Global cities of the future

by Miranda Solly

First of all, I apologise to any reader who saw the ‘of the future’ in the title and thought I was going to paint a picture of space port cities, or multi-global cities full of aliens. I’d actually like to suggest why global cities become global, and what that says about how future one will grow.

The global cities we were given as examples all seem different on the surface. There are places like London or Tokyo, which are important because they form the biggest financial hubs in the world. Then there is Johannesburg, whose economy stemmed from South Africa’s mining wealth and rose to prominence in the financial sector too. Yet another type of global city is Bangalore, which has risen in status fairly recently due to its ties to global communications and the internet. They all function in similar ways, attracting highly skilled workers from around the world while also acting as a beacon to the poor from the home country and abroad. What important similarity causes people to act in this way? Money. As the proverb goes, “Money makes the world go round”. Money is necessary for most of our everyday needs and in a bigger way for large-scale developments. So money, at the moment at least, does equal power.

What interests me is that Bangalore based its wealth on information technologies, unlike the other cities, whose wealth stemmed more or less recently from industry. This is almost certainly because the digital revolution has changed humans lives as dramatically as the industrial revolution did. The places where such a huge change is navigated effectively will undoubtedly gain money because of that. As we are still discovering what digital technology can do, I am sure that there will be many more global cities like Bangalore. 

So I suggest that global cities are created when their inhabitants successfully manipulate the latest technological advancements (heavy industry, digital technology) to gain power (money). Having attained this power, people are able to forge international ties that strengthen their standing as a global city. This presents two questions: one, can existing global cities keep up with those built on new technologies; and two, what might that next advancement be?

In answer to the first question, I wonder if pre-existing power allows global cities to catch up with new technologies more quickly than other places. After all, New York and Tokyo have not suddenly become obsolete. Possibly new power structures are built with the existing ones as their basis. On the other hand, perhaps negative effects from such a revolution take more time to appear than we have been able to observe. There might be opportunities for those working in up-and-coming global cities related to new technologies that are not offered in more established communities. In London, there is talk of trying to be ‘the next Silicon Valley’, but so far no large internet companies have established themselves there (London cannot compete with the space and human resources that other global cities have). 

In answer to the second question, I think my reader’s guess is as good as mine. But hey, if Virgin Galactic really is the catalyst for a new space age, maybe the next breed of global cities will be on the moon.


Bright Side of Global Cities

by Misato Okumura

Today, more and more global cities are created in developing countries. The big firms in developed countries come to there to open their new business with cheaper costs and the governments there improve infrastructure and build nice facilities to welcome them. The reconstruction of developing countries kicks out local people who used to live there before the firms coming and also it makes the difference between rich people and poor bigger. The government in developing countries ignores their citizens to get business opportunity to develop their countries. But does it have only bad effects to their citizens? Their inviting the big firms to their countries has some advantages for their citizens too. I’ll show the 3 biggest points to support my opinion.

First, staying in developing countries will bring the workers in developed countries new discoveries. We, developed countries know a lot of things about other developed countries because we have had trading connection for a long time. But maybe it will be first time for the workers to stay in the countries for that long and they will find what attractive culture is there and introduce it to the world. This is good for the developing countries because the world may start looking at their country and if so, the government needs to start working on the structure of the society such as rich-poor balance. Moreover having the big firms brings a lot of profitability to their country and they can use it for their social security system. The difference between rich and poor is one of the biggest issues in developing countries. It will be better if they invite the big firms.

Second, global cities produce employment. This is not only because construction of global cities and improving infrastructure will produce a lot of employment but also the workers in developing countries need a connection with local people to run their business there. They need to work with an interpreter and sometimes a cultural instructor so they will get global connections from each others. This will be good opportunity for both of them to learn other culture in this globalizing world. And if they got an opportunity of cultural exchange at local level, it will work great for understanding their each culture and ethnicity.

Third, if the government makes a rule in which the firms need to share their technology and skills with the workers in the host countries, it will help their country develop. This is what China actually does in their special economy district. I think this can avoid “drain brain” and helps produce skilled local workers.

In conclusion, I think these 3 points are good side of global cities.