Region Forward Blog

(Nuclear) energy independence small-scale urban innovation & lucky cities

Mar 30, 2012


UK energy independence: In the US when we talk about energy independence we typically are referring to reducing our dependence on foreign oil. The logic behind this is that when our energy sources are under the control of other countries (some of which we don’t have the best relations with) we’re much more vulnerable to energy shortages and/or price hikes.

In the UK right now they’re also worrying about energy independence but the current focus for the Brits is on nuclear power. China and France are both in the running to build and operate new nuclear reactors in the UK and the prospect of foreign control over energy production is raising concerns among some observers.

Returning to innovation: On last week’s Global Fridays we discussed the innovative capital of metro areas around the world. Today This Big City has a piece highlighting the innovation prowess of Tallinn the capital of Estonia. The city roughly equivalent in population to Virginia Beach has adopted very progressive policies such as free city-wide WiFi free public transportation and creating a business and political environment that encourages small technological firms to open shop in the city. This last point sounds very similar to the recommendation recently given to the DC area for how to make its economy competitive in the future.

Some cities have all the luck: Richard Florida over at The Atlantic Cities analyzes the rise (and sometimes fall) of the world’s largest cities. Florida examines why some of these cities have proven more durable over time and retained their place among the world’s largest while others have fallen down the rankings. (Aaron Renn also discusses this issue of urban volatility at New Geography noting that Washington DC is increasingly becoming considered as America’s “Second City” at the expense of LA Chicago and Boston).

One of the sources Florida points to in his piece is a recent report by The Economist Intelligence Unit (the research arm of The Economist magazine) that ranks the world’s largest cities by their competitiveness. Washington fared well coming in at #8. The top spots went to New York London Singapore Paris and Hong Kong.

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