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McKinsey on how to keep your city from going to hell in a hand basket

Posting in Technology

Chengdu can do. Chengdu, China, population 14 million, is one city getting it right, building an economy based on technology manufacturing, and integrating migrant workers, according to McKinsey.

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The world is urbanizing. Get it right, and it could mean "great things for economic growth," says McKinsey & Co. Get it wrong and you're looking at catastrophe, the scare mongerer, I mean, consulting giant, warns.

In a video entitled How to make a city great, but which could just as easily have been called How buying consulting cervices can keep your city from going to hell in a hand basket, McKinsey notes that 60 percent of the world's population will live in cities by 2030.

"Why does getting urbanization right matter?" asks McKinsey director Eric Woetzel. "Well for one thing, you can get it wrong. There are no rich countries which are not urbanized. There are many urbanized countries which are not rich. And an urbanized place which is not rich leads to a whole lot of problems."

Problems? Like what?

"Social problems, crime, unemployment, illiteracy, poverty, a vicious circle of declining productivity," he says, rattling off a veritable check list from the Ten Plagues.

But here's the thing: As McKinsey notes, there's no alternative to urbanization. So if you want to make sure your city glistens rather than rots, give the firm a call because as Woetzel points out, "There has to be good practice and policy. And there has to be good leadership. Without that, the urban paradise may become an inferno, quite literally."

It just so happens that McKinsey can provide you with some advice on good practice, policy and leadership.

Yes, there's hope. View the video and its slide show, and you'll spot nine cities that have found some mojo. Among them: China's Chengdu has excelled at technology-based economic development and migrant integration, Dakar and Bogota at water management, Medellin at public private partnerships that look after social needs, Vancouver at housing and Boston at making sure snow plows arrive (using apps, of course).

If you're developing a city, do like Chengdu and the others. Contact McKinsey, or you'll be boarding the express bus to Dante-ville.

Image is from Fangoufang via Wikimedia

More urbanization tips and trends on SmartPlanet (not intended to frighten you):

— By on October 1, 2013, 8:47 PM PST

Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure