Dawn of the Smart City: The next generation will see a historic migration to urban areas around the world. So who’s going to benefit?

Leslie Norton:

Cities are experiencing one of the biggest booms since the Industrial Revolution got under way.

In 2008, the number of urban dwellers for the first time in history eclipsed the number living far from the madding crowd. The United Nations projects that by mid-century, cities will be home to 70% of the world’s 9.2 billion inhabitants, a figure that tops today’s population by 30%.

The trend is mostly the result of the welcome prosperity of the emerging markets and should bode well for the world economy. Cities are the engines of innovation, as economist Edward L. Glaeser asserts in his recent book, Triumph of the City. Urban growth raises output per capita. In the United States, for example, Glaeser reports that workers in big metropolitan areas earn 30% more than workers laboring elsewhere,reflecting this higher productivity.