Cities have an underlying and unique DNA – just as organisms do – which sets the background to their form, function and feel. A city’s DNA contains enduring characteristics, those features which are passed down from one generation (i.e. political or economic cycle) to the next. These characteristics stem from the city’s constituent elements: its population, infrastructure, climate, location, economic specialisation, urban design or politics.
To know a city’s DNA is to understand underlying truths about a city. Cities that understand their DNA are at an advantage in the latest phase of globalisation. Marketing and branding exercises that grasp a city’s DNA will have an authentic resonance, supported and enhanced by visitors and inhabitants. Cross-city DNA comparison can help identify suitable international role models. Studying a city’s past relationship with its DNA offers leaders clues as to which future pathways have the best chances of success.
The Business of Cities helps city leaders to understand and work with city DNA, in order to optimise outcomes for their city.
The Business of Cities’ paper on the DNA of Cities is forthcoming