About Aaron M. Renn – The Urbanophile

Aaron M. Renn (Photo Credit: Daniel Axler)
Aaron M. Renn – Photo Credit: Daniel Axler

“The fresh ideas and innovative suggestions outlined almost daily in the Urbanophile offer a cogent and achievable sense of hope for the urban areas of the world.” – Planetizen

Aaron M. Renn is The Urbanophile, an opinion-leading urban affairs analyst, entrepreneur, speaker, and writer on a mission to help America’s cities thrive in the 21st century. In the Urbanophile he has created America’s premier destination for serious, in depth, non-partisan, and non-dogmatic analysis and discussion of the issues facing America’s cities and regions in the 21st century.

The Urbanophile site began in 2006, and it has developed into one of America’s top urban policy destinations. Renn’s writings have also appeared in publications such as Forbes, the New York Times, and City Journal. His insights on urban issues are regularly featured in the press (see Awards/Press), including by the New York Times, Time, the Economist, Swiss Public Radio, the London Daily Telegraph, and many more, along with TV and radio. And he’s also shared his insights through in person speaking appearances for organizations and events such as the International Downtown Association, the MAS Summit for New York City, Barcelona’s Smart City World Expo, the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, the Columbus Metropolitan Club, and the Urban Land Institute.

Renn is also the founder and CEO of Telestrian, a data analysis platform that provides powerful data mining and visualization capabilities previously only available in very expensive, difficult to use tools at a fraction of the cost and with far superior ease of use.

Renn’s insights are rooted in a 15 year career in management and IT consulting, where he was a partner at Accenture. His clients included companies such as Walgreens, United Parcel Service, and Allstate. In addition to being the lead manager for several multi-million dollar IT implementations, he was also a senior technology architect and served in several strategy roles, including Director of IT Strategy for both Accenture and Focal Communications.

He was honored by the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce for his innovative ideas for public transit in Chicago. The Urbanophile was also cited as among the most important urban planning web sites in America by Planetizen.

No stranger to the Internet or urban issues, Renn is a long time innovator in the in field. He was co-author of an early social-networking platform at Indiana University in 1991, which attracted over 4,000 users in an era before the web. He created multiple open source software packages, including the only program ever developed for recovering data from corrupted gzip files, and a clean-room implementation of the Java standard class libraries. In 1998 he launched one of the nation’s first blogs, The Weekly Breakdown, to cover the Chicago Transit Authority.

A native of Laconia, Indiana, a town of 29 people along the Ohio River, Renn grew up fascinated by those larger places known as cities, and made it his life’s preoccupation to learn what makes them tick.

For consulting, speaking, media, or other inquiries, you can reach Renn at

Below you can find a sampling of his public volunteer and open source software projects:

The Indianapolis Neighborhood Map

Along with Josh Anderson and Matt Hale, his collaborators in the urban design collective Naplab, Aaron Renn undertook a project to create the first ever comprehensive neighborhood map project in Indianapolis. This included creating a top design quality poster of the map, which can be purchased online at Naplab. For more information and background on this project, see the launch announcement.


Walk Indianapolis Architectural Tours

This project, a joint production of Renn along with several local architects and the local tourism agency, created a downtown Indianapolis self-guided architecture walking tour. The tours feature recorded audio by prominent local architects that can be accessed online or by mobile devices, along with a printable map of the route. Future tours are planned in the works. This was an implementation of one of his proposals from a Pecha Kucha presentation called “15 Quick, Easy, and Cheap Ways to Make a Big Urban Design Impact in Indianapolis.”

gzrecover / The gzip Recovery Toolkit

This open source project is the only program available for automated recovery of good data from corrupted gzip files. There’s no guarantee your data will be good, and the tool doesn’t work on all files, but there have been some remarkable results, especially with tarballs. The letters from people whose data has been rescued from oblivion will make you weep. Visit the gzip Recovery Toolkit homepage.

GNU Classpath

Renn co-founded and is the largest contributor of code to this the first open source implementation of the Java standard class library. While the need for this package has been reduced by Sun’s open sourcing of Java, this library is still used by various non-Sun Java environments and is the standard Java library support for the GNU Compiler Collection. Visit the GNU Classpath homepage.

The Urban State of Mind: Meditations on the City is the first Urbanophile e-book, featuring provocative essays on the key issues facing our cities, including innovation, talent attraction and brain drain, global soft power, sustainability, economic development, and localism. Included are 28 carefully curated essays out of nearly 1,200 posts in the first seven years of the Urbanophile, plus 9 original pieces. It's great for anyone who cares about our cities.

Telestrian Data Terminal


A production of the Urbanophile, Telestrian is the fastest, easiest, and best way to access public data about cities and regions, with totally unique features like the ability to create thematic maps with no technical knowledge and easy to use place to place migration data. It's a great way to support the Urbanophile, but more importantly it can save you tons of time and deliver huge value and capabilities to you and your organization.

Try It For 30 Days Free!

About the Urbanophile


Aaron M. Renn is an opinion-leading urban analyst, consultant, speaker, and writer on a mission to help America’s cities thrive and find sustainable success in the 21st century.

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