Miami on the Edge: Urban Change Between Climate Gentrification and Technology Attraction
Even under existential threats from rising sea levels, Miami is attracting much attention and investment from the technology industry, which accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hyped as 'the next Silicon Beach' and promoted by mayor Francis Suarez's campaign to boost the city's economy through "coders, crypto, and capital", the city is in the process of reinventing itself as a high-technology hub in the shadow of climate catastrophe. These dynamics collide in Miami's high-elevation areas, sites of both incoming investment and likely 'climate gentrification'. Combining satellite imagery analysis in Google Earth Engine, real estate, eviction, and interview data, this project answers: how are the city of Miami and its residents (particularly in high elevation neighborhoods) responding to the twin forces of climate change and technological attraction? Understanding cities' responses to technology attraction and climate-related catastrophe is vital to address climate resilience, ensure shared prosperity, and prevent uneven outcomes from development.
This project will combine top-down and bottom-up perspectives to address knowledge gaps about the impacts produced on Miami's urban geography by the twin forces of climate-change induced flooding and technology-induced development and investment. This will be achieved by triangulating (1) analysis of satellite imagery via Google Earth Engine to estimate flood risk areas, (2) spatial analysis of real estate market fluctuations and other urban change data across Miami's neighborhoods (top-down), with (3) interviews about the experiences of key stakeholder like community groups, government actors and businesses (bottom-up). Integrating these perspectives, the project will achieve a well-rounded understanding of the factors producing change in Miami at the intersection of climate change and technology attraction, the impacts of these changes in the city's configuration, and the responses of residents and other key stakeholders. The circumstances reshaping Miami are analogous to those affecting cities from Singapore to New York City, all sought-after locations in the digital economy under threat from catastrophic climate change-related events.