Innovation News July 2012

MUNICIPAL LEADERSHIP CASE STUDIES
The Leadership Excellence Advancement Pilot Project (LEAPP), conducted by Ontario municipal CAOs and experts, has released the first of a two part series of case studies on the changing nature of leadership responsibilities and current leadership challenges facing the Ontario municipal sector. The case studies, Town of Collingwood and Hastings County, which are based on the latest research and the experience of municipal leaders in Ontario, deal with succession planning, talent management and employee development, will be profiled at an OMKN sponsored workshop at the August 2012 AMO Conference.

D.C. ECO-DISTRICT PLANS UNVEILED
The U.S. National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) has released its long awaited plans for a new Southwest Eco-District to guide redevelopment of the L’Enfant neighbourhood urban renewal projects. The project, which will take 20 to 30 years to implement, will produce high performance buildings and landscapes to house 19,000 federal workers. The new District will capture and reuse water, energy and waste and will remediate the significant lack of public access.

BEST PRACTICES OF THE CITY OF VIENNA
Vienna is the city with the highest number programs worldwide and these have been recognized by UN-HABITAT as good or best practices. The city’s programs range from housing to environmental matters and all of them have been selected because of their participatory structure, sustainability and community impacts and reflect a broad range of expertise gained by local officials and institutions.

THE FUTURE OF U.S. ROUTE 66
U.S. Route 66 stretching from Chicago to Santa Monica, once a popular thoroughfare connecting visitor attractions and robust towns, has been overtaken by the Interstate Highway System, leaving its landmarks largely abandoned. The Center for Creative Land Recycling  has undertaken innovative land use to assist communities to restore blighted sites to productive use.

100 LEADING CITY INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS
A report, Infrastructure 100: World Cities Edition by KPMG, showcases 100 of the most innovative urban infrastructure projects. The examples selected come from all continents and are grouped into ten broad categories. The projects were selected by a panel of people who have built, sponsored or financed large public works projects.

CHICAGO TO EXPAND OUTDOOR PUBLIC SPACE
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently introduced an ordinance that supports the city’s "Make Way for People Program," that has four approaches to expanding pedestrian outdoor space and improve the local economy. Learn more about the initiative and the concepts of "People Spots," "People Plazas," "People Streets" and "People Alleys."

COMMUNITY COLLABORATION
A new report, “Re-thinking Neighbourhood Planning: From consultation to collaboration,” from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and UK think tank ResPublica, responds to a major power shift initiated in the recent enactment of the Localism Act.  The paper discusses the benefits of community collaboration and the value of community-led planning to create partnerships among professionals, developers, local authorities and communities.
 
CALIFORNIA CITIES ON THE FISCAL BRINK 

Cities throughout California, confronting the same financial pressures as the Cities of San Bernadino and Stockton, are slashing local services and undertaking other cost reduction initiatives to avoid financial collapse.  Turning to bankruptcy has become an option for cities where  local revenues are overwhelmed by labour costs and municipal debt.  A recent fiscal report  to the San Bernadino Council showed that the city attempted to manage its finances by relying on its reserves.   
 
SKILLS SEEN AS KEY TO CITY SURVIVAL

A study of UK urban economies since 1901 has found that investment in skills and infrastructure is crucial to the long term survival of post-industrial cities.  The report, City Outlook 1901, from the Centre for Cities, contends that seven out of eight of the best preforming cities today had above average skills in 1901 and that short term cuts in infrastructure and education spending can lead to significantly larger costs over the medium and longer terms.

AGILE CITIES
Metropolis, in partnership with Living Labs Global, the Climate Group, Citymart.com and the Technology Strategy Board is launching the Agile Cities initiative to develop a specific technological platform for the discovery and evaluation of innovations for cities tackling urban challenges.

THE CASE FOR DRIVERLESS TRANSIT SYSTEMS
While European and Asian transit agencies have adopted driverless transit technology, the U.S. and Canada, beyond Vancouver, lack the operation of fully automated train systems. While upgrading to driverless technology requires major upfront investment, the clear advantage is that transit agencies would no longer have to pay drivers.  Money saved can then be redirected to other initiatives to improve transit service.  
  
USING TECHNOLOGY TO PREDICT CRIME
New technology available to cities is enabling more effective law enforcement and emergency response management to improve public safety.  A focus on the “Three I’s,” i.e. instrumentation (increasing communications devices); interconnection (shifting information from point to point); and intelligence (focusing on analytical capacity) in small, medium and large sized cities, can reduce the level of public safety spending and increase the overall level of public safety to attract investment. 

UK COMMISSION ON THE FUTURE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT
The UK Commission on the Future of Local Government , recently released a report after receiving a variety of public submissions from local councils, commissions, businesses and the voluntary sector.  The central objective of the Commission was to identify how local government can take control of local growth and prosperity and assist in meeting the economic, social, environmental and democratic challenges confronting the UK in the 21st century.
 
HOUSING AFFORDABILITY IN VANCOUVER
As part of the Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability, 68 submissions have been made to the city’s ideas competition.  These housing ideas will be voted on by city residents, prior to a jury deciding on preferred designs at the end of July.  Designs were submitted by local architects and from others around the world.  The city’s housing plan is likely to include increased residential density, housing diversity and a new city agency to oversee development.

DEFINING MIXED-USE DEVELOPMENT
While mixed-use has been associated with walkable neighbourhoods, many people think that it relates to a shop front on any street or in any context.  While the term mixed-use has had various meanings over the last few decades, it can be categorized as a) vertical mixed-use buildings; b) horizontal mixed-use blocks; or c) mixed-use walkable neighbourhoods.  Learn more about the elements of mixed-use development.

SUPPORTING INFILL DEVELOPMENT
Infill development typically brings change to a neighbourhood, often viewed suspiciously by current residents.  Many communities have developed transferable approaches to encourage support for infill development by increasing understanding of how it will look in a neighbourhood context, by focusing on the quality of the design and by clear statements of the benefits of infill projects. 
   
THE TOP U.S. CITY PARKS SYSTEMS
ParkScore is a rating system based on more than a year’s data from cities and parks departments across the U.S.  The scores are a composite of five factors:  median park size; acreage as a percentage of city area; percentage of residents living within a ten minute walk of a park; park system spending per resident; and the number of playgrounds per 10,000 residents. The best cities were San Francisco and Sacramento of the forty cites that were ranked.

HANTZ FARMS PLAN NEARS REALITY IN DETROIT
  
After years of discussion, an agreement is in the works to sell vacant city owned land parcels on Detroit’s east side to the Hantz Farms agricultural project.  The lots totaling about 175 acres could be used to grow and harvest timber.  Hantz Farms would clean up the blighted lots, remove waste, cut the grass and plant hardwood trees for future harvesting. The city’s Detroit Works long term planning team is expected to support such reforestation and urban agricultural projects and other nontraditional uses in  a report to the Mayor later this summer.

LINKING SUSTAINABILITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
The U.S. National League of Cities has produced a guide that highlights the sustainability efforts that Denver, Boston, Chattanooga, Tenn. and Grand Rapids, Mich. have developed to spur economic growth.  While these cities have all made commitments to integrating sustainability principles into local economic development activities, their approaches are different.   Learn more  about encouraging green business practices, supporting green energy sectors, quality of life strategies and business attraction through sustainability initiatives.

SOUTHEAST FLORIDA COUNTIES DRAFT 50 YEAR DEVELOPMENT PLAN
The South Florida Regional Planning Council, the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council and a range of urban planners, local officials, the public and interest groups are working collectively to achieve Southeast Florida’s multiple regional development goals . The process, currently in its initial phase, will lead to a plan that addresses common issues and provide for growth through the next 50 years.

THE ONTARIO GREEN POLICY HUB
The Ontario Green Policy Hub (OGPH)  is an initiative of the Greater Toronto Area Chapter of the Canada Green Building Council, as the one-stop, searchable on-line resource for sustainability policies for use by Ontario municipalities.  The GTA Chapter of the Canada Green Building Council is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting knowledge and advancement of green building policies, technologies and community design. 

UK CITIES BENEFIT FROM RADICAL POWER SHIFT
The UK Government has agreed to devolve new powers  to the country’s eight largest cities (Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Manchester) to assist in investing in growth, improving labour skills, supporting local businesses, controlling local budgets and improving infrastructure.   In return, the cities have agreed to adopt stronger, more accountable leadership and to spend more efficiently.

NEW YORK CITY AFFORDABLE HOUSING PLAN
With three years remaining in New York City’s ten year New Marketplace Housing Plan, a new report shows that the plan to create and preserve 165,000 affordable housing units by 2014 remains on target.  While the original objective was to construct the majority of units from scratch, the recession and housing market collapse have led to a new focus on preserving affordable housing units, rather than building new ones.

CHICAGO ASSESSES DOWNTOWN WI-FI PLAN
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has directed city officials to examine the technical and financial impacts of making the entire downtown area wireless. Under the plan, the city’s traffic and street lights would be turned into smart poles, enabling uninterrupted internet access throughout the city centre.  The initiative is one in a series of innovations taken by the Mayor’s administration to secure Chicago’s future as a global megacity.

TRENDS IN RENTING URBAN APARTMENTS
Urban renters, who are for the most part Gen Y-ers or Millennials, are looking at renting accommodation as a long term lifestyle choice and not as a temporary step to buying a property.  Learn more  about how developers are responding to this trend.

STRATFORD, ONTARIO RECOGNIZED AS A TOP WORLD CITY
For the second year in a row, the Intelligent Community Forum has recognized Stratford as one of the top seven cities in the world for social and economic development.  The city operates its own network connecting residents, businesses and public services, the University of Waterloo has opened a satellite campus providing business entrepreneurship and technology instruction and the city has established partnerships with Toshiba, Cisco and Research in Motion.

THE “MANHATTANIZATION” OF TORONTO  
recent CBC news story predicts that condo living in central Toronto will soon become the default option for families, as the supply of detached homes dwindles and the remaining housing stock soars in price.  Real estate experts predict that prices for single detached homes and townhomes will increase thirty to fifty per cent in the next decade.  Condominium prices are expected to increase more moderately.  This trend, typical of other large cities such as Hong Kong, Tokyo, London and Paris, will force families wanting to live in central Toronto to contemplate high density living.

NYC PREDICTIVE DATA ANALYTICS SAVES MONEY AND LIVES 
Local governments are facing increased demand for services in the face of decreasing resources and are relying on quality data and analysis to make better informed decisions.  Shifting government resources to match needs, quickly and accurately, can lead to major positive outcomes for citizens.  According to Mike Flowers of the New York City data analytics team, applying predictive data analytics to discover and act on patterns in databases can lead to “preemptive government.”  

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

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Bruce McLeod
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