Twitter and Uber may be based in San Francisco, but Santiagos Chilecon Valley and the South Korean capital Seoul could both make claims
Before long, Santiago could be a city full of electric vehicles charged by smart power grids, many of them driving on highways equipped with traffic-reducing automated variable toll pricing. Perhaps a new arrival to the Chilean capital would go for the chance to found a technology company, incentivised by programmes like the state-backed, foreigner-friendly Start-Up Chile, in Chilecon Valley. And perhaps theyll stay for the capitals reputation boasting the most advanced public transit system in Latin America.
Or they might opt for Africa instead of South America, to take advantage of the assistance offered by organisations like SmartXchange in Durban. Not only does South Africas third largest city now have an increasingly tech-savvy middle class population, it has schools like the Durban University of Technology, whose Urban Futures Centre is even developing technological solutions to the common challenges of drug use, security and policing strategy. If these succeed, Durban, like Santiago, may count itself among the highest-tech cities sooner than the rest of the world could imagine.
An urbanite cannot live by startup incubation alone only implementing the latest technology within a sound built and social environment can make a city truly hi-tech. Indeed, I kept hearing the same answer from current and former San Franciscans asked to name the best such cities in the world right now: Not San Francisco. Yet last year Tech Insiders ranked the undeniable epicentre of all things tech, from its gigantic start-up culture to its venture capital scene to its population of designers and programmers, at the top spot. If San Francisco doesnt rank among the most hi-tech cities in the world, which city could?
The epicentre of tech lies less in San Francisco proper than in Silicon Valley to the south (Tech Insiders list conflates the two). Its the birthplace of the personal computer, now home to Apple, Google, Facebook, Intel and Stanford University, and the cradle of thousands upon thousands of startups. Only in recent years have large numbers of technology companies and their workers based themselves in urban San Francisco instead of the suburban Silicon Valley, and the resulting conflicts between the long-term bohemian population and these wealthy new arrivals have exposed its real, underdeveloped technological state.