Maslow as Mayor
Imagine if psychologist Abraham Maslow was a Mayor in America today. What would he have to say about setting priorities in his city? How would he face the competing challenges for scarce resources as he set priorities for progress?
For many casual college students like myself, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and the pyramid that visualized his work, may be among the few things we remember from Psychology 101. For a city in recovery, Maslow’s hierarchy is a useful frame to discuss how cities satisfy the aspirations of citizens with competing needs.
All leaders aspire for a city that is full of engaged and healthy citizens, working families, and robust commerce. The city in our strategic plans is a place where everyone fulfills their dreams and their higher purpose. Mayor Maslow would argue, that for these dreams to be actualized, foundational needs like food, shelter, and safety must be guaranteed.
Last week in Los Angeles leaders from across the country convened to talk about the city of tomorrow at City Lab 2014. The rooms were full of hope, excitement and the promise that technology and greater understanding could lead to resurgence in cities across the country. The leaders, without exception, were people who had core personal needs met, with high paying jobs, safe shelter, and plenty of food and drink. They spoke earnestly of how they wanted to share technology with the masses as a pathway towards recovery.
At ShotSpotter we understand that there are neighborhoods in almost every city where fellow Americans live in a virtual bunker, paralyzed by fear from the threat of gun violence. We know that there are children who just focus on making it to and from the classroom without getting shot, who are hungry not for an advanced education, but just a safe place to play.
If Maslow were a Mayor in America today, I bet he would find ShotSpotter an interesting technology to measure if survival needs in parts of his city were being met. He would probably attack his challenges in tandem. As his city strove to partner with new transportation platforms as a means to mitigate traffic, Maslow might deploy ShotSpotter in violence-prone neighborhoods as a step towards guaranteeing public safety. Maslow’s future city might improve the lifestyle for the “haves” while providing hope for the “have-nots.”