Fast Company: How America’s dying rust belt town can transform into “smart cities” of the future

Fast Company: How America’s dying rust belt town can transform into “smart cities” of the future

What is it that allows some cities to escape the “boom and bust” town narrative to become livable, workable, and sustainable? And can these models be replicated in other small, struggling towns?

How America’s dying rust belt town can transform into “smart cities” of the future

In these challenging times, some cities were successful at reinventing themselves and went on to forge new economies and transform their once-sprawling, empty lands into something new, something remarkable. Year after year, Pittsburgh appears on best cities for jobs lists, thanks to its burgeoning tech industry after a desperate decline following the fall of American steel. Then there are other cities, like Detroit, that have a tougher time recovering after their major industry dried up.

What is it that allows some cities to escape the “boom and bust” town narrative to become livable, workable, and sustainable? And can these models be replicated in other small, struggling towns?

AN ECOSYSTEM FOR INNOVATION

Christina Cassotis, the Pittsburgh International Airport’s first female CEO, hopes that the city’s economic innovation can be felt from the moment visitors land. The airport has partnered with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) to run an “innovations lab” that will test how automation and robotics can help the airport run “more efficiently, raise revenue, operate better, and improve the passenger experience,” Cassotis says.

“If we do it right, we will impact the industry from here,” she adds. “From here, there will be learning, there will be products, there will be processes that comes out of this [new] terminal and the way we work that will make the (airport) industry better.”

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