65,000 to the city. Councillor Mike Layton recognizes the benefits of this small-scale action: “We all know that this is the direction that singular vehicle transport is going in,” said Layton in the National Post. “Why we wouldn’t at least try out something at very limited cost to the city, to get ready for the revolution that is going to happen, is beyond me.”

Smart cities are not one size fits all. Yet, the smart-cities movement could benefit from frameworks like the Smart Cities Wheel that allow a common language to develop amongst citizens, city staff, mayors, and the private sector.

Business Cards Give Way to Cellphone Apps for Networking

November 26, 2012

By: Julie Weed
Via: The New York Times

Sandy Avvari
The business card has long since left the realm of the office Rolodex and entered the world of the Web.

Business acquaintances and meeting attendees now transmit contact information between cellphones, and Web sites and mobile apps can connect that information to social and business networks.

Sandy Avvari, a digital and social media analyst at a Canadian automotive manufacturer, said she met about 15 people a week in her job but exchanged paper business cards only about 20 percent of the time. “We’re much more likely to exchange Twitter handles or connect to each other on LinkedIn,” she said.

Ms. Avvari said she used CardMunch, a free app, to take a photograph of a business card and send it to a service that transcribes the information and adds it to her phone’s address book. CardMunch is owned by LinkedIn, and so if the person is a member, a photo and basic profile of the business card’s owner appear on Ms. Avvari’s phone, allowing her to connect with the person on that service.

Attaching a LinkedIn profile to the business card “makes the contact dynamic, showing job changes or new phone numbers when they happen,” Ms. Avvari said. “It becomes more than a static piece of paper or address book entry.”

With the free app Bump, users can bump or tap their phones together to share contact information. The phones vibrate when they, or the hands holding them, make contact, and information is exchanged between the users’ address books.

If both users are signed into Facebook or LinkedIn, a list of acquaintances they have in common on those sites and in their address books will be displayed. Users can also transmit a photo, for example, of a product they sell if they are meeting at a trade show. Once two people have exchanged data, they can stay in touch using a messaging feature in the app. Bump works across platforms on Android and Apple devices.

With so many contacts flooding into business travelers’ address books, the details of how they met, what they talked about or why someone may be a good contact in the future can fade. Apps like Contacts Journal ($7.99 for iOS, or a free trial version) help users keep track of interactions. Documents like contracts or brochures can be attached to contact information, and users can see a map with pushpins denoting their contacts’ locations.

Many networking apps go beyond electronic business card exchanges and mobile contact databases. LinkedIn is the largest player in the business networking market, with more than 187 million members around the world. In addition to displaying their résumés online, LinkedIn members “connect” to people they know on the service, creating a virtual who-knows-whom map. Job seekers can look for a specific hiring manager and see if they have any connections in common. An employer evaluating a job candidate can get a trusted reference from someone they both know.

The basic functions of LinkedIn are free for individual users. For a monthly fee ranging from $16 to $500, users can gain access to additional search features and contact other members directly without waiting for an electronic introduction.

To network while on a business trip, travelers can use the free Planely Web site to type in their flight itineraries and see who else is traveling at the same time, with overlapping flight plans. Conference- or conventiongoers might find other attendees to share a taxi to the hotel, for instance. Nervous fliers might find someone to take their mind off a long or bumpy flight. The app lists all the Planely travelers on the user’s flight and those who are passing through the airport at the same time, to create a “social flying experience.”

Some networking apps use the phone owner’s location. The Friendthem app works with Facebook, displaying all members who are nearby and have signed up to be visible. This allows two people who meet at a conference, or perhaps at a hotel bar, to become Facebook friends easily, without having to search through a list of similar names to find the right person.

Friend requests can be sent to people who appear nearby, but no instant messaging is available because “our users don’t want creepy people sending them messages like, ‘I see you across the room,’ ” said Charles Sankowich, chief executive and founder of Friendthem. “We want our users to have total control of who communicates with them.” Friendthem also allows users to specify “hiding places,” like home or work, where they want to be invisible.

At home or on the road, the MeetMe app can offer two people convenient locations to meet. Users can choose the type of restaurant they want and use a slider bar to specify whether the meeting place should be equidistant from the two people or closer to one of them. The app also displays user reviews of meeting places and information from Yelp.com, along with directions.

There are, of course, downsides to the constant tracking of business colleagues. Networking apps make it harder to excuse not getting in touch with people by claiming you lost their card or did not know they had changed jobs. “The location-aware apps can also be tricky,” said James Sun, chief executive of Pirq, a mobile app developer in Seattle, “because once someone knows you are in the area, can you avoid having coffee with them?”

And the convenience and abundance of digital contact can be overwhelming, said David Domke, a communications professor at the University of Washington. People can become almost numb to the constant stream of data. “That’s why face to face, human interaction between people has become even more valuable in the digital age,” he said.

Still, users say social media can make initial business meetings less awkward. When she was applying for her current job, Ms. Avvari found the hiring manager’s Twitter stream and noticed they shared a love of baked goods. During the interview, Ms. Avvari brought up her own passion for food and her food blog, which she might not have mentioned otherwise, and the two hit it off.

“Whether it’s an employer or customer, I think few people realize how valuable researching them on social media can be for business,” she said.

Twitter also offers in-person networking on the road. At conferences, there might be a Twitter hashtag, Ms. Avvari said, like #CIAS for the Canadian International Auto Show, so attendees can see one another’s posts. “Sometimes I’ll see a funny or interesting tweet and ask to meet that person for coffee during one of the breaks,” she said.

Krista Canfield, a spokeswoman for LinkedIn, said she used the site to meet people when she traveled for her job. “If I am going to Japan or Brazil and I don’t know anyone,” she said, “I try to connect with people who know someone in my network and meet them for a meal, instead of eating alone.”

More Prestigious Colleges Offer Courses Online

November 22, 2012

By:Stephen Smith
Via: Marketplace
OnlineEducation - StudentClick for AudioLast spring, Harvard and MIT announced a $60 million plan to make scores of their courses available for free online. The partnership, called edX, aims to reach a billion people around the world.

“This is the year of disruption for education,” says MIT computer scientist Anant Agarwal, the president of edX. “The time is right because the Internet is available in large parts of the world. Computers and tablets have become relatively low cost. Things are moving extremely, extremely fast.”

edX is part of a nationwide movement led by three big players. Udacity and Coursera are free education companies based in California. edX is in Cambridge, Mass. The goal for all three of them is to make education available to people worldwide for free. But Anant Agarwal says that edX also has a mission to improve teaching. He says computer technology can help tailor courses to how 21st century college students work and live.

“We are finding that most students watch video between 12 and 2 at night, but we still make them come to lectures early in the morning,” says Agarwal. “But by making available online videos with interaction built in we can make learning available at any place, any time, to anyone.”

A video that introduces one of the initial courses now online at edX announces, “This is CS50! Computer Science 50 is Harvard’s introduction to computer science and art of programming for majors and non-majors…”

Harvard Provost Allan Garber explains that the edX software can record every keystroke and mouseclick that a student makes. That means education researchers will have a fine-grained view of how learners use online lectures, study guides and quizzes.

“One of the beautiful things about online education is that as we improve the tools for teaching and learning, we also learn more about how our students are using these tools. This is a virtuous cycle,” says Garber.

The so-called massively open online course,or MOOC, may change the way students learn not only at Harvard, but also at schools across the United States. As states cut their budgets many public colleges and universities are struggling to teach more students with less money. Schools are looking for ways to cut costs. Terry Moe, a political scientist at the Hoover Intuition at Stanford, says mid-tier colleges ought to tap into the free course-ware from leading universities like Harvard to offer more and better classes to their local students.

“Suppose you have some Pulitzer Prize-wining historian who is a fantastic lecturer on the civil war? Why should they take pot luck and walk into some classroom and get some professor whose not nearly as good as this person. OK it’s that kind of thing, but applied across the full range of subjects,” says Moe.

Moe says struggling schools could teach classes and more students, but with fewer professors.

“This is just a bigger bang for buck way of providing kids with a quality education,” says Moe.

The free classes offered by big-name universities may have another unintended effect on higher education — cheaper degrees.

“There’s going top be the invention of lots of low-cost universities now that take these component parts from Coursera or from an edX and assemble it together in coherent degrees that’ll cost $1,000 or $2,000,” says Michael Horn, a technology expert at the Innosight Institute, a Silicon Valley think-tank.

Horn says these low-cost, online programs would be a “grave danger” to middle-tier colleges and universities in the U.S — those schools that are not particularly well-known nor especially affordable.

“Because why would I go to an institution that has very little brand for $15,000 a year when I could go to a low-cost model and be taking the best of the best from MIT, Dartmouth, Harvard, wherever,” he says. “That I think is going to challenge things quite a bit in the years to come.”

The elite universities experimenting with massively open online courses do not expect their free web-based programs to cut into the current demand for their traditional, on-campus experience. Plenty of students will still want to live in dorms and meet their professors in classrooms. But when the cost of college can run more than $60,000 a year at the most selective schools, a free virtual classroom starts to look pretty good.

Eight Crowdfunding Sites For Social Entrepreneurs

November 9, 2012

By: Devin Thorpe
Via: Forbes

If money is the only thing stopping you from doing something good in the world, stop waiting and start doing some good!

Nothing better symbolizes entrepreneurship than fundraising. Social entrepreneurs are no different. Today, there are a host of on-line resources for crowdfunding that social entrepreneurs can use to fund their projects, films, books, and social ventures. Today, I’ll briefly profile eight.
Yancey Strickler - Kickstarter
1. Kickstarter.com: Kickstarter is the 800 pound gorilla in crowdfunding, originally designed and built for creative arts, many technology entrepreneurs now use the site, some reporting to have raised millions of dollars. The Kickstarter funding model is an all-or-nothing model. You set a goal for your raise; if your raise exceeds the goal, you keep all the money, otherwise your supporters don’t pay and you don’t get anything. This protects supporters from some of the risk of your running out of money before your project is completed.

2. StartSomeGood.com: StartSomeGood, which I used to raise some money for my book, Your Mark On The World, is great for early-stage social good projects that are not (yet) 501(c)(3) registered nonprofits. StartSomeGood uses a unique “tipping point” model for fundraising, allowing you to set a funding goal and a lower “tipping point” at which your project can minimally proceed and where you will collect the money you raise.

3. Indiegogo.com: Indiegogo allows you to raise money for absolutely anything, using an optional “keep what you raise” model with higher fees or pay less to use an all-or-nothing funding approach.

5. Pozible.com: Pozible, run from Australia, has a global platform for all types of projects, emphasizing “creative projects and ideas” and specifically precludes fundraising for charities. Pozible operates with an all-or-nothing funding model.

6. Causes.com: Causes is designed specifically for 501(c)(3) registered nonprofits to raise money. The fees are low and all donors on the site understand that all of the contributions will be tax deductible. Causes is widely used to launch “action” campaigns, like boycotts, petitions and pledges rather than fundraising campaigns.

Fundraising in the dictionary (Photo credit-HowardLake)7. Razoo.com: Razoo boasts that it has now helped 14,000 causes raise over $100 million. This site is exclusively for social good causes but is not limited to 501(c)(3), using a keep-what-you-raise model, charging just 2.9% of money raised.

8. Crowdrise.com: Crowdrise is a site for 501(c)(3) charities to raise money, with the novelty being that anyone can sign up to volunteer to launch a fundraising campaign for a charity already registered on the site. Everyone can instantly become a social entrepreneur for a cause they believe in.

All of these sites are making great things happen for real people every day, advancing the arts, entrepreneurship and philanthropy in myriad ways. Check them all out and decide which one is the best for you.

Note that in general, the tax deductibility of donations made on these sites is determined by the tax status of the organization to which you donate and not by the crowdfunding site used. Donations made through any of the sites to a 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit will generally be tax deductible for U.S. donors who itemize deductions on their tax returns. Check with your tax accountant if you have questions before you make a donation.

How An Upstart Company In Detroit Is Building An American Heritage Brand

November 7, 2012

By: Kyle VanHemert
Via: Co.Design

AN AMBITIOUS NEW MANUFACTURING COMPANY IS REPURPOSING THE SHINOLA BRAND (AS IN “YOU DON’T KNOW S**T FROM … “) TO TELL A UNIQUE STORY OF AMERICAN CRAFTSMANSHIP.

Shinola Wallet
Having your brand name become part of the common lexicon is a marketing coup of the highest order. It’s debatable, though, whether or not that applies when the expression in question is “You don’t know shit from Shinola.” But with the idea that any name recognition is good name recognition, the folks at Bedrock Manufacturing decided that Shinola, the popular mid-century shoe polish brand, was just the right mark to reintroduce for their new line of American-made watches, bikes, and other leather goods. As they’ve started putting their manufacturing operation in place, however, Shinola has proven not only to be a familiar name but also a reminder of how products can benefit from the stories behind them.

Shinola workers
The brand revival started last year, when Bedrock set out to create a new line of high-end leather accessories. From the start, the venture was not only about the products themselves but where they would be produced: Here at home, in the U.S. In Bedrock’s eyes, the new company would be a throwback to a time when goods were built to last, when customers weighed price points with quality, and, most importantly, when those customers had an interest in who was building the products–and where.

It would be a company steeped in the values of an older era, and the founding team wanted a name to match. “We didn’t want to try to invent a name that had heritage and pretend there was history behind it,” COO Heath Carr says, so they looked for inactive brands that were on the market. They eventually came across Shinola, along with the “ever-so-famous saying that comes with the name,” Carr says.

Next came finding a new home. After looking at a number of cities, the team decided to establish the company in Detroit, the former manufacturing powerhouse and something of an American throwback itself. It’s a tidy fit that, like the Shinola name, Detroit too is in the early stages of a 21st-century reinvention.

Shinola Watch Factory
In Detroit, the first order of business was finding a building to house their new watch factory, and the location they settled on was one that surprised everyone involved. The visiting Shinola team had been invited to tour the College of Creative Studies, a design school located in the historic (and recently renovated) Argonaut Building, simply to get a taste of Detroit’s young creative talent. An elevator malfunction, Carr recalls, led to a serendipitous discovery: “The elevator, for unknown reasons, accidentally stops on the fifth floor. And the fifth floor is completely empty. And we looked around and said, ‘This is perfect! You guys mind if we build a watch factory here?’”

Building a state-of-the-art watch factory above a design school isn’t what anyone had in mind, Carr admits, but “both parties said, ‘let’s give it a try.’ We didn’t sit down and talk about all the reasons not to do it,” Carr says, “we just talked about the reasons to do it.” The watchmaking logistics of the factory itself were handled by Ronda, a family operation that’s one of the last independent Swiss movement manufacturers in the world. The fifth-floor factory, staffed with Ronda-trained local workers, is currently nearing completion, built with a manufacturing capacity of 500,000 watches a year.

Making sure they partnered with a trusted name in watchmaking from the start was important, Carr says. “Our focus first and foremost is quality. If we’re gonna make it here and it’s gonna have the Shinola name on it, it’s going to be … a very high-quality product.” And of course, a good story can only get you so far if the products don’t live up to it. But Daniel Caudill, Shinola’s creative director, explained how that quality was, in many ways, a driving force behind the design of the watches themselves.

“The whole idea is to create a product that is somewhat evergreen,” he told me, “where it’s not about the bells and the whistles and all of the accessories. It’s really about getting to the base of what that product is: How do you use it, what are you using to make it, how are you making it. So it’s really about stripping it down to its bare essentials and, whatever it is, making it with the best materials and the absolute best construction.”

Shinola Watch Factory
Of course, that dedication to quality and insistence on domestic manufacturing means a higher price-point–Shinola’s looking at the $400 to $800 range. But Carr thinks there’s another part of that equation that will work out in their favor. “Having ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ comes at a premium, there’s no doubt about that. But we believe that the consumers that are interested in our product care a lot about the story, about what’s behind it,” he says. “It’s not just a leather good, it’s not just a watch. It’s a watch that’s made in the United States that has a fantastic story behind it.”

The company’s currently finalizing the designs for the watch, and they’re planning on rolling out a line of bikes, wallets, journals, and more in coming months, each pulling together suppliers, craftsmen, and manufacturers from around the country. Now that the pieces are in place, the challenge the company faces next is equally timeless. “We’re about to begin the very first [watch],” Carr says. “So our path is ‘how do we get from one to 500,000?’”

Find out more on the Shinola site.

NYC Launches Competition To Promote 3-D Printing And Innovative Manufacturing

October 18, 2012

By: NYC.gov
Via: Mike Bloomberg

Maker Bot 3-D PrinterMayor Bloomberg and New York City Economic Development Corporation Seth W. Pinsky today announced the launch of “New York’s Next Top Makers,” a competition to promote 3-D printing and innovation in New York City. The competition will act as a business accelerator for New York City-based entrepreneurs, inventors and makers, who will be judged by a panel of experts as well as the the public and will receive assistance on the path to commercialization, including studio space, business support and mentorship from industry experts including Shapeways, Adafruit Industries, and Honeybee Robotics.

Mayor Bloomberg made the announcement at the ribbon-cutting for Shapeways’ new 25,000-square-foot “Factory of the Future,” a production and distribution center, in Long Island City, Queens. The space is under construction and on its way to becoming the biggest consumer-facing 3-D printing manufacturing facility in the world, with the potential to 3-D print three to five million unique products each year on high-end, industrial size printers. The facility will house between 30 and 50 industrial-size 3-D printers and create as many as 50 manufacturing jobs. The Mayor was joined by Peter Weijmarshausen, CEO and co-founder of Shapeways, Empire State Development Corporation President Ken Adams, Maureen Vogelaar, COO of Shapeways, New York City Chief Digital Officer Rachel Hoat and Gayle Baron, President of the LIC Partnership.

“This contest will make sure New York City stays on the cutting edge of 3-D printing, an exciting new industry with virtually unlimited potential, and which could completely revolutionize manufacturing,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “New York City – the center of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship – is a natural home for Shapeways, and we look forward to seeing what kinds of exciting products – and quality jobs – they can create.”

“Innovation and entrepreneurship are at the heart of Mayor Bloomberg’s economic development strategy, and with this new competition we will help ensure that more and more entrepreneurs choose to call New York home,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel. “Shapeways’ decision to relocate to Long Island City is the latest evidence that New York is a magnet for talent and ideas.”

“Rapid prototyping and 3-D printing have the potential to transform manufacturing in New York City,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President Pinsky. “Initiatives such as New York’s Next Top Makers will allow us to capitalize on this potential and strengthen this emerging industry. The winners of this competition will receive helpful resources to launch new and innovative products, and will receive access to critical mentorship opportunities, aiding them in their expansion plans.”

“We’re thrilled to support the New York City’s prototyping competition and help entrepreneurs bring their innovative products to market,” said Weijmarshausen, Shapeways CEO and Co-Founder. “New York is a creative epicenter with thousands of designers and innovators, many of whom are now using Shapeways to bring their products to life. We hope the competition further enables hardware and product innovation.”
“Adafruit has thrived in New York City as an electronics manufacturer and educational company,” Limor Fried, Founder and Engineer, Adafruit Industries. “The old saying goes if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere – but there isn’t any other city in the world we could have grown and built our company. I’m looking forward to working with the next generation of makers, business leaders and New Yorkers who want to make the next big thing in New York City!”

“NYDesigns is thrilled to sponsor this competition, which aligns perfectly with our mission to support design and manufacturing entrepreneurship in New York,” said Natalia Argüello, Director, NYDesigns at LaGuardia Community College / CUNY.

The competition will be organized into four phases over the course of the next year:

• From approximately mid-November 2012 through February 2013, entrepreneurs will upload submissions, including filmed pitches of the product they plan to bring to market.

• Following the submission period, qualifying entries will be posted online. While expert judges select the five most promising entries, and the public will vote for a “people’s choice” entry.

• Over five months, from approximately April 2013 to August 2013, the six selected finalists will participate in a five-month design studio, to further develop their product ideas. During this process they will receive studio space provided by competition sponsor NYDesigns, as well as technical support, materials, access to equipment and mentorship from industry leaders such as Shapeways, Adafruit Industries and Honeybee Robotics.

• At a final public pitch event and expo in September 2013, during the second annual Maker Week, judges will assess the success of the emerging businesses and award additional cash prizes the most promising business.

The competition resulted from a New York City Economic Development Corporation study of the New York City 3-D printing and fabrication ecosystem. Rapid prototyping and fabrication enables designers, engineers, and tech entrepreneurs to use computer-controlled fabrication tools such as laser cutters, 3-D printers, and milling machines to develop new products quicker and at a lower cost—lowering the barrier of entry to many industrial fields. While New York City is already a hub of this emerging technology, “New York’s Next Top Makers” is one of several initiatives the City’s Economic Development Corporation identified to further build on the existing community by connecting designers, engineers and entrepreneurs with rapid prototyping equipment, educational resources, and potential clients.

“The City Council celebrates the important contribution of 3-D printing to the future of advanced manufacturing and the creation of good paying jobs right here in New York City,” said City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “In February, we announced a substantial investment to reuse and modernize underutilized industrial space to attract more cutting-edge manufacturing companies that don’t require the same large spaces industrial companies once did. I thank Mayor Bloomberg, Economic Development Corporation President Pinsky and Deputy Mayor Steel for their continued dedication to diversifying our economy and creating jobs, and Shapeways for helping to bring this new technology to our city.”

“Shapeways’ ‘Factory of the Future’ is a welcome addition to our neighborhood, bringing new jobs and increasing Long Island City’s prominence as a hub for technology, business growth and economic development,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris. “I thank Governor Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg and the Coalition for Queens for their efforts to build the tech industry in western Queens and look forward to welcoming more job-creating companies like Shapeways to our community.”

“Whenever we open a plant that adds jobs, creates new opportunities and expands a business, we are deeply grateful to all those involved,” said Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. “I am certain that Shapeways will do well here in Long Island City, home to more than 30,000 residents and a dramatic growth in housing and economic activity.”

“Shapeways is an important example of a growing industrial & tech business in Long Island City,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer. “Western Queens is booming, thanks to policies and practices put into place to help these businesses succeed. Assuring continued job growth for start-ups and mature companies alike is essentially important.”

Partnering with the City on the competition are Shapeways, Adafruit Industries, Honeybee Robotics and the competition will be managed by ChallengePost. Shapeways is an online 3-D printing marketplace headquartered and producing in New York City after moving its facilities here from the Netherlands. Adafruit Industries is a New York City-based company that sells kits and parts for original, open source hardware electronics projects and was founded by MIT graduate Limor Fried. Honeybee Robotics is a Manhattan-based technology and product developer focusing on advanced robotic and spacecraft systems, such as componentry for NASA’s latest mission to Mars. ChallengePost is a competition platform focused on driving innovation and engagement, and with previous experience managing similar competitions such as BigApps.

NYDesigns is sponsoring this program by providing free studio space, at their facility at 45-50 30th Street in Long Island City, for all of the six winners. NYDesigns is an economic development program within the Adult and Continuing Education Department at LaGuardia Community College of the City University of New York. NYDesigns was founded in 2004 to support the economic competitiveness of design and creative businesses in New York by conducting small business and entrepreneurship research and providing counseling, education, and technical assistance. Since its creation, NYDesigns has served over 8,000 design entrepreneurs in the fields of product and industrial, fashion, interior, graphic, web, and communication design, as well as architecture.

The competition builds on 22 initiatives announced in June 2011, by Mayor Bloomberg, in partnership with the City Council, that will revitalize, modernize, and preserve up to 9 million square feet of underutilized industrial space, and create and retain up to 30,000 direct and indirect industrial jobs, generate annual payroll earnings of more than $900 million and more than $150 million in City tax revenue. The industrial sector is an integral part of the City’s economy that has faced serious challenges in recent decades, but now offers real opportunities for growth and development.

The initiatives resulted from an inter-agency review of the City’s industrial policies, led by Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Steel, New York City Economic Development Corporation President Pinsky, Department of Small Business Services Commissioner Robert W. Walsh and City Planning Commissioner Amanda M. Burden. The review found that while the City’s industrial sector has been declining in line with national trends of 8 percent annually over the past 10 years, there are certain subsectors showing stability and growth. As offshoring costs increase, it is anticipated that industrial activities will continue to grow nationwide. New York City in particular offers unique location-based advantages for industrial activity, including a population of about 8.4 million, access to a large workforce and highly-skilled labor, and one of the nation’s busiest ports based on import volume. The review also found that industrial businesses in the City are challenged by a lack of building stock appropriate for modern industrial uses, higher costs, and difficulty maneuvering City processes. Industrial sectors account for 15 percent of New York City’s overall private employment and more than 23 percent of employment outside of Manhattan, and industrial jobs have a mean wage of $67,000.