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WCVB-TV5 'Chronicle' series launches MIT project to help design Boston's future

'FutureBOSTON: Creating Competitive Edge in the Global Economy' will leverage the power of the web to foster global dialogue and collaboration

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in association with State Street Corporation, Distrigas/Suez, Blue Cross Blue Shield and the Boston Foundation, announced Oct. 8 a major project designed to help position Boston at the forefront of world-class cities of the future. 

"FutureBOSTON: Creating Competitive Edge in the Global Economy" will address the challenges and opportunities facing Boston in the coming century, and offer participants the chance to propose solutions to issues affecting the life of the city.

FutureBOSTON will kick off with a specially produced WCVB-TV5 "Chronicle" television series that will run each week for four consecutive Tuesdays, starting Oct. 9. Filmed on location in Dublin, Ireland; Vancouver, Canada; Portland, Oregon; and Seoul, Korea, these "case studies" will look at how each city dealt with its own urban challenges and the lessons that Bostonians can learn from their experiences.

The "Chronicle" series will be followed by three online competitions in the spring of 2008 - part of the project's overall vision to enhance the Boston region's competitive edge. These "Interactive Symposia" are designed to harvest solutions to the critical challenges facing Boston in three key areas: health, design and environmental sustainability.

"The goal of FutureBOSTON is to spark a worldwide interactive dialogue about key aspects of urban life in the coming century," said MIT chancellor and urban planner Phillip Clay. "We also hope to illustrate the significance of the research university to the economic life of the Boston region."

The Interactive Symposia are online experiments to see how far collaborators can go in framing concepts, generating models and posting their ideas on the web.

"We invite people from around the globe to suggest solutions to problems confronting Boston, such as how to create new affordable homes along Massachusetts Avenue, and new jobs in sustainable live-work districts around Boston's research universities," said Tom Piper, executive director of FutureBOSTON and a senior research scientist at MIT.

"The idea is to allow teams locally and from around the world to share and manipulate data--such as maps, video, pictures and spreadsheets-in real time, providing a new way for citizens to shape the cities in which they live."

As the symposia unfold, WBUR radio will simultaneously report on the activities of local innovators in Boston's emerging economic sectors, highlighting the region's propensity for reinvention and renewal at critical points in its development history.

FutureBOSTON will be powered by Zude, a new social networking platform developed by Five G Systems that will run on, The Boston Globe's Internet portal. With Zude, IdeaJAM participants will be able to team with MIT students and faculty as well as to tap into the expertise of the world's largest technical professional association, the 370,000-member Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, IEEE.

FutureBOSTON will culminate in a WCVB-TV5 television special,"FutureBOSTON Prime Time," to be broadcast live from MIT on May 29, 2008. It will introduce the winners of the three IdeaJAMS, and present the recommendations of a national panel of judges, including Carleton "Carly" S. Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard; Rep. Edward J. Markey; and Yung Ho Chang, head of MIT's Department of Architecture. 

FutureBOSTON is convened by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and principally underwritten by Blue Cross Blue Shield/MA, Distrigas/Suez, State Street Corporation and The Boston Foundation.  Sponsors include the Boston Society of Architects, Chiofaro Company, Five G Systems, Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), John Hancock Insurance, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, National Association of Industrial and Office Properties/MA, Novartis Institutes, Partners Healthcare, and Staples.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 24, 2007 (download PDF).

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