Urbanization is a challenge as well as an opportunity to cities around the world today. As the trend of smart cities becomes more mainstream, city councils and local governments should also be aware of balancing the pace and adoption of urbanization. This is a challenge especially in developing and densely populated cities.
While governments globally are setting up specific focus groups and departments to tackle this issue, private consultants and research institutes are also offering consulting services. Public-private partnerships and collaboration has often led to beneficial societal outcomes, and this case should be no different. It ensures that more smart minds are working together with unbiased interests to solve a common need.
One such research institute in Singapore that provides consulting on urbanization is Zeroth Labs. They aren’t limited to Singapore. They provides services across Asia-Pacific, which has a high proportion of densely populating and rapidly growing cities such as Jakarta, Kuala Lampur, Ho Chi Minh, Manila, Mumbai and Bangkok.
Zeroth labs was founded by Singaporean Bernise Ang. She is something of a celebrity by now, having been selected as a Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum (WEF). She additionally serves as an adjunct faculty at SMU. Zeroth Labs provides a unique take on public policy, by looking at behavioral sciences and social sciences and drafting methods based on those. They work together with startups to borrow agile and lean methods of tackling issues.
Bernise, not satisfied with her works, started off on another venture, this time a design consultancy to produce social impact and innovation. The focus revolves around cities and urbanization as well. Bernise follows a similar take on addressing public issues by using anthropological studies to understand human nature and behavior in cities.
In an earlier post, we talked about NGOs and social impact startups that offer consultancy when it comes to different aspects related to urbanization. We mentioned Billionbricks and Thought collective, two design and content consultancies that help mobilize communities and solve issues faced by developing cities. You can read more about these startups here: www.weare.sg/kuik-shiao-yin/
Ultimately, it comes down to engagement. A collective effort is required to solve problems faced by cities. Public institutions cannot do it alone. In Singapore, we have startups, consultancies, government agencies and well-regarded educational and research institutions such as the LKY school of public policy in NUS. These institutions have a lot of offer.