Mapping What Matters Underneath Cities

Mapping What Matters Underneath Cities

All too often, city residents ignore what happens underneath their feet, realizing after an unexpected explosion or other incident, the sheer amount of design, construction and maintenance talent supporting energy and infrastructure layers that are the foundation of our above-ground lifestyles, businesses and environments.

The engineering and navigation of sub-surface operations, rights-of-way and easements is an archeology of municipal records, archiving the civilization of urban spaces.  All too often, such records are scattered, in public and private collections, subject to being lost, mishandled, unauthenticated or simply forgotten.

When the emergency happens, multiple agencies of federal, state and local government, utilities, commercial and residential property owners, insurers and others get involved to re-generate collective memory of what broke, what is worth fixing to status quo ante, and what would be best replaced with newer, more resilient infrastructure and technology.  Reconstruction is delayed because of the information that is missing or needs to be revalidated.  Insurance settlements and new premium rates reflect the information delays and asymmetries.

Transparency tools, such as building information models geospatially organized like a three-ring binder to align with a shared accurate street base map can start the process of planning for more sustainable and resilient systems. In turn, the models permit stress-tests and aging scenarios that improve collaborative reconstruction of sub-surface systems, and even identify vacant vault space or recyclable heat and water that can be used by smart buildings to reduce energy costs and environmental impacts.

Bruce Cahan

Bruce Cahan is CEO and co-founder of Urban Logic, a nonprofit that harnesses finance and technology to change how systems think, act and feel. He is an Ashoka Fellow, a Consulting Professor at Stanford University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and a CodeX Fellow at Stanford's Center for Legal Informatics. Bruce was trained as an international finance lawyer at Weil Gotshal & Manges in NYC (10 years) and as merchant banker at Asian Oceanic in Hong Kong (2 years). Bruce graduated The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (B.S. Economics 1976) and Temple Law School (J.D. 1979), and is licensed as a lawyer in California (2006), New York (1980) and Pennsylvania (1980).

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Monoculture Thinking is Unnatural & Unhealthy
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Monoculture Thinking is Unnatural & Unhealthy

Biomimicry pioneer Janine Benyus has wisely observed that Nature is a design studio, where optimizing sustainability (of planetary lifeforms) and resiliency (navigating climate, species and extraterrestrial impacts) comes through millions of years of adaptability experiments.

Nature Values Diversity

Nature relies on multiple species to sequester carbon and improve nutrients for soils in vastly different climates and geographies.  Nature relies on regular seismic, forest fire, flood and migration patterns to disseminate species diversity, and to capitalize on the extreme events as fortuitous opportunities for establishing new homes for life and species’ advantage.

Our species acts constantly to master Nature, to overcome its unpredictability.  In doing so, we seem increasingly to favor the politics of monocultures – where one “go right” thinker group tries to outshout the “go left” thinker group, setting in motion a battle of monocultural belief as the supreme goal, regardless of its impacts on people, their neighborhoods and the planet.

Natural human rights to a home, healthcare, a job, retirement and other refined benefits of modernity in the “Developed World” are  Nature’s goals for other species in repurposing their ecosystems and behavioral economics.  On the one hand, “survival of the fittest” rules the animal and plant kingdoms providing nutrition, shelter and reuse of organic waste.  On the other hand, each species’ grazing in close proximity and instincts for social response can assure more of a given species survive, especially when threatened from internal and external predators and hazardous conditions.

Monoculture Politics

While Nature cherishes diversity of adaptive response, as humans, our political dialogue seems often to steer by which monologue of belief system is being reinforced by bludgeoning the perceived “other side.”  Instead of “human rights,” champions of one demographic’s rights shrilly and gleefully can ignore other’s rights.  For example, opponents of universal health care seem perfectly happy to ignore the biological and economic pandemic effects of letting the sick remain in suffering, dragging down urban economic vitality and intergenerational family survival.  Likewise, champions of women’s rights go silent when it comes to supporting the equal parenting and economic survival rights of men.  These tugs of war set up and maintain monoculture beliefs.  They create tribes to in-fight ideals.  They consume vast bandwidth on social and mainstream media.  They obscure the basic human dignity that all demographies, geographies and contexts for human quality of life demand, with equal concern, just in their right to speak for consequential Natural good.

Nature, the Design Coach for Leveraging Diversity

It is time to shed monoculture politics as social ideal.  Where Natural Rights could life all boats, the results of letting everyone fend for themselves – for finding a good education, job, home, honorable work, healthcare, nutrition – pulls us downward.

To justify monoculture politics, certain actors in each expert community get funded to build standalone White Ivory Towers, replete with algorithmic math that “assumes away” most other real world constraints and interdependencies with other aspects of quality of life, in order to reach  their funder’s ideal optimization or preferred solution or pre-ordained status quo.

Big Data springs from Big Models.  It is time to begin linking the languages of Big Models so as to build more adaptation from the limited resources each expert group (community of practice) is likely to receive through the political reality of annual budget cycles and recurring recessions.

Bruce Cahan

Bruce Cahan is CEO and co-founder of Urban Logic, a nonprofit that harnesses finance and technology to change how systems think, act and feel. He is an Ashoka Fellow, a Consulting Professor at Stanford University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and a CodeX Fellow at Stanford's Center for Legal Informatics. Bruce was trained as an international finance lawyer at Weil Gotshal & Manges in NYC (10 years) and as merchant banker at Asian Oceanic in Hong Kong (2 years). Bruce graduated The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (B.S. Economics 1976) and Temple Law School (J.D. 1979), and is licensed as a lawyer in California (2006), New York (1980) and Pennsylvania (1980).

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Vatican, Banking, Ethics & Money

Vatican, Banking, Ethics & Money

The Vatican has been a bell-weather of human rights concerns and research for centuries. His Holiness Pope Francis’ personal commitment to put actions in front of the Holy See’s words are having a profound effect in Vatican City and globally.

The Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice, led by His Eminence Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson from Ghana, is responsible for developing policy and nudging its implementation on issues that include business ethics, and the conduct of business leaders and their bankers.  The Vocation of a Business Leader captures recent policy research and thought.

Initially in October 2012, and then as part of the Pontifical Council’s Colloquium  on the theme Banking on the Common Good, Finance for the Common Good on May 13, 2013,Urban Logic has brought forward our design work on high-transparency, impacts aware banking and related research to inform the Vatican’s (and our own) interfaith dialogue on creating banks and training bankers to handle money that is authentic in achieving its intent and impact, ethically.  From little acorns, giant chestnut trees grow!

For more on the May event, Cardinal Turkson’s interview and the Pontifical Council’s press release are here, and Vatican Radio’s coverage here.

Practicing What is Preached...As importantly, informal conversations with the new head of the IOR (Vatican Bank) on that Monday May 13th, were prelude to the Bank agreeing om May 22nd for the first time to release its financial monitor’s reports – Transparency momentum in action is good to see!

By September (2013), the Pope was speaking out regularly, decrying the idolatry of seeking money as an end goal or end game, and urging the globalized economy to return to the core functions of providing meaningful employment, and the honorable reality of a job creating meaningful lives.

Bruce Cahan

Bruce Cahan is CEO and co-founder of Urban Logic, a nonprofit that harnesses finance and technology to change how systems think, act and feel. He is an Ashoka Fellow, a Consulting Professor at Stanford University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and a CodeX Fellow at Stanford's Center for Legal Informatics. Bruce was trained as an international finance lawyer at Weil Gotshal & Manges in NYC (10 years) and as merchant banker at Asian Oceanic in Hong Kong (2 years). Bruce graduated The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (B.S. Economics 1976) and Temple Law School (J.D. 1979), and is licensed as a lawyer in California (2006), New York (1980) and Pennsylvania (1980).

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Banking on Altruism

Banking on Altruism

Fear is Fake Collateral, Rugged Individualism is Bankers’ Mythology

In his May 2013 TEDxHayward Talk entitled Adjacencies Revealed, Urban Logic’s founder shared thinking that developed in dialogue with Dr. James Doty and Dr. Daniel Martin of Stanford’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research (C-CARE) that could build stronger banks and bank customer user experiences.

Bruce Cahan

Bruce Cahan is CEO and co-founder of Urban Logic, a nonprofit that harnesses finance and technology to change how systems think, act and feel. He is an Ashoka Fellow, a Consulting Professor at Stanford University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and a CodeX Fellow at Stanford's Center for Legal Informatics. Bruce was trained as an international finance lawyer at Weil Gotshal & Manges in NYC (10 years) and as merchant banker at Asian Oceanic in Hong Kong (2 years). Bruce graduated The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (B.S. Economics 1976) and Temple Law School (J.D. 1979), and is licensed as a lawyer in California (2006), New York (1980) and Pennsylvania (1980).

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Why Sustainable Banking Matters at Stanford

Why Sustainable Banking Matters at Stanford

At Stanford University, in the Engineering School, and in the d.school (Design School), and in the Law School’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy & Finance, in the Graduate School of Business, and nearly all parts of the campus, sustainability matters.

Stanford is buzzing with students and faculty creating next-generation energy, construction, transportation, food, housing and other solutions that extend the lifecycle of resources used by our generation, and steward resources for future generations.

Designing solutions that repurpose the built environment and respect Nature’s own design quest to add resiliency that mitigates climate and other conditions is admirable.  In their own expert and innovative ways, biomimicry writ large.

Whither the bankers?  Where liveth they?  Harken the bankers back to a world underwriting to profit capital by destroying human or natural capital?  Is the legacy of un-sustainability banking – even digitized to nanosecond trading efficiency – the best that can be innovated?

In order to redesign sustainable cities and businesses, the banks that hold our deposits and create the rules for lending capital must understand sustainability, and must evolve to create Sustainable Banking that keeps the bank safe as an institution, keeps the customer of the bank safe throughout their personal or business lifecycle, and keeps the regions impacted and their quality of life safe.

When the Stanford graduates with sustainability ideas and business plans tucked into their gaps and gowns can show up in a bank and have a banker reward the startup business for adding sustainability, the banks will be safer, and make regional  of life safer, for all.

Through an active collaboration with Stanford, Urban Logic is pushing forward a Sustainable Banking Affiliates Program, and more:  Check out – SustainableBanking.Stanford.edu.

Bruce Cahan

Bruce Cahan is CEO and co-founder of Urban Logic, a nonprofit that harnesses finance and technology to change how systems think, act and feel. He is an Ashoka Fellow, a Consulting Professor at Stanford University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and a CodeX Fellow at Stanford's Center for Legal Informatics. Bruce was trained as an international finance lawyer at Weil Gotshal & Manges in NYC (10 years) and as merchant banker at Asian Oceanic in Hong Kong (2 years). Bruce graduated The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (B.S. Economics 1976) and Temple Law School (J.D. 1979), and is licensed as a lawyer in California (2006), New York (1980) and Pennsylvania (1980).

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Commercial Property investors start tracking sustainability

Commercial Property investors start tracking sustainability

U.S. Green Building Council LEED Certifications, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Energy Star Certifications have been in development for nearly twenty years.

Forward-looking real estate investment trusts (REITs) are beginning to promote that their portfolios include LEED or Energy Star certified commercial and industrial properties (for example, without endorsement, Wells REIT II’s LEED Portfolio Grows to 25 and Health Care REIT’s Green Arrow Program).

The major institutional investors in commercial real property are beginning to take notice of sustainability. National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries, best known for its benchmark Property Index Returns, is now collecting Energy Star and LEED information for properties owned by its investor/members.

Bruce Cahan

Bruce Cahan is CEO and co-founder of Urban Logic, a nonprofit that harnesses finance and technology to change how systems think, act and feel. He is an Ashoka Fellow, a Consulting Professor at Stanford University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and a CodeX Fellow at Stanford's Center for Legal Informatics. Bruce was trained as an international finance lawyer at Weil Gotshal & Manges in NYC (10 years) and as merchant banker at Asian Oceanic in Hong Kong (2 years). Bruce graduated The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (B.S. Economics 1976) and Temple Law School (J.D. 1979), and is licensed as a lawyer in California (2006), New York (1980) and Pennsylvania (1980).

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TEDxNewWallStreet – Re-imagining Banking built in and for the Information Age
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TEDxNewWallStreet – Re-imagining Banking built in and for the Information Age

2008 – 2012 had seen a stubborn recession, shattering personal wealth and global confidence in the largest banks.  The Occupy Wall Street Protests in New York and London pressed for reforms to the banking system, by legislative, regulatory and judicial means.

By March 2012,  Silicon Valley had been pursuing its agenda of revolutionizing the banking system through innovations for nearly a decade.  Square did for in store local purchasing what PayPal did for online shopping, moving billions in credit card payments out of the hands of bankers and into the hands of “payments processors.”  Kiva created a disruptive microfinance finance, uncontrolled by and side-steppng at scale the administrative overhead of large sprawling nonprofit organizations.  Kickstarter anticipated the JOBS Act‘s embrace of crowdfunding small businesses, using elegant design storytelling to pre-sell products that have yet to be built.

Silicon Valley is well known for changing paradigms that concentrated power in entertainment, telecommunications and automotive industries.

Thus, on March 11, 2012, Urban Logic decided to convene TEDxNewWallStreet as a day-long exploration of what it might look like for Silicon Valley to be the New Wall Street, and ask how it might be fairer, safer, cheaper and see and show its impacts with greater transparency.

Moving opaque, dysfunctional, predatory banking into the digital age isn’t progress.

Fixing banking to become highly-transparent and impacts-aaware, that’s progress.

Our TEDxNewWallStreet speakers were amazing, and let the audience at the Computer History Museum, and on YouTube understand how bankers and bank technologists in Silicon Valley are changing the paradigm, again:

 

Bruce Cahan

Bruce Cahan is CEO and co-founder of Urban Logic, a nonprofit that harnesses finance and technology to change how systems think, act and feel. He is an Ashoka Fellow, a Consulting Professor at Stanford University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and a CodeX Fellow at Stanford's Center for Legal Informatics. Bruce was trained as an international finance lawyer at Weil Gotshal & Manges in NYC (10 years) and as merchant banker at Asian Oceanic in Hong Kong (2 years). Bruce graduated The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (B.S. Economics 1976) and Temple Law School (J.D. 1979), and is licensed as a lawyer in California (2006), New York (1980) and Pennsylvania (1980).

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Banking for the Uninitiated
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Banking for the Uninitiated

Over the past few years, Urban Logic has looked at how banks reflect society’s priorities, and cause multiple impacts in doing so.

In order to understand “banking,” numerous books, professional journals and a deluge of popular works after the 2008 Credit Crisis have come forward to demystify the “black box of banking”, so that it can be simply understood.

Two of our favorite books that explain banking as it is currently practiced today are:

Other good reads on banking and money tell tales of bankers and banker hubris, and those are fun literature too!

Bruce Cahan

Bruce Cahan is CEO and co-founder of Urban Logic, a nonprofit that harnesses finance and technology to change how systems think, act and feel. He is an Ashoka Fellow, a Consulting Professor at Stanford University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and a CodeX Fellow at Stanford's Center for Legal Informatics. Bruce was trained as an international finance lawyer at Weil Gotshal & Manges in NYC (10 years) and as merchant banker at Asian Oceanic in Hong Kong (2 years). Bruce graduated The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (B.S. Economics 1976) and Temple Law School (J.D. 1979), and is licensed as a lawyer in California (2006), New York (1980) and Pennsylvania (1980).

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Jerusalem, Middle East Peace & Money

Jerusalem, Middle East Peace & Money

October 26, 2010 at the Koret-Milken Institute in Jerusalem offered Urban Logic the opportunity to present research on using using interfaith ethics to tag money, and in that way bring greater understanding and tolerance to the various religious groups in and surrounding Israel.

The Koret-Milken Fellows are impressive, and go on to occupy major leadership positions in government and industry in Israel.  The Institute, through Glenn Yago‘s leadership, conducts ground-breaking research on infrastructure, capital finance, legislation and other challenges facing the Israeli Government, business sector and society.koret milken institute

Bruce Cahan

Bruce Cahan is CEO and co-founder of Urban Logic, a nonprofit that harnesses finance and technology to change how systems think, act and feel. He is an Ashoka Fellow, a Consulting Professor at Stanford University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and a CodeX Fellow at Stanford's Center for Legal Informatics. Bruce was trained as an international finance lawyer at Weil Gotshal & Manges in NYC (10 years) and as merchant banker at Asian Oceanic in Hong Kong (2 years). Bruce graduated The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (B.S. Economics 1976) and Temple Law School (J.D. 1979), and is licensed as a lawyer in California (2006), New York (1980) and Pennsylvania (1980).

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