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CityLab: More than 300 mayors, urban leaders converge in LA to tackle city challenges

Walt Disney Concert Hall, home of the LA Phil, in Downtown Los Angeles.
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
Walt Disney Concert Hall, home of the LA Phil, is shown in this file photo taken in Downtown Los Angeles.

More than 300 mayors — along with top city planners, technologists, designers and other experts — converged in Los Angeles on Monday for a three-day conference addressing the challenges that face world cities and metro centers.

CityLab 2014, hosted by The Atlantic in partnership with the Aspen Institute and Bloomberg Philanthropies, includes talks with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Airbnb CEO and founder Brian Chesky, Lyft co-founder and president John Zimmer, and former New York City Mayor and media magnate Michael Bloomberg.

KPCC is releasing interviews and more audio from the event in CityCast, available on iTunes and Stitcher.

In conjunction with the CityLab conference, Bloomberg announced a new $125 million competition focused on improving road safety in low- and middle-income countries.

"Traffic crashes take more than a million lives each year and injure tens of millions of people in addition. Ninety percent of those deaths are in low and middle income countries, and every one of them is a tragedy and most of them could be prevented with better rules, better enforcement and smarter infrastructure," Bloomberg said.

You can hear Bloomberg speak here

Meanwhile, city leaders debated in a panel Monday afternoon whether big data can help reduce gun violence.

Panelists agreed that data are better at identifying gun violence trends than in actually solving the problem. Yet looking at the data reveals trends that researchers hope can lead them to solutions.

As an example, data show how a few people are responsible for many crimes: “Twenty-seven percent of families are responsible for 80 percent of the gun violence in Philadelphia,” said panelist Jamira Burley, executive director of Philadelphia’s Youth Commission. Burley estimated that there are fewer than 200 people in those families.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said he sees a similar concentration of offenders in his city, and most perpetrators of violence are young African-American men. “The one thing no one knows how to do is stop black boys from killing black boys,” Landrieu said.

Landrieu said he was asked by a CNN host if New Orleans was safe. He wasn’t sure how to answer the question.

That’s because whether it’s safe entirely depends who you are. If you’re a visitor wandering around Bourbon Street or going to the city’s music venues, your chances of getting shot are very slim. But if you’re a young African-American male, New Orleans is anything but safe.

Another panelist, Dan Chipman, a former Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent who is now senior vice president at ShotSpotter, Inc., said that a typical police department only knows about 10 percent of shootings because many residents don’t report them.

ShotSpotter, Inc., tries to fix that problem by tracking shootings and issuing immediate alerts to subscribing law enforcement agencies whenever shots are fired.

CityLab conference itself is invite-only, but a separate public event was scheduled for Monday evening at the Ace Hotel in downtown L.A. Garcetti was expected to do a one-on-one interview about what it means to be an Angeleno. Other speakers at the public event include: Chef Roy Choi; Meg Gill, Golden Road Brewing; Paige Adams-Geller, Paige Denim; Bettina Korek, ForYourArt; Michael Govan, LACMA executive director; and Rick Caruso, Caruso Affiliated.

Listen to L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti talk at the conference

Tweets from #CityLab2014