Design & Innovation Solutions for a Complex World


Mitch finds liminal, in-between spaces that many people have not seen or considered. Then, by finding possible intersections between needs and solutions, and forming new connections, he creates new opportunities

— -David Gray, Liminal Thinking 2016
“Diane Davis, Stephen Graham, Jo Beall, Mitchell Sipus, Saskia Sassen, and Mike Davis, among many others, have added immensely to our understanding of development and conflict in connected cities
— - David Kilcullen, Out of the Mountains 2013

Mitchell is a design, planning, and innovation specialist for organizations and cities of global impact.  He regularly assists governments and large corporations.

Within the last 15 years, Mitchell has lead strategic change to impact millions of people, in over 12 nations including Afghanistan and Somalia.

Today Mitchell is focused on the application of human centered design to artificial intelligence and robotics to benefit large organizations and cities.

Current : The US Department of State
Previous : The White House
History (Selected): Carnegie Mellon University, City of Mogadishu, City of Kabul, 


Full Bio
Radical Transformation by Design for Complex Socio-Technical and Geo-Political Problems 
Mitchell’s work has improved living conditions in refugee camps, reduced poverty in urban slums, and transformed conflict cities. Presently Mitchell works for President Obama as a White House Presidential Innovation Fellow, supplying much needed changes to entrenched and complex government problems. These works have included service design for Veterans Affairs, and Enterprise Architecture and Software Design, for the Environmental Protection Agency.  His primary focus is to improve government transparency by working with the National Security Council, to deepen and broadly scale the  President Obama's first executive memorandum from January 21, 2009 on countering the culture of over-classification.  Via the design and deployment of machine assisted declassificaiton processes, this work work will impact the declassification of billions of records with the conclusion of the Obama administration.

While pursuing doctoral research at Carnegie Mellon University in 2015, he cofounded the company Symkala, which applies breakthrough robotics technologies to unstructured dark data, driving a new direction in geospatial information systems (GIS).

From 2006-2013, he built the technical consultancy Sutika Sipus to provide international agencies throughout Africa, Middle East, and Afghanistan with new capabilities for urban research and computational analysis to guide strategic interventions.

From 2011-14 he advised the government of Somalia on conflict stabilization and urban reconstruction and pioneered the design of local informatics for the improved security and economic development of Mogadishu. He continues to provide innovation consulting services to governments, multilateral organizations, INGOs, NGOs, and global corporations.

You can also find Mitchell's work in publications by the American Planning Association, the Urban Land Institute, and NASA on the integration of UAVs and autonomous cars in cities. His work is regularly featured in a variety of outlets including WIRED, Popular Science, and Gizmodo and he has spoken widely  at venues including MIT MediaLab, Harvard Center for Geographic Analysis, Columbia Earth Institute, George Washington University, the American Geography Society, and at Oxford University. 

External References

2016, September 14. Gray, David. Liminal Thinking: Create the change you want by changing the way you think.

2016, July. "Using computational modeling to examine shifts towards extremist behaviors in European Diaspora Communities," Advances in Cross-Cultural Decision Making (480): Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, 331-332

2016. Rule, Troy. "Drone Zoning," North Carolina Law Review 96

2016, April 15. Jenson, Ole B., "Drone city - power, design and aerial mobility in the age of 'smart cities," Geographica Helvetica

2016, February 15. Widener, Michael N., "Local Regulating of Drone Activity in Lower Airspace," Boston University Journal of Science and Technology (22)

2016, Herring, Christopher. "Sheltering those in need: architects confront homelessness," 18th Annual Berkeley Undergraduate prize for architectural design excellence.

2015. Smit, Anneke. "Property Rights and Public Interests: Restitution, Transitional Justice, and Post-Conflict Reconciliation," in Implications for Research, Policy, and Practice at the Intersection of Forced Migration, Transitional Justice, and Reconciliation, ed M. Bradley, McGill-Queens Press.

2015. Jenkins, Nathan
. "An application of aerial drones in zoning and urban land use planning in Canada: A preliminary review of current policies, restrictions and planning direction for aerial drones in Canadian cities," MCP Thesis, Ryerson University

2015, October 15. Voigt, Robert. "Drone's Eye View," Planning: The Magazine of the American Planning Association,

2015, October 15.. Kiger, Patrick J., "Imagining the Driverless City," Urban Land, The Magazine of The Urban Land Institute.

2015, July 22. Haubry, Claire. "Robots: Sepro s'appui sur les USA pou innover," Ouest France,

2015, June 12. Simon, Mathilde. "The April 2015 Attack in Garissa by al Shabaab." Foreign Policy Journal.

2015, January 1. Rawn, Evan. "The three-dimensional city: How drones will impact the future urban landscape." ArchDaily.

2015. I Limo, W Mona, "Challenges of Relationships and Social Identities: The paradox of the consequences of Kenya's military intervention in Somalia," in The New African Civil-Military Relations, ed. Limo, Irene, and Williams Muna APRI: Pretoria. 

2014, August 22. Kastrenakes, Jacob. "This is what the future of a drone-filled America could look like: Could drone zoning laws keep pilots in check?" The Verge,

2014. Shay, Shawn. Somalia in Transition Since 2006. Transaction Publishers, New Jersey. 

2014, August 22. Zhang, Sarah. "Should Cities have Zoning for Drones?," Gizmodo

2014, August 22. Atherton, Kelsey D. "The Future of Urban Planning: Zoning for Drones," Popular Science Magazine

2013. Kilcullen, David. Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerilla, Oxford University Press.

2013, October 20. Cane, Philip and SimonSchofield. "Al Shabaab: the rise and fall from Black Hawk Down to Westgate and beyond," Humanitarian Intervention Centre, London.

2013, June 11. Campbell, John. "Mapping Mogadishu and the Problem of Warlord Politicians," Council of Foreign Relations

2013, June 1. Rogers, Adam. "Life after warfare: How a digital map could help revive Mogadishu." Wired Magazine.

2011. Kisiangani, Emmanuel. "Comparing Somalia's al-Shabaab and Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army," Institute for Security Studies Papers 229