"Speaking through maps and numbers are more robust
ways for the "social Web" to argue environmental
and other social justice causes."
- Bruce Cahan
HISTORY OF URBAN LOGIC
The Early Years (1990s) – Thinking Spatially
Urban Logic’s started as a quest to prevent extreme events.
Each extreme event led us to create options for prevention, mutual aid response and resiliency.
- Starting in 1991, we responded to an August 1989 Con Edison steam pipe explosion. We designed a financial structure for New York City to acquire and maintain an integrated digital map from bedrock to the top of the World Trade Towers. We researched and found capital funding to pay for the “digital map utility,” as basic infrastructure for running the modern city.
- Throughout the 1990s, our experiences from NYC scaled up nationally to help federal agencies (OMB, FGDC, OMB and USGS) align their investments in spatial readiness, so as to create a common view of regional needs, capacities and priorities.
- In 1999, Bruce Cahan (Urban Logic’s founder and CEO) testified at the first Congressional Hearing on community use, needs and funding gaps in acquiring geospatial technologies.
- In 2000, we convinced the federal Office of Management and Budget to create a 49 state I-Team structure for integrated strategic planning and opportunistic funding for regions to create interoperable spatial readiness and public accountability.
The Impact of September 11th 2001 World Trade Center Attacks
- On September 11th Bruce Cahan was in his Midtown NYC office speaking with Doug Yoder (Environmental Coordinator for Miami-Dade County) when the terrorists attacked the World Trade Center. In the following months, Bruce assisted at the NYC Mayor’s Command Center, providing logistical support to find, use and disseminate fast changing spatial data and maps needed to secure, recover and rebuild Lower Manhattan.
- 9/11 significantly changed Urban Logic’s thinking about what cities need to be safer, equitable, sustainable and resilient. While cities need spatial readiness, markets need better ways to rate and reward sustainable and resilient urban environments. Terrorists exploited the post-war architecture of buildings sized out of all proportion to sustainable function in the urban built environment. The rate of re-building in urban settings lacked market drivers for sustainability and resiliency. Urban Logic set out to find more options.
Urban Logic’s Priorities Today – Market-Driven Change
Urban Logic is now pursuing a portfolio of projects aimed at enhancing urban sustainability and resiliency:
- Thinking Spatially to Act Locally – Our basis for assembling data about impacts on cities relies on open source geospatial Web services and our alliances across industry, government and NGOs building spatial data and services.
- Sustainable Resiliency® - Rather than a hodgepodge of scary statistics about cities, sustainable resiliency® normalize the performance benchmarks that experts and advocates generate to compile a layer cake of urban benchmarks and proactive solutions.
- Means Meter® - Consumers have enormous untapped power to move corporate regional priorities, yet lack the information tools and financial incentive structures to use their power effectively. The Means Meter® is a Web service for mobile phone and desktop systems that pushes each shopper’s ethical values and choices out into the marketplace and earns them cash-back rewards for doing good as they individually define and see the good.
- Ethical Banking – Too few banks grow regional sustainable resiliency®, or partner with the emerging socially-purposeful entrepreneur and their consumer to grow it. Urban Logic is researching and incubating a project that would launch a new ethical bank, first in the San Francisco Bay Area, then scaling nationally and globally to serve the emerging social capital ecosphere, the SC-Eco.
- The Social Capital Ecosphere (the SC-Eco) – Throughout the economy are a growing number of initiatives to grow transparency, so that consumers and businesses can better see the impacts their activities have on sustainability. We see a grouping of “neighborhoods” for ratings services, finance, shopping and other services. By taking a SC-Eco meta-model view, collaborations will more readily emerge across former competitors, all trying to “save the world.”
- Procurement Visualization & Transparency – Collectively, governments account for 40% of US Gross Domestic Product, and spend billions on goods and services. American corporations spend trillions more. Urban Logic has prototyped a way to detect patterns in federal government procurements, with the goal of chipping off pieces that can be better fulfilled by “buying locally” from socially-purposeful enterprises and nonprofits. Leveraging procurement patterns can add to the SC-Eco, grow sustainable resiliency® and generate a flow of projects ethical banks can finance. Visualizing and breaking the ties that bind procurement patterns to campaign finance enhances the democratic process and changes the insider cultures of Washington, state capitols and local politics.