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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


9 reasons Nat Geo calls us a “Smart City”

April 24, 2015

While San Diego is known to the rest of the world as “America’s Finest City,” it also happens to be one of the world’s smartest cities.

At least that’s the way the National Geographic Channel sees it. San Diego is featured in Nat Geo’s “World’s Smart Cities” documentary, a one-hour documentary special uncovering what makes this unique city one of the most innovative, forward thinking cities across the globe. The documentary begins airing tomorrow on the Nat Geo Channel at 8 a.m.

In anticipation of tomorrow’s public premiere, we’ve pulled together 9 reasons Nat Geo calls us a Smart City.

Here it goes:

  1. We don’t just drink beer, we make it too.

    Home to nearly 100 craft breweries, San Diego is serious about suds. But it’s not just about drinking it; it’s also about brewing it. In the documentary, you’ll meet Neva Parker, director of laboratory operations at White Labs, who talks about cultivating brewer’s yeast, a key ingredient in the brewing process.
     
  1. Our grid is smart.

    Today, 32 percent of San Diego’s electricity is renewable, and there is no coal in SDG&E’s energy portfolio. Jim Avery of Sempra Energy discusses the Smart Grid which increases the use of renewable energy and helps manage the region’s power.
     
  1. Our port makes us a  “plug-in.”

    Speaking of clean energy, the Port has fully switched to a shore-power system that improves air quality and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by allowing cargo vessels to "plug in" rather than run their diesel engines while in port.  You can catch some sweeping views of the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal in the documentary.
     
  1. We cultivate the innovators of the future.

    Most San Diegans know the story of Qualcomm, the region’s largest private-sector employer, but what many people in San Diego (and across the world) don’t know is about their focus on cultivating future leaders. In the documentary, Host Andrew Evans visits Qualcomm® Thinkabit Lab™, equal parts innovation lab and art studio, that provides students from all cultural and socio-economic backgrounds in San Diego with access to hands-on experiences in engineering. They are ensuring San Diego remains a “smart city” for generations to come.
     
  1. We’re home to one of the smartest universities in the world…and they just created the world’s first algae-based surfboard.

    UC San Diego campus is one of the top 15 research universities in the world and is an innovator nationally in solar and other renewable technologies. At the California Center for Algae Biotechnology, which host Andrew Evans visits, UC San Diego researcher Stephen Mayfield is turning pond scum into fuel for the next generation of transportation. He also turned this pond scum into the world’s first algae-based surfboard, which he showed off at the San Diego premiere Tuesday evening.
     
  1. Innovation is in our DNA.

    When it comes to the field of genomics, San Diego is second to none. Evans pays a visit to Illumina, the first company that cracked the $1,000 genome challenge, to get his DNA mapped by Chief Medical Officer Rick Klausner. Illumina was called the “World’s Smartest Company” ahead of Samsung, Google and Tesla by MIT Technology Review. It’s no coincidence the “World’s Smartest company” is headquartered in one of the “World’s Smart Cities.”
     
  1. We make the things that go where no man can go.

    From the frozen Arctic to the coast of Africa, the Northrop Grumman-built NASA Global Hawk has flown all over the globe conducting unprecedented scientific and environmental missions. Evans explores San Diego’s dynamic aerospace industry through the eyes of Northrop Grumman, where he has the opportunity to meet with George Guerra, an unmanned aircraft expert.
     
  1. Lifesaving innovations are applied to multiple fields.

    SeaWorld is more than just a theme park operator – they’re also an innovator. In the documentary, we meet Todd Schmitt, senior veterinarian at SeaWorld, who 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.
     
  1. Our people care.

    San Diego resident Rob Machado is a surfing hall of famer and legend. Yet rather than focusing on his sport and why it’s important to the culture of San Diego, he chose to focus on the volunteer work that he and others are doing through the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) to help children with disabilities learn to surf, develop confidence in themselves and connect with the ocean and nature.

It’s easy to see that San Diego is more than just the beach. Make sure not to miss out on the full picture, see why we’re one of the “World’s Smart Cities.” The program will air Saturday, April 25, 8-9 a.m., and Saturday, May 2, 8-9 a.m., on the National Geographic Channel.