The innovation group TED has given its coveted annual prize for the first time to an idea -- the city of the future.
The $100,000 prize money, normally awarded to an individual, will be divided into 10 grants allocated for the top ideas submitted at thecity2.org, a platform where organizers hope to develop an earth-friendly "City 2.0."
"Many of us in the TED community don't want this thought of as talk," TED curator Chris Anderson told the conference late Wednesday.
"We try to turn one of these ideas into a spectacular piece of action... An idea on which, arguably, a sustainable future depends."
More than half the world's population resides in cities, where living close together in smaller spaces means reducing the energy used for driving and homes while more easily making personal connections, according to economist Edward Glaeser, a TED member who collaborated on the idea.
"Cities are no enemies of the environment, they are friends of the environment," Glaeser reasoned.
Rio de Janeiro mayor Eduardo Paes took part in the TED Prize session, sharing his set of "commandments" for a city of the future.
Such a city must be environmentally-friendly, have high-capacity transportation, integrate people from all demographics, and use innovative technology.
IBM has worked with Rio de Janeiro to use technology to better handle the challenges of running the city, whether managing traffic flow, coordinating public works crews or anticipating disruptive storms.
"A city of the future is a city that cares about its citizens," Paes said. "At the end of the day, when you talk about the city, you talk about a gathering of people."
The prize wish that emerged was to give people living in cities the power to change them for the better, according to Anderson.
To that end, TED launched the website thecity2.org as a platform where citizens can form local groups, share ideas, and connect with companies large or small that can provide resources for plans that emerge.
"I think we are about to see urbanization happen at an unprecedented rate," said Autodesk chief executive Carl Bass, who offer to supply free software tools for engineering or designing cities of the future.
By the end of the session offers from TED members included eco-friendly home designs, connections to venture capitalists, and even free space in a building Keen Footwear bought to house its headquarters in Portland, Oregon.
"The idea of the platform is to involve people on the ground in everything," Anderson said. "We steered away from utopian ideas gone wrong."
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