Early in 2015, the Rockefeller Foundation announced that it is planning to add a few smaller areas of focus to its work in conjunction with its $100 million City Resilience Framework. Among those new "resolutions" is changing the ways that cities utilize the loads of data they collect. The purpose here is to efficiently integrate the data collected into city planning efforts. For example, a city collects data about crime rates in a specific part of town. This allows it to develop effective policing patterns, possibly by increasing policing in higher crime areas while decreasing it in lower crime areas.
The information collected by cities can sometimes be sensitive in nature, and information transmitted electronically is often subject to security threats. To tackle that concern, 100 Resilient Cities is partnering up with Microsoft and its CityNext Initiative, which aims to help cities become more modern, safer, healthier and increasingly educated. Cybersecurity is a core focus on the partnership.
Beginning later this year, Microsoft will begin working with a few 100 Resilient Cities members providing cybersecurity experts that will lead workshops to help prioritize security threats and needs, increase cybersecurity education, and help develop best practices in cybersecurity strategies.
Rockefeller announced its 100 Resilient Cities challenge when the Foundation celebrated its 100th year in 2013. The purpose of the challenge is to help cities around the world better prepare for acute shocks such as natural disasters and terrorist attacks, as well as chronic stresses like high unemployment, violence, and water shortages. The foundation began its inaugural year with 32 cities, and recently announced the addition of 35 cities into the program.
The Rockefeller Foundation didn’t develop its 100 Resilient Cities challenge as a kitschy way to celebrate its 100th year of existence. If you know anything about the foundation, it rarely jumps into anything without conducting a good amount of research and what it found was that by 2050, an estimated 75 percent of the global population will live in cities (these estimates vary, of course, and the UN puts the number at around 66 percent). As of 2014, just over 50 percent of the population live in cities. Long story short—more people means increased strain on urban infrastructure, economies, and ecology. Not to mention that many neighboring cities are interconnected, meaning that a breakdown in one city can lead to a sequential breakdown in another.
Of course, resilience in the face of climate change has been a key theme of Rockefeller's work for a number of years. It's been interesting to watch how the foundation has expanded on this concept to the point that it's become part of Rockefeller's brand.
Rockefeller will announce its final member cities at the end of 2015, which means that it looks as though the cities challenge will come to an end in 2017 or so. That’s a long way off from 2050, and so far, the foundation has not given any clue as to what happens after the challenge concludes. However, in true Rockefeller fashion, it will likely want to thoroughly assess the impact of the challenge before it makes any promises of continuing the program.