Innovation News December 2012

ONLINE PUBLIC PARTICIPATION  
Community economic development experts at Wise Economy have released a white paper that examines leading online public participation tools.  Some of the tools are “off the shelf” while others are customized and the white paper assesses these in order to assist municipalities to decide which meet their needs.     

DENSITY AND TRANSPORTATION
Development density is viewed by some as a solution to transportation issues and a key component of vital communities and by others as a threat to the quality of community life.  Learn more about some recent studies that examine the relationships between land use design and transportation options

CASE STUDIES IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT COLLABORATION  
Local governments across Wisconsin are developing creative ways to work together to deliver better services to taxpayers at lower costs.  A recent publication by the Local Government Institute of Wisconsin contains a set of 85 case studies in 34 areas of municipal service delivery, together with specific documents related to the case studies.

TIPS ON PUBLIC/PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS
A recent Urban Land Institute article highlights some U.S. local government examples of public/ private partnerships (P3s) and discusses some key factors for success.

CITIES TO PILOT GLOBAL URBAN SOLUTIONS

In late November, twenty-one global cities and Citymart.com announced the LLGA/Cities Pilot the Future Program http://www.themobilecity.nl/2012/12/11/call-llgacities-pilot-the-future-program21-global-cities-call-for-solutions/, to identify and implement the most promising solutions that meet major urban challenges. Through the coming 18 months, submissions on the actual implementation of pilot projects from around the world will be evaluated on their effectiveness in improving urban quality of life.   

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

NORTH AMERICA’S SMARTEST CITIES
Co.Exist:  World Changing Ideas and innovation, has added to its ranking of European Smart Cities published a few weeks ago, by releasing rankings of North American cities that foster innovative business and science developments.  The rankings are based on a device called the Smart Cities Wheel, which contains key components and drivers of smart cities.   

GRADING CITY PERFORMANCE
Washington, D.C. has used social media tools in order to grade the performance of city departments on a monthly basis.  The city has entered into a three year contract with a private company to assess reviews of community blogs and Facebook and Twitter accounts at Grade.D.C.Gov,  to evaluate agency performance.

PHILADELPHIA CREATES OFFICE OF NEW URBAN MECHANICS   
The City of Philadelphia has followed Boston’s lead by creating the Office of New Urban Mechanics.  The agency is intended to serve as an innovation hub, connecting government with the public to develop projects that solve civic problems.      

LESSONS FROM NANTES, 2013 EUROPEAN GREEN CAPITAL
The City of Nantes, France has been designated by the European Union as its 2013 “Green Capital.”  The award recognizes the city’s leading efforts related to the adoption of a climate action plan, modernization of its transit and water systems and its focus on biodiversity.      
 

FIVE REASONS FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA  
While effective use of social media by local governments requires significant thought and planning to manage risks related to social media use, there are compelling reasons why municipalities should be using social media for civic engagement.   

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

HOW SAN JOSE FIXED ITS PENSION SYSTEM
The City of San Jose, California, has struggled with chronic fiscal challenges, resulting in a workforce reduction of more than 2,000 of its 7,000 employees and major service cuts.  The largest of the city’s fiscal challenges was the growing annual pension fund contributions, with costs expected to reach $319 million or 24% of the general fund by 2014/15.  Learn more  about the city’s pension reform efforts.  

SOME TECHNOLOGY PREDICTIONS FOR THE NEXT FIVE YEARS      
IBM recently released its annual predictions regarding security, mobility and energy changes that it contends will result in technological innovations that will alter peoples’ daily lives. 

FRESNO’S DOWNTOWN REVITALIZATION 
The Fresno County Council of Governments is considering the adoption of a Sustainable Communities Strategy.  Two key elements of the strategy are Fresno’s Downtown Plans and Code Project and the High-Speed Rail (HSR) Station Area Master Plan.

URBAN AGE CONFERENCE  
The recent Urban Age Conference, held in London, U.K., focused on the concept of the Electric City. The Conference featured a two day discussion with urban thinkers, academics, practitioners and politicians to explore how technology can be applied to a range of urban challenges.  Visit the “Future Cape Town ,” website for more information on innovative ways to address urban challenges.    

HALIFAX’S DENSITY BONUSING 
The Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) is considering an amendment to its HRM Charter to expand the use of density bonusing from the Halifax downtown area to the entire municipality.  Learn more about how this planning tool operates.  

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

HOW TECHNOLOGY ENABLES CITY INNOVATION
Taxpayer expectations of city governments are being driven by urban demographics, including younger and older residents who are seeking both low and high technology solutions for service delivery. To meet these expectations it is necessary to make critical information available to citizens through age- friendly websites and the adoption of social media tools that can improve citizen engagement.

WHY DENSER CITIES ARE MORE PRODUCTIVE
A recent study published in the Journal of Regional Science, provides evidence of relationships between density, human capital and urban productivity. The study applied statistical models to assess specific effects of density and human capital in over 350 U.S. metropolitan areas.

THE EFFECTIVENESS OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT INCENTIVES
The New York Times has published a series of articles on state and local incentives for businesses. While the research found that U.S. states, cities and counties provide some $80 billion annually in expenditures and tax abatement, there is no association between economic development incentives and measures of economic performance.

INSPIRING GLOBAL CITIES
Over the next two weeks The Atlantic Cities will profile cities that provide leading models for sustainable growth, in order to address local and global challenges.

NEW APPROACHES TO TRANSIT IN MIDSIZE CITIES
A new report, “Midsize Cities on the Move,” examines investment in transit systems in cities in the 50,000 to 250,000 population range. The study assesses the success of these systems, challenges in addressing mobility needs and “next generation” transit in midsize cities, with a specific focus on leading practices in transit planning and funding strategies.

STREET DESIGN HANDBOOK
The U.S. National Organization of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), recently released the “Urban Street Design Handbook” as a new resource for local governments.  The guide assesses design principles and strategies that cities are adapting based on international best practices.  

AN APPROACH TO MAKING DOWNTOWNS GREENER
The “Biodiversity Green Wall ,” a project designed by the University of Washington landscape architecture faculty, is intended as a billboard for new sustainable practices to promote biodiversity, produce food and reduce energy use.  

SAN FRANCISCO AFFORDABLE HOUSING POLICY BEST PRACTICE   
A new study, “From Urban Renewal and Displacement to Economic Inclusion,” outlines how the City of San Francisco developed a program that provides low income residents with access to affordable housing.  The city’s strategy, which has been in place from 1978 to the present, is based on advocacy and community coalitions, fixed funding sources, housing programs that adjust to market variations and  a focus on inclusive communities.   

TRANSFORMING WATERFRONTS
The “Project for Public Spaces” has assessed the experience of cities from around the world in in improving urban waterfronts, to present a framework of ideas that guides waterfront projects in creating vibrant urban spaces.  

SASKATCHEWAN  LEVERAGED MUNICIPAL INNOVATION FUND
Saskatchewan’s Communities of Tomorrow (CT) Leveraged Municipal Innovation Fund (LMIF)  project has produced reports that explain some of the challenges and leading practices in a number of infrastructure policy areas.  These initiatives improve infrastructure and enhance value to taxpayers.      

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

RANKING “GREEN” CITIES
There is a range of “most green city” and “most livable city” lists;  however, it is not always clear what the methods are or that the criteria that determine rankings are complete.   Learn more about some recommendations for attributes to be included to improve the assessments of green cities.   

KEY STEPS TO CREATING URBAN WALKABILITY  
Jeff Speck’s new book, “The Walkable City,” suggests ten steps to creating urban walkability. These are focused on his own perspectives and values on walking versus driving.  A recent article by Kaid Benfield in “Switchboard” (NRDC) reviews  Speck’s book and offers additional insights on his views. 

THE ROLE OF DENSITY IN  CITY CORES
Some recent U.S. census data enables a measure of density based on the actual distribution of people within and across  cities and metro areas. This measure, “population-weighted density” is based on the average density of small local areas that make up metropolitan areas.  The Census Bureau also measures the density of cities and metros at one mile and five mile radii from the city centre.  A recent analysis shows how different types of density are linked to regional economic and social outcomes.

CITIES AND THE MILLENNIAL GENERATION
The sustainability of urban cores has in large measure been a function of success in attracting and retaining young professionals  who have supported the boom in downtown condominium construction  and entertainment and other facilities which became part of the city core adult focused  lifestyle.  As the oldest of the Millennial generation mature, cities are beginning to recognize the need to adjust to their demands  for new family  housing options, improved transit, quality schools and more open space, to retain this generation. 

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

GLOBAL METROS
Some recent reports from the Brookings Institution examine the 2012 economic growth experiences of the world’s largest metropolitan economies and the importance of their investment and trade relationships.

DEFINING “URBANISMS”
What do the terms “New Urbanism,” “Landscape Urbanism” and “Eco-Urbanism” mean?  Do they refer to new concepts?  While each of these “isms” shares the objective of livable urban environments, learn more about their specific objectives and how they relate.

EPA RECOGNIZES SMART GROWTH ACHIEVEMENT
In late November, the  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized seven communities with the 2012 Award for Smart Growth Achievement.  The awards are conferred in four categories:  Overall Excellence in Smart Growth;  Equitable Development; Main Street/Corridor Revitalization; and Programs and Policies.

IDEAS FROM BARCELONA
The City of Barcelona recently hosted the second Global Smart City Expo/Congress, where the focus was on the application of a range of urban technologies. The event was attended by Brent Toderian (The Atlantic Cities)  who reports why Barcelona continues to stand as one of the best model cities in the world .

OTTAWA’S NEW WEBSITE MEETS RESIDENTS’ SPECIFIC NEEDS
The City of Ottawa’s redesigned website will enable residents and businesses to interact with the city through its responsiveness to mobile devices, greater functionality and new search categories that enable residents in a wide range of demographic and other categories to  navigate more easily online.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

Contact

Bruce McLeod
OMKN Coordinator

T 416.971.9856 ext. 350
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