Bruce Cahan is CEO and co-founder of Urban Logic, a nonprofit that harnesses finance and technology to change how systems think, act and feel.
Urban Logic began in the 1991 as Bruce's idea to make New York City a livable city, more accountable for its sustainability decisions in real time, by using geographic information. Bruce conceived NYMAP, a composite map of all City geo-tagged information, so as to see where and what infrastructure, environmental, transportation and emergency response needs and capacities might coexist and align for greater public and private good. At first, City Agencies resisted, resting on their information fiefdoms. Through Bruce’s research and advocacy with the Mayor’s Office of Operations, Office of Management & Budget and City Council, funding was found in the City’s capital budget to create a geographic information utility, NYCMAP, that is the cornerstone today for managing NYC operations.
By the mid-1990s, the Federal Geographic Data Committee of the national Office of Management & Budget had noticed Bruce’s use of finance, law and organizational principles to deploy interoperability in NYC. They asked him to research how to finance the nation’s geographic information infrastructure on a more cooperative basis with government, corporate and nonprofit partners. Urban Logic’s reports and Bruce’s design for I-Teams allowed OMB to create a 49 state initiative to promote sharing standardized geographic information, much of which is accessible now through web services like Google Earth® and other viewers.
With the World Trade Center Attacks, Bruce became an emergency responder, stationed at the NYC Mayor’s Command Center, and serving as liaison for federal agency geographic and other assets. It was there that Bruce saw first hand how much data existed about conditions in a major city like NYC, but that remained cloistered until a crisis erupts. As a municipal bond and corporate finance lawyer and merchant banker, Bruce realized that safe, “artificial” crises could be created through a credit rating that rewarded sustainability, rather than just the ability to repay debt.
Based on his 9/11 experiences, Bruce decided to create a high transparency bank, known now as the GoodBank™(IO) project. Through the bank, regional quality of life measures would reward credit and savings customers, favoring sustainable choices. As municipal finance, the bank would provide new options for livable cities and their environmental, public health and other social sector programs, and their nonprofit and social entrepreneur partners. (For more on GoodBank, see www.goodbank.info/w)
Bruce’s design for financing smart cities doesn’t stop at City Hall, data or the pavement. As a New York subway rider for 25 years, Bruce saw the potential for small package freight to move through subways instead of streets. Urban Logic’s design (SubEx) for undergrounding this freight and creating additional revenues to support mass transit was a finalist in the 2009 Buckminster Fuller Design Challenge, http://challenge.bfi.org/application_summary/461.
Bruce was trained as an international finance lawyer and merchant banker, at Weil Gotshal & Manges (10 years) and Asian Oceanic (2 years). As a social entrepreneur, Bruce acquired skills as a government technologist, emergency responder and someone who enjoys reconnecting meaning to how the world works. Bruce graduated The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (B.S. Economics 1976) and Temple Law School (J.D. 1979), and passed the bar exams and practiced law in California (2006), New York (1980) and Pennsylvania (1980).
Bruce is the father of twin 20 year olds, Jake and Eli.
Areas of Expertise
Law, Public-Private Partnerships, Government Technology, Organizing & Funding Regional Data & Information Consortia, Social Sector Finance, Socially-Conscious Consumerism, Sustainable Resiliency(R), Banking & Finance, Social Entrepreneurship, Interfaith Economic Beliefs
An idea worth spreading
Our global banks and financial rating systems have failed. They lack credible commitment to social sector values or continuity. They are the legacy of camouflaging how money moved in a industrial age powered by fossil fuels through web of sovereign and corporate hierarchies.
High transparency banks - where corporate governance and supply chain data are easy to apply to money movements - can change this picture, and prevent global monetary and climate crises.
I am working to create GoodBank™(IO), a new form of ethical bank, merging affinity group wisdom, supply chain accountability and regional economics.
I'm passionate about
Reconnecting the meaning of money, through high transparency banks that find and reward regional environmental and social impacts.
Talk to me about
Sustainable resiliency® to mash up regional quality of life performance benchmarks.
Means meter® to see the impacts of consumer decisions.
Procurement visualization to see how government s
People don't know I'm good at
Cooking, photography, networking & brainstorming.
Finding public finance justifications for sensible ideas.
Designing social sector space, the SC-Eco (Social Capital Ecosphere) as a safe cooperative
My TED story
I am working to create a high-transparency, ethical bank, GoodBank™(IO), to reconnect meaning and money in everyday life. (For more, please look at the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank's Community Development Investment Review http://bit.ly/CahanFRBSF and Fast Company http://bit.ly/GoodBankinFastCompany.)
Somewhere along the way of creating a "high-transparency, impacts-aware" bank in Silicon Valley, I realized that start-up mecca (SV) didn't really seem tuned into the disruptable moment in banking innovation that moving from Industrial Age to Information Age banking could achieve, to make banking fairer, cheaper, safer and more accountable. So I decided to create TEDxNewWallStreet, and we held the first on March 11, 2012 - 200 people heard 16 speakers describe a New Wall Street, built in Silicon Valley in, of and for the Information Age.