Special Report:

Enduring visions

Urban dwellers are energetic, and the most innovative go further than simply finding ways to ease their lives, writes Michael Skapinker

This, the third FT Urban Ingenuity magazine, marks the end of a year-long process leading up to the announcement of the winners of the 2012 FT/Citi Ingenuity Awards.

Entries for the awards came from all over the world, and from city authorities, community groups, charities and companies. Some entries were high tech, for example looking at how to use data from people’s mobile devices to ease traffic congestion. Others were simpler, but potentially transformative, such as one asking children to document an urban Indian hazard.

Our distinguished panel was charged with establishing the most ingenious solutions to urban problems in the categories of education, energy, healthcare and infrastructure, as well as deciding on an overall winner. But what were the criteria?

As the judges’ discussion went on, it became clear that they were looking for originality. Some entries were highly impressive, but the same solution had already been effected elsewhere. The judges wanted to be sure that the winning projects had had an impact, or were most likely to do so. They wanted the winners to inspire others. They wanted them to engage with a wider community, attracting sufficient public support to be sustainable. This was the most important criterion: the winning projects needed to be enduring. All of the category winners, and the overall winner, promise to be exactly that.

These awards have proved something most of us already suspected. Cities are dense networks of systems and people. Disrupting those has immediate effects; witness the upheaval superstorm Sandy caused in New York. But those same densely packed people immediately set about re-establishing the city, just as they did after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Urban dwellers are energetic, and the most innovative go further than simply finding ways to ease their lives. They come up with ideas, technologies and systems that benefit us all. It is their endeavours that we celebrate with these awards.


FT/Citi Ingenuity Awards: Urban Ideas in Action


Winner: Community Cooker Foundation, Kenya

Runner-up: Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Japan


Winner: GSK New Citizen Health Care Project, China

Runner-up: Child Eye Care Charitable Trust, India


Winner: College Possible, US

Runner-up: The judges preferred not to choose a runner-up


Winner: JCDecaux – Vélib’ (Lifetime Achievement), France

Runner-up:The judges preferred not to choose a runner-up

Overall winner: Community Cooker Foundation

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