How to Build a Smart City

Our latest Freakonomics Radio episode is called “How to Build a Smart City.”
We are in the midst of a historic (and wholly unpredicted) rise in urbanization. But it’s hard to retrofit old cities for the 21st century. Enter Dan Doctoroff. The man who helped modernize New York City — and tried to bring the Olympics there — is now C.E.O. of a Google-funded startup that is building, from scratch, the city of the future…

DUBNER: It’s really interesting to see places that have had a good turnaround. I think of Pittsburgh, which was a hardcore industrial manufacturing, natural-resources city. And it took a while, but now they are the capital of autonomous-vehicle research. They’ve built up a lot of industries that were totally unrelated to what they’d been known for.

DOCTOROFF: I think we’re seeing it more and more as people recognize that they, again, have to build off their competitive strengths. So what Pittsburgh’s competitive strength?

DUBNER: Carnegie Mellon’s pretty good.

DOCTOROFF: Carnegie Mellon was the biggest component of it. And I think the city and the university and the not-for-profit sector kind of worked together to develop a strategy.