Madison McVeigh/CityLab

The podcast on how technology is disrupting, remaking, and sometimes overrunning our cities. Hosted by Molly Turner and Jim Kapsis.

From electric scooters to the gig economy, technology is reshaping the way people live and work in cities. But these changes often happen without public permission—or even public knowledge. Who is all this tech for? How will it transform our streets in ways we aren’t expecting? And which innovations will actually improve our quality of life? Hosted by urban innovation professor Molly Turner and startup advisor Jim Kapsis, Technopolis explores what needs to change for tech to help solve more problems than it creates.

Listen and subscribe: Apple Podcasts / Stitcher / Google Play / Spotify

Lizzie Jacobs is Executive Producer. Virginia Lora is Associate Producer.

Episode 4

Battery City: Are batteries the key to our cities' energy future?

Will every building in your city one day be powered by a battery? In this episode, Molly and Jim look at how energy storage could change everything about how we turn on the lights and get around town. And they'll explore how renewable energy might keep our cities running even when the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow. They talk with John Zahurancik of Fluence Energy and Rushad Nanavatty of Rocky Mountain Institute. They also make an inspiring phone call to Dan Neil, auto columnist for the Wall Street Journal.

Episode 3

Disruptor City: Should startups ask permission from cities before they drop their tech on city streets?

Scooters show up on your corner. Cars with mustaches show up on your streets. You didn't know these new innovations were coming until they were there in front of you. But did your city? Oftentimes, no. That's because tech companies have long prided themselves on their rule-defying business models. But as we've learned from past controversies, showing up without seeking city permission can cause as many problems as it avoids.

Molly and Jim take on the seminal question for urban startups: Should they ask for permission or beg for forgiveness? Jim shares a conversation with Bradley Tusk, an early policy advisor to Uber; and Seleta Reynolds, head of LA Department of Transportation. And Molly and Jim both talk with Nina Hernandez, a reporter at the Austin Chronicle, about her city's infamous showdown between ride-hailing and regulation.

Related reading from CityLab

The Electric Scooter War Is No Joke

Who Owns Urban Mobility Data?

To Measure the ‘Uber Effect,’ Cities Get Creative

Episode 2

Self-Driving City: What does our future really look like when autonomous vehicles take over the roads?

Molly and Jim take us on a tour of self-driving cars’ less-considered effects: vomit, sex, and criminalized pedestrians. But also: Will self-driving cars carry our groceries before they carry us? They talk with Nan Ransohoff, the head of product at AV startup Nuro; and Jeff Tumlin, a transportation consultant focused on sustainability.

Related reading from CityLab

Self-Driving Cars Could Be Bad for Walkable Cities

How the Self-Driving Dream Might Become a Self-Driving Nightmare

Self-Driving Cars Still Have a Lot to Learn

The ‘Driverless Experience’ Looks Awfully Distracting

Cities Have Taken the Lead in Regulating Driverless Vehicles

The Social Responsibility of Wakanda’s Golden City


Episode 1

Venture-Backed City: Why are investors pouring so much cash into urban tech?

Smartphones and the apps they’ve spawned have changed city life in fundamental ways. When did investors decide to get so involved in our sidewalks? And did they really set out to transform our cities, or was it just a byproduct of market domination?

On this first episode of Technopolis, Molly and Jim follow the money behind the explosion in urban tech. We talk to Jason Calacanis, early Uber investor, start-up founder, and author of Angel: How to Invest in Start-Ups. They also talk with Warren Logan, Senior Transportation Planner at San Francisco County Transportation Authority about how cities cope with all the disruption in the epicenter of venture-backed tech.

Related reading from CityLab

Behind the Big Promises of the Micromobility Industry

Urban Tech is Unleashing Creative Destruction on Cities

No, Urban Tech Startups Aren’t Transforming All American Cities

The Extreme Geographic Inequality of High-Tech Venture Capital

To Measure the ‘Uber Effect,’ Cities Get Creative


Listen to the trailer


About the hosts

Jim Kapsis was a climate negotiator in the Obama administration and now advises tech startups. He was a senior advisor to Sidewalk Labs, Alphabet’s urban venture.

Molly Turner is an urban planner who teaches urban innovation at the Berkeley Haas School of Business. She was the first policy person at Airbnb.

About the Author

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