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Welcome to the June edition of Voices on Infrastructure, in which we focus on cities. Already, more than half the world’s population lives in cities, and millions more move to urban areas every year. To meet their needs and expectations, infrastructure is critical.

The problem, according to McKinsey research, is that the world is spending far less on infrastructure than is required to keep up with economic growth. Closing this gap, particularly in the complex urban context, will require ingenuity, dedication, and leadership. In this edition of Voices, we offer some of the best contemporary thinking on this subject.  While McKinsey plays an important part in producing Voices, more than half the contributions represent the views of leading external practitioners, which are not always consistent with those of McKinsey.

City builders feature prominently. Fahd Al-Rasheed discusses the challenge of building  a city from scratch, the King Abdullah Economic City in Saudi Arabia. From China, Tian Jinchen of the National Development and Reform Commission describes China’s effort to create a modern Silk Road.

Mobility and access are critical elements of urban life. Architect and urban theorist Helle Søholt describes what makes public space great and how cities can achieve both mobility and civility. Jay Walder, head of a global bike-sharing company, reflects on how technology could change how people get around cities. Author Parag Khanna (video) maps the future of cities and examines how megacities are changing the world. McKinsey contributions include essay on how technology and social trends are changing urban mobility.

Governance is another important theme.  Christopher Heathcote of the Global Infrastructure Hub provides an overview of how governments can encourage private-sector investment in infrastructure. John Means and Benjamin Barber, the founder of the Global Parliament of Mayors, examine how to harness the power of mayors. Michael Berkowitz (video) presents the Rockefeller Foundation’s “100 Resilient Cities.” Ashay Prabhu and Janna de Groot of Assetic, an asset-management firm, offer a practical approach that demonstrates how data can improve infrastructure productivity.

How cities evolve will be one of the defining features of the 21st century. We want Voices to be part of the conversation about how to do this—and invite you to join us.

—Jonathan Woetzel
Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company
Director, McKinsey Global Institute

More Articles

Article

Understanding an infrastructure asset’s unique characteristics can extend its life span—and save money.

Janna de Groot and Ashay Prabhu, Assetic

Article

By working together, cities can help solve global problems.

Benjamin Barber, Global Parliament of Mayors, and John Means, McKinsey & Company

Article

How consumers and technology are redefining how people get around.

Interview with Jay Walder, Motivate

Article

An interview with Helle Søholt.

Interview with Helle Søholt, Gehl

Article

There are signs that America’s city dwellers are beginning to change the way they get around. Here is how city leaders can plan ahead.

Shannon Bouton, Stefan Knupfer, and Steven Swartz, McKinsey & Company

Article

China is leading the effort to create the world’s largest economic platform.

Tian Jinchen, China's National Development and Reform Commission

Article

How governments can encourage private-sector infrastructure investment.

Christopher Heathcote, Global Infrastructure Hub

Videos & Podcasts

Podcast

Trevor Fowler, City Manager of Johannesburg; Uwe Krueger, CEO of Atkins; Kasim Reed, Mayor of Atlanta

Video

McKinsey's Jonathan Woetzel talks about how cities are engines of productivity by enhancing the number and frequency of interactions.

Jonathan Woetzel, McKinsey & Company

Video

Michael Berkowitz, President of 100 Resilient Cities, talks about planning for future sustainability.

Michael Berkowitz, 100 Resilient Cities

Video

Jay Walder, CEO of Motivate, talks about the influence of technology and infrastructure innovations for the cities of the future.

Jay Walder, Motivate

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