Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center. Maqueta de la Ciudad de Shanghái.
When we visit a city we no longer go to hotels, we rent houses per days. In our neighborhood, we don´t wait at the bus stop no more, we only go there at the exact moment we see the bus is arriving. In our leisure time, we don´t buy tickets at museums or concerts anymore. We buy them from home some days before. We also don´t go to the cinema so much anymore, but we watch series and movies online directly from our living room. When we move around the city, we no longer need to look for our car, but for the one we are sharing with a stranger. Sometimes, fruits and vegetables are no longer bought in supermarket. We grow them ourselves on rooftops and gardens. Our houses don´t just consume electricity, they can even produce it. How are all these technological and cultural changes affecting our cities? And above all, what new job opportunities and business areas have been emerging around these new metropolis?
Without any doubt, a new economic sector is awakening, for both entrepreneurs and companies. A new strategic and transversal area organized around the upcoming and profound transformation of cities. It is enough to note only two data from European Commission: 85% of GDP is generated in cities and metropolitan areas, a determining factor in four of every five Europeans belonging to the Homus Urbanus specie, an evolutionary leap rightly invented by American economist Jeremy Rifkin. The economic potential of this transformation demands a new model of innovative and interdisciplinary professional, oriented to employment in international areas. These are the main business areas and strategic sectors for investment and employment in the field of urban management:
1.Governance. New governance models demand a global and interdisciplinary formation, a commitment to the city as a unit of increasing geopolitical and diplomatic weight in the international area. Some institutions related to Urban Management are the European Commission, in many of its departments and Executive Agencies such as Climate Action, Energy, Environment, European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negociations, Mobility and Transport o Regional and Urban Policy; also UN Habitat as well as state and regional governments or city councils. The work related to governance was never as complex and stimulating as it is today.
2. Environment. The complexity and uncertainty posed by climate change is requiring various sectors and professions to work collaboratively to strengthen the environment resilience, to apply measures to adapt to climate change and mitigate its effects, and to reduce natural disastres In addition, In view of the growing urbanization, as indicated by the New Urban Agenda (approved in 2016 by the UN at the Habitat III Conference held in Quito, Ecuador) a re-naturalization of cities is also required. The evaluation and correction of environmental impacts, as well as the reduction of resource consumption, to guarantee the quality of life in the built environments, are also issues to be tackled. All these are challenges that need to be addressed by new professionals: Companies such as Acciona, BR, Indra, Labola or TRACSA, among others, and NGOs such as WWF, work in this sector applying integrated planning, in order to reconcile a competitive economy with the sustainability of the environment.
3. Real State. One of the strategic sectors in the economy of a country is undoubtedly the real estate sector, which is on the rise in the European Union according to a recent PWC report. In addition to the necessary construction of a new plant, urban regeneration goes through the management of purchase-sale operations and the rental of assets, the recovery of abandoned spaces, the inmologistics or the enhancement of pre-existing infrastructures. This is the case of Madrid Nuevo Norte operation, in the vicinity of Chamartín Train station in Madrid, promoted by DCN company, which is collaborating with Bachelor´s Degree in Urban Management of the Camilo José Cela University. In this video, the company highlights the need for a Urban Management professional from an interdisciplinary point of view. Other companies such as CBRe operate in innovative areas as Capital Market, identifying new investment opportunities, or Real State´s digital transformation..
* investors’ perspectives on the evolution of the European real estate sector in 2018 / Business confidence / Business profitability / Employee count / Increases/ remains/ decreases
4. Energy The energy transition of the cities establishes an important opportunity area for the economic sector linked to renewable technologies and zero emissions. The transformation of neighborhoods and districts into zones of zero emissions is presented as an opportunity for integrated management, activating legal, regulatory, social, environmental, economic or technological issues at the same time. Large companies such as Acciona, Viesgo or EDP Renovables, as well as other small-scale innovators such as Kishoa or Powen, and even the so-called energy cooperatives such as SOM or GoiEner, are operating in this energetic transformation of cities, offering interesting job opportunities in the field of management, mediation, financing or maintenance and facility management.
5. Technology. Smart City has emerged as one of the new archetypes born around the digital transformation of the city. Technology is at the service of a more efficient management of public services, but also at the service of citizens who start to operate with companies and online services through their mobile phones as a part of culture and collaborative economy. In this sense, companies and technological sectors associated with this new digital economy are numerous and they are growing in an important way: telecommunications (Vodafone, Telefónica or Huawei have a Smart Cities department); sensors and system architecture (Indra or Everis), Big Data (Alto Analytics) or Geographic Information Systems (DotGIS). Actually, companies like Idealista are working as big data companies more than as traditional Real Estate agencies: technology transforms the way we understood business previously, constituting the greatest change vector and economic potential nowadays.
*Image: Global smart cities market size and forecast, 2011-2019 (USD billion)
6. Movilidad. The progressive increase in passengers and merchandise traffic requires an advanced, sustainable and transversal vision of transports and logistics. In New Urban Agenda mentioned before, it was argued the importance and the need to improve the quality and efficiency of transport systems to mitigate the challenges of rapid urbanization, equitable access, safety and protection, efficiency, pollution and the ability to respond to climate problems, betting on zero emissions mobility and public transport. Most important companies in the electric mobility sector (Zity, driven by Ferrovial and Renault, Tesla, Bluemove or Car2go), hybrid mobility (Toyota), intelligent mobility (Acciona or Telefónica) and strategic technology allies (Google, Indra or Everis) among others, are already operating within the framework of this transformation.
7. Consulting. The big consultancies have found in urban management professionals, a preferred ally for the strategic planning of cities and the implementation of Smart City solutions, both business areas around the urban infrastructures in which companies such as Deloitte operate; others like Ernst & Young influence the opportunity of the numerous actual urban developments in Madrid to generate wealth from the explotation of disused areas and their potential development for new uses. These consultancies have Research and Development areas to promote their digital transformation. In fact, among their business analysts, it´s becoming really important to understand cities as the ecosystem in which much of their operations with public administrations and other important agents are developed, obtaining a holistic vision that allows to advise clients and investors in the increasingly competitive and specialized environment of smart cities.
8. Cooperación In a global world, International Cooperation (CI) and International Cooperation for Development (CID) have been consolidated as indispensable sectors, encouraged both by humanitarian and ethical reasons, and by political and economic interests. Within this area, the decentralized CI between cities establishes relations through international networks, which is favoring local governments to reach great decision power: cities are now acting in scenarios which were traditionally reserved for states. Joan Clos, as mayor of Barcelona, participated in the United Nations Assembly in June 2001 on behalf of the “local governments of the world” and it was in 2004 when the World Organization of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) was formalized. This circumstance is demanding new forms of management that offer exciting opportunities for professional practice and personal commitment to the World. Among other specific employment opportunities in the area of cooperation and improvement of developing cities we can find: humanitarian crisis management (ACH) and resources, including food, (FAO); attention to vulnerable population groups such as women, elderly and children (UNICEF); or the fight against poverty and in favor of promoting full development as a fundamental right (AECID).
With the aim of training professionals to respond to this new strategic profile, Camilo José Cela University (UCJC) has created its Bachelor´s Degree in Urban Management as one of the most innovative degrees to be studied in Spain nowadays. This degree is unique in our country, although it has great tradition in other countries like Holland, Germany, Italy, England and the United States, among others. It makes a lot of sense since design and urban management teaching can´t be undertaken in a single postgraduate course in the XXI Century. Some examples are: City Design & Development (MIT, USA); Urban & Regional Planning (TU Berlin); Urban Planning: Cities, Environment & Landscape (Politecnico di Milano).
Bachelor´s Degree in Urban Management is also proposed as an official degree in the Spanish education system and international Bachelor, having 50% of its curriculum in English; project learning methodology and working with companies in real cases from the first day, facilitates the Degree´s Final Project to be a Start-up constitution or the seed of a new company, operating in the sectors of greater potential economic growth in short and medium term market.
Definitively, not only the background of this degree is appropriate in terms of professional opportunities, also its form and teaching methodology point in this same direction right from the beginning. Welcome to the era of smart cities. Welcome to new Urban Management.