Technological disruption has accelerated and magnified. Just as the car transformed cities in the 1930s and the smartphone spawned the digital economy, a convergence of advances in AI, energy, food production and material science is poised to radically alter societies and economies.
These transformations will affect everything from how we work, where we work and even if we need to work. They will change how we get about, how we interact with one another and how we interact with technology. These transformations might change what we eat, where our food is produced and how it is grown. It is an opportunity to rethink, reset and restore.
Few cities have grasped or prepared for the shifts. Penang, a mid-sized city in northern Malaysia is using the pandemic downtime to scale up its efforts to prepare for the future. It has a multitude of natural, built, cultural and economic advantages that position it well to not only recover but thrive in a world defined by disruptive technologies, new social norms and radically different work practices.
Key to this future is a renewal of Penang’s urban core to bring life back into its historical and natural water-orientated assets and enable people and capital to invest in a new city form. One where culture, nature, businesses and technology are organised symbiotically.
As part of its strategy to catalyse recovery and uplift the economy, the Penang State Government is asking innovators to help us rethink the future and apply this to reimagine the waterfronts of the island and mainland in a manner that builds social, economic and environmental resilience.