Citizen roles in resilient cities – Ron Dembo, Zerofootprint

By on 03/31/2014

mp3 icon Citizen Roles in Resilient Cities – Ron Dembo

Ron Dembo


Ron Dembo is the founder and CEO of Zerofootprint, a company that uses software to engage and reward the positive behavior of large groups of individuals. Prior to founding Zerofootprint he founded and grew Algorithmics, the largest enterprise risk management software company in the world with over 70% of the worlds largest financial institutions as clients. Prior to Algorithmics he was a Professor at Yale University, cross appointed in Computer Science and Management. He sits on a number of boards and in 2007 was honored as a Fields Institute Fellow for his contribution to the Institute and to Canadian Mathematics. 


When we discuss resilience in cities we usually focus on infrastructure. Little attention is paid to the role citizen engagement and behavior change plays in making cities resilient.

In this lecture Ron Dembo argues that without the right behavior and an engaged population, even with the best infrastructure cities will not be resilient. Focusing on how software, targeted incentive schemes and a sharp focus on the demographics of the city can be used to facilitate engagement, it also highlights examples where a top down drive and a zero tolerance on unsocial behavior can help cities achieve resilience.

Propositions for addressing the issue:

Electricity: run regular “fire drills “ to get the population to be ready for a sharp drop in availability e.g. Fukushima.
Institute a single “currency for good” that rewards citizens for socially beneficial behavior.
Learn from cities like New York and others on how to get to a more resilient, engaged population


Cities, Villages & Adaptation to Climate Change, Ron Dembo (2009) 

Video interview in the Globe and Mail

Zerofootprint homepage 

Wikipedia: Ron Dembo


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