Playlist TED Conferences

8 talks with ideas for healthier cities

Posted by: Kate Torgovnick May
Ron Finley is just one TED speaker with an idea for improving the health of his city. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Ron Finley is just one TED speaker with an idea for improving the health of his city. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Cities, traditionally, have not been the healthiest of places. The spread of diseases, sanitation issues, pollution — these things accelerate with large masses of people living in close quarters. But is that the way it needs to be? Could the cities of the future also be places where all people get top-notch healthcare, and where people collectively help each other live healthfully?

At TEDCity2.0, a one-day conference being held in New York City on September 20, two dozen plus speakers will take the stage to share bold ideas on the future of cities. They will speak on topics ranging from health to housing, art to education, safety to transportation, with the talks focused around the theme “Dream me. Build me. Make me real.”

To get you excited for TEDCity2.0, and the TEDxCity2.0 events that will surround it, watch these great talks on improving health in urban areas.

Rebecca Onie: What if our healthcare system kept us healthy? Rebecca Onie: What if our healthcare system kept us healthy?
Rebecca Onie: What if our healthcare system kept us healthy?
A child with an ear infection may get a prescription for antibiotics, but the real problem is usually an overcrowded apartment and a lack of food at home. This was a hard lesson that Rebecca Onie learned while working at the pediatrics unit of Boston Medical Center. At TEDMED 2012, she shares how this experience inspired her to start Health Leads, a program that can prescribe heat in winter or extermination for infestations, and connect patients with the resources they need to improve issues underlying health.
Bill Davenhall: Your health depends on where you live Bill Davenhall: Your health depends on where you live
Bill Davenhall: Your health depends on where you live
Bill Davenhall is a pioneer of “geo-medicine.” At TEDMED 2009, he shows that even the most avid of travelers spends the grand majority of their time at home and at work — repeated exposure to specific locations that come with their own specific health risks. This talk is a call for doctors to look carefully at geo-data — local heart attack rates and toxic materials maps — to determine how to best treat patients.
Ron Finley: A guerilla gardener in South Central LA Ron Finley: A guerilla gardener in South Central LA
Ron Finley: A guerrilla gardener in South Central LA
Ron Finley lives in a portion of Los Angeles that’s “home of the drive-thru and the drive-by.” Surprisingly, Finley is most concerned with the former. At TED2013, he describes how the lack of good food in South Central is affecting health, and reveals why he decided to plant a public vegetable garden on the side of a road. A look at how “gangsta” gardeners could improve the health of their entire community.
Steven Johnson: How the "ghost map" helped end a killer disease Steven Johnson: How the "ghost map" helped end a killer disease
Steven Johnson: How the “ghost map” helped end a killer disease
Author Steven Johnson takes us back to the cholera outbreak of 1854 in London, then the largest city in the world, in this talk from TEDSalon 2006. While most people at the time believed the disease was airborne, a particularly astute doctor by the name of John Snow set out to prove that the disease was actually carried by water. In this talk, Johnson tells the story of the “ghost map,” which proved this hypothesis and led to a slew of reforms that saved lives.
Eric Dishman: Health care should be a team sport Eric Dishman: Health care should be a team sport
Eric Dishman: Health care should be a team sport
Most doctors work in silos, examining patients and performing tests on their own, without consulting doctors of other specialties who might provide a deeper understanding of what is happening with a patient. At TED@Intel, Eric Dishman makes the case that it should in fact take a city — a patient working with a collaborative team of doctors — to come up with the best treatment.
Noah Wilson-Rich: Every city needs healthy honey bees Noah Wilson-Rich: Every city needs healthy honey bees
Noah Wilson-Rich: Every city needs healthy honey bees
Honey bees are essential for pollinating fruits and vegetables — and yet all around the world, these bee populations are mysteriously disappearing because of colony collapse disorder. In this talk from TEDxBoston 2012, Noah Wilson-Rich suggests that urban bee-keeping may be the answer. A look at how bees can flourish in cities, saving both the species while allowing for urban farming.
Ernest Madu: World-class health care Ernest Madu: World-class health care
Ernest Madu: World-class health care
In Kingston, Jamaica, Ernest Madu founded the Heart Institute of the Caribbean. It’s an institution that, thanks to tech-savvy solutions and good design, provides incredible cardiovascular healthcare in the developing world, where heart health is generally left up to fate.  At TEDGlobal 2007, Madu describes how cities can improve their population’s well-being in a ripple effect by providing healthcare.
Vikram Patel: Mental health for all by involving all Vikram Patel: Mental health for all by involving all
Vikram Patel: Mental health for all by involving all
450 million people across the globe suffer from mental illness — it’s a health issue at play in every major city. In wealthy nations, about half of people who need it receive care for mental illness — but in the developing world, about 90 percent of cases go untreated because of a startling lack of psychiatrists. At TEDGlobal 2012, Vikram Patel shares a radical idea to get help for those who need it — train whoever is available in local communities to provide mental health interventions.