As San Diegans, we’re used to hearing others talk about how special our region is. From our gorgeous beaches to our diverse cultures, people can’t help but gush about our community’s countless splendors.
In April, our secret became worldwide news when National Geographic premiered “World’s Smart Cities: San Diego,” a documentary sponsored by The San Diego Foundation and other philanthropic, civic and business partners broadcast in 60 countries reaching over 250 million households worldwide to attract new business and visitors.
As the only U.S. city to be spotlighted, San Diego was chosen because of its strong technology sector, local innovators, green practices, smart public planning and unparalleled quality of life. The documentary goes beyond the weather and lifestyle that most people know about to credit the city’s talent, innovation and creativity at the core of its economic boom.
In the past year alone, San Diego ranked as the 11th highest in employment growth rate of the most populous U.S. metro cities and, according to the Regional Economic Development Corporation, touted 138,000 jobs supporting the city’s innovation economy.
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- Rob Quigley, local architect, discusses the revitalization of the once-blighted downtown area into a dynamic urban center, set against the new San Diego Central Library, which he designed.
- San Diego International Airport in downtown connects San Diego to the world with nonstop flights to 59 destinations including London via British Airways and Tokyo via Japan Airlines.
- The colorful neighborhoods of Little Italy and Barrio Logan highlight the rich history, diversity and multi-cultural offerings within San Diego, one the most ethnically diverse cities in the U.S.
- Su-Mei Yu, local chef, discusses the city’s culinary scene, defined by high-quality fresh produce found in 6,000 sustainable small farms and influenced by its rich multi-cultural makeup.
- Neva Parker, director of laboratory operations at White Labs, brings attention to San Diego’s 100 craft breweries through the development of brewer’s yeast, a key ingredient in brewing.
- Troy Sears, sailing captain, highlights San Diego Bay: a working port, recreational playground and home to the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet, and where the blue whale has recently made a comeback.
- Jimmy Spithill, Australian-born two-time America’s Cup winner, discusses why he has lived in San Diego; he states, “It has a vibrant feel, pace and energy, but (it’s) not overwhelming. It’s the relaxed lifestyle.”
- Rob Machado, professional surfer, discusses San Diego’s healthy, outdoor lifestyle and brings attention to the city’s beautiful beaches and a local surf clinic for kids with disabilities.
- Jim Avery, senior vice president of San Diego Gas & Electric, a Sempra Energy utility, discusses the Smart Grid which increases significantly the use of renewable energy and helps manage the city’s power.
- The Unified Port of San Diego’s working waterfront includes a portfolio of world-class commercial real estate, maritime and public uses. Its Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal is highlighted for a shore-power system that improves air quality and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by allowing cargo vessels to “plug in” rather than run diesel engines while in port.
- Stephen Mayfield, professor of biology at the University of California, San Diego, explains how his consortium of academic researchers is collaborating with industry to help make biofuels from algae a commercially viable transportation fuel in the future.
- Rick Klausner, chief medical officer at Illumina, discusses the transformation of human health with new products that enable researchers to explore DNA at an entirely new scale, and help them understand gene variations associated with health and disease.
- Navrina Singh, program leader, shares how the Qualcomm® Thinkabit Lab™ provides students from all cultural and socio-economic backgrounds in San Diego with access to hands-on experiences in engineering in a classroom that is equal parts engineering lab and art studio.
- George Guerra, unmanned aircraft expert, discusses how the Northrop Grumman built NASA Global Hawk conducts missions around the world to study scientific and environmental phenomena in depth, which may be too difficult or dangerous for manned missions.
- Todd Schmitt, senior veterinarian, discusses SeaWorld’s Zoological Stem Cell Bank Initiative which contributes to the scientific advancement of stem cell use in marine species and has the potential to replace drugs in the treatment of many chronic diseases, especially in older animals.
National Geographic Channel’s “World’s Smart Cities: San Diego” documentary is an unprecedented exploration of the 8th largest U.S. city where technology, talent and innovation create a new urban environment – one that will emerge as a leading city in the 21st century.