Wednesday 28 September 2016

Can Dublin be a Future City?

Paul McNeive

Published 02/04/2015 | 02:30

The message for Dublin is that the best cities of the future are seen as innovative, safe, young, fun and clean
The message for Dublin is that the best cities of the future are seen as innovative, safe, young, fun and clean

"The biggest change affecting cities is that this generation will look for where they want to live first, and then look for work."

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This was one of the fascinating insights provided by Damian Loscher of IPSOS MRBI in a fascinating presentation on "Cities of the Future" at the Irish Independent Commercial Real Estate Summit.

Echoing IDA Ireland's view that we are engaged in a "global war on talent" against other locations around the world, Mr Loscher told us that "cities revolve around talent." But where do this "knowledge generation" want to live, and what are the lessons for Dublin?

In 2013 IPSOS MRBI conducted the largest global study on the best cities to do business in (New York, Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong), to live in (Zurich, Sydney, London), and to visit (Paris, New York, Rome).

This spring, now including Dublin as an option, they surveyed 200 25 to 44 year olds in Ireland and the top ranked cities to work in were New York, Dubai and Dublin.

The best ranked cities to live in were New York, Sydney and Dublin and the best ranked cities to visit were New York, Paris and Rio de Janeiro.

Interestingly "the knowledge generation" do not see the cities of the future as "futuristic," for example like Dubai or Hong Kong. They do not necessarily want to live in theses cities of the future, however.

As the march towards urbanisation continues (Dublin has more than doubled in population in 70 years) the message for Dublin is that the best cities of the future are seen as innovative, safe, young, fun and clean, with great parks and Vancouver, Sydney and San Francisco are cited as the best examples of these.

In Damien Loscher's view, Dublin needs to develop an iconic brand for innovation with a goal of becoming one of the top 20 cities in the world.

The research shows that a city's brand is heavily influenced by iconic architecture.

For example New York is perceived as the city with the most parks, which it isn't, but that ranking is attributed almost entirely to the iconic status of Central Park.

Mr Loscher suggests that a top ranking city brand needs at least seven iconic images.

That prompted me to think that Dublin is probably top heavy in historic images and what an opportunity there is for Ireland Inc (through Nama perhaps) to develop two "green" architecturally stunning tall buildings at the mouth of the Liffey.

A development like that would go an awful long way to solving the office and apartment shortage and creating a new innovative city icon.

Damien Loscher concluded by saying that there are economies of scale in sharing and in tomorrow's cities we will share even more with strangers.

Sharing of energy is the big issue for the future as we share less heating in apartment blocks and use less energy in walking to work. His vision for Dublin is to be "the most collaborative city in the world."

On March 21 my car was clamped by Dublin City Council for being in a loading bay for 25 minutes-the first time I have been clamped in 32 years since losing my legs.

Perhaps Ironically I was in Newstalk FM doing an interview on how urban centres can compete with the "out of town centres" and parking and the "friendliness" of a city were top of my agenda.

I had waited 30 minutes for a space and eventually took the illegal but pragmatic option to use the loading bay as there were plenty of other empty loading bays. My car has a disabled drivers badge.

The €80 clamp release fee cannot be paid in cash and I had no credit cards.

The shops where you can pay the fee were out of walking range.

I asked to be released as my father was in the last stages of a battle with cancer at St Vincent's Hospital but was offered the option of leaving my car clamped for 24 hours and getting someone to collect me.

Eventually I found someone to pay for me over the phone and was released.

A city needs revenue from car parking but a draconian enforcement policy of parking regulations plays into the hands of the suburban centres which are competing against the likes of Dublin city centre for customers and business.

Surely a more commonsense approach could be taken before clamping disabled drivers.

Surely a fine would suffice? A city also needs a soul as it is made up of humans living together and not all people always fit neatly into the same boxes.

My father died that night. He would have described the clamping saga as "a bit Irish."

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