Innovation News September 2012

VISION LOUISVILLE PLANNING INITIATIVE
Louisville city planning officials are collecting the best ideas on how the city should develop through the next 25 years. The million dollar Vision Louisville initiative is a collaborative effort between Louisville residents and the Norwegian planning consultant Space Group. Once they are generated, planners will classify ideas as short, medium and long term projects that relate to livability, sustainability and connectivity.

MASTER PLANNING AND TEMPORARY URBANISM
Tactical and temporary urbanism are seen as small scale urban interventions, often in spaces expected to become parks, plazas or streets. However, while the uncertain economy has stalled or delayed large scale urban developments, some City of London communities have found that small scale and flexible interim land uses can provide opportunities and useful activities, until larger scale developments become feasible.

TOP MUNICIPAL PERFORMANCE MEASURES TO CONSIDER
The Minnesota Legislature established the Council on Local Results and Innovation, which has released a set of ten “performance measures“ for cities and counties, that demonstrate how effectively services are provided to local residents.

ASSESSING LEED REGISTERED NEIGHBOURHOODS
Some good examples of adaptive use and redevelopment activity have emerged in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) registered neighbourhoods across the U.S. A common feature of these projects is the transformation of blighted properties into functional homes and non-residential spaces, including significant sustainability elements.

WALK SCORE GOES INTERACTIVE
A new generation of Walk Score, the popular internet app, was launched this week. The latest version will allow users to share information on neighbourhood highlights, walkability issues such as crime occurrences or dangerous intersections, crowd-sourced tours and pictures and comments on new places and experiences.

WALKABLE URBANISM
Real Estate developer and George Washington University professor Christopher Leinberger argues that walkable urbanism  is becoming the real estate market. In his new research, Leinberger identifies 43 distinct neighbourhoods in Washington, D.C. which are “regionally significant walkable urban places,” i.e. which help drive metropolitan economies. These urban places are seen as being critical to the future urban residential, office retail and entertainment development.

REDMOND, WASHINGTON LAUNCHES ELECTRONIC ZONING CODE
The City of Redmond, Washington has launched a new, enhanced interactive Electronic Zoning code or EZ-Code. The EZ-Code and Property Viewer simplify research on specific zones, properties or uses through integration with the city’s GIS maps and data. The new product reflects the city’s commitment to customer service and innovation.

THE RISE OF TELEWORKING
Teleworking or telecommuting has become a global trend following a 2002 European Union shared framework agreement which regulates teleworker rights and issues, the American Telework Act of 2010 and pilot telecommuting programs in China. Learn more about some telework trends, efficiency gains and impacts on the geography of cities.

NEW HONDURAS CITY TO HAVE MINIMAL TAXES, GOVERNMENT
The Honduras government has agreed to let an investment group build an experimental city with no taxes on income, capital gains or sales. The local government will be based on secure property rights and minimal government interference, with the only tax being on property.

CALIFORNIA PLANS FOR GROWTH IN A CLEAN ENVIRONMENT
A new report called “Bold Plans for California Communities,” documents progress made through the last four years in California through state legislative direction to its metropolitan planning organizations, in coordinating transportation investment, land use and housing to provide for efficient growth with minimal environmental impact. The legislation, Senate Bill 375 or “SB 375,” enables each metropolitan region to create its own policies and strategies to achieve targets. The report finds that the Sacramento Region strategy is the best to date of the 18 metro regions that must comply with SB 375.

“13 WAYS TO KILL A COMMUNITY”
This is a book written for small town residents who want to make a difference in their communities. The book’s author, Doug Griffiths, a Member of the Legislative Assembly in Alberta, travelled throughout the rural areas of the province to create a rural development strategy. The book describes the power inherent in small communities to control their future.

CITY WIDE INDOOR NAVIGATION
Seoul, South Korea, recognized as a leader in speedy broadband, is about to introduce a free mobile phone application that can navigate the city both above and below street level. The app called Fing, could set a new standard for navigation guides.

MARKET-BASED PARKING COMES TO NEW ZEALAND
Until recently, San Francisco was the only city that pursued major parking reforms recognizing that time limits were an inefficient way of managing demand, especially in areas where pay parking is applied. San Francisco has now removed parking time limits and relies solely on prices to manage demand. Now Auckland, New Zealand has followed suit, but with some tweaks on the San Francisco model.

LONDON ONTARIO SENIOR SATELLITE LOCATIONS
The City of London recently opened the city’s first Seniors’ Centre satellite location, as part of a three year strategic plan to move to a “hub and satellite” model of service delivery  for older adults. While current facilities will be the “hubs,” providing programs for daily activities, special events, food services and day trips, partnerships will be developed with existing organizations to form satellites to provide services and programs for adults over 55 at neighbourhood locations across the city.

TORONTO AND CHICAGO STRENGTHEN SISTER CITY AGREEMENT
Chicago Mayor Emanuel and City of Toronto Mayor Ford recently renewed and expanded the 1991 their sister city agreement. Efforts will now be directed beyond various exchanges related to the arts, culture, education and technology to strengthen business-oriented partnerships.

LOS ANGELES SHIFTS TRANSPORTATION FOCUS TO MASS TRANSIT
A convergence of factors including a heightened sense of environmental sustainability, a visionary Mayor and a ballot measure that raised sales taxes to create a dedicated funding stream for transit expansion, has led to a shift in focus to new transit infrastructure  and an increase in the share of the LA metropolitan area population that depends on mass transit. This trend is being complemented by plans to increase densities and reduce parking spaces in new developments.

DETROIT LAUNCHES NEW DATA TOOL FOR SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES
Data Driven Detroit (D3) has announced a new land parcel tool to support planning and development in city neighbourhoods. The tool provides an interactive map that combines multiple public data sources in one interface, reducing the time required to research parcel level information.

CHICAGO UNVEILS FIRST PEDESTRIAN SAFETY PLAN
The City of Chicago Department of Transportation’s first pedestrian plan contains more than 250 recommendations for long-term and short-term improvements, some of which have been undertaken during the 2012 road construction season. Priorities include improving safety for children and seniors near schools and parks, improving access to transit, safe crossings at intersections and increasing space for pedestrians.

A UNIQUE APPROACH TO MIXED USE DESIGN
French architect, Christian de Portzamparc, who is known for his bold designs, has created a new approach to mixed-use development. His design focuses on pedestrians and their relationships to surrounding built form and includes rooftops which provide a variety of housing forms with their own amenity spaces.

CODE FOR AMERICA
The Code for America Commons is a marketplace for open innovation in local government, tracking 643 IT applications in 253 world cities. Learn more about the most active applications and those that are trending.

THE ECONOMIC VALUE OF WALKABLITY
Mariela Alfonzo, an adjunct professor at NYU-Poly and consultant, has conducted research on what makes places walkable and concludes that it is necessary to make a case for the economic value of walkability. Alfonzo was part of a team that has worked on creating the Irvine Minnesota Inventory (IMI) to define and measure 160 factors that contribute to pedestrian experiences and she has incorporated the IMI into an algorithm called the State of Place Index that links walkability to economic performance.

NEW “CITIES AS A LAB” INITIATIVE
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is developing the new “Cities as a Lab” initiative that it plans to launch in 2013. The project seeks to use research, case studies and partnerships to demonstrate the importance of urban areas and the incorporation of technological solutions in urban design. Initiatives assessed will include Boston’s Innovation District, Chicago’s Innovation Fund, EcoDistricts in Portland and Living City Blocks in Denver and New York City.

HOW NATIONAL GOVERNMENTS DEAL WITH URBAN CHANGE
Cities and metropolitan areas, as major population centres and hubs of cultural identity and innovation, are generally viewed as being essential to national success. While there have been important reforms in the governance of major cities, the majority of cities still depend on the policies and resources of senior governments for their operating frameworks. Learn more about some changes in national policies relating to cities over the last twenty years.

URBAN BIKEWAY DESIGN
The U.S. National Association of Transportation Officials has released a second edition of its Urban Bikeway Design Guide, which provides a comprehensive overview of the most recent developments in bicycle infrastructure, to inform state and national policy.

TRANSFORMING YOUR CITY
IBM has a number of years of experience in assisting cities around the world to improve service delivery.  A paper published by IBM, “How to Transform a City:  Lessons from the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge,” provides 15 lessons for local government leaders on how to transform operations.

PROFESSIONAL SPORTS HELP GREEN CITIES
The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report, “Game Changer:  How the Sports Industry is Saving the Environment,” outlines the overall impact of a range of innovative and cost-effective measures being taken by professional sports leagues to go green.  Learn more  about some sustainability efforts regarding energy, water and waste.   

STEPS TO A SMARTER CITY
Cities around the world, supported by programs such as the UK Technology Strategy Board’s Future Cities Demonstrator Competition, the European Union continuing investment project and various local Smart City commissions, are making progress in applying information and communications technologies for more efficient use of resources and cost savings, improved service delivery and to achieve greater energy savings and sustainability.

TEN TRANSPORATION ENGINEERING MYTHS
View this recent presentation to Los Angeles Department of Transportation, by Sam Schwartz Engineering, on some misconceptions about parkway development, adding highway capacity and bus transportation and how to develop world class streets. 

NEW ONTARIO MUNICIPAL RESOURCE DIRECTORY
The Leadership Excellence Advancement Pilot Project (LEAPP) has developed a Municipal Resource Directory (MRD) which consolidates a variety of municipally-targeted programs and services in Ontario, in a single document. The document is a key information tool for municipal CAOs and City Managers and other municipal leaders throughout the province.

THE RISE OF SMALL DOWNTOWN AMERICA
While many U.S. small downtown areas fell victim to the interstate highway system, changes in local demographics and lifestyles and the decline of local industries and natural resources, attention is now turning to approaches to recapturing the value of infrastructure investment, historical buildings and the cultural connections that these communities often possess.  Learn more about what small towns can do to leverage these assets in renewing investment.

QUALITY OF LIFE LESSONS FROM EUROPE
Freiburg, Germany, with a population of 240,000, has been recognized for its high quality of life, demonstrated by low levels of congestion and pollution, integrated public transit, renewable energy initiatives and success in job creation.  In terms of quality of life, UK cities on the other hand, generally underperform relative to counter parts in Germany, Denmark, Switzerland and Austria.  In a recent Guardian Professional article, John Whitelegg examines why.    

CONTRASTING APPROACHES TO HIGH-SPEED RAIL
While California’s ambitious high-speed rail project relies largely on Federal Government funding, a new private sector proposal  to operate a bullet train between Houston and the Dallas-Fort-Worth area by 2021, will not depend on government funds. 

WHAT HAPPENED TO CHINA’S SUBWAY BOOM?
China’s subway development began in earnest when it was awarded the 2008 Summer Olympics.  By 2008, Beijing had built five new lines and in the post-Olympics period, another eight lines have become operational. Twelve new lines are scheduled to open in the city by 2012 and smaller Chinese cities have been following suit, albeit on a lesser scale.  Learn why China’s subways are now insolvent.  

BOOMERS RESHAPE ARLINGTON COUNTY, VA.
As the population of Arlington County, Virginia ages and young professionals move their parents to the community, this urbanized area just outside Washington, D.C. has pursued a plan to provide for its aging population. By 2030, the county’s over-65 population is expected to double and the over-85 group is projected to triple. Learn more about the county’s walkability, transit, parks and recreation and zoning initiatives.

URBAN TRANSFORMATION IN ISTANBUL
A new approach to construction called the 3blocks1block regeneration model, is being developed in Istanbul. Development bonuses encourage formerly separate blocks to be merged to enable greater design potential, increased capacity for green space and public buildings and transportation improvements.

STUDY CLAIMS RETROFITS GREENER THAN NEW CONSTRUCTION
A report prepared by the Preservation Green Lab (National Trust for Historic Preservation) compares the environmental impact of retrofitting an existing building for high performance to tearing down and replacing the building with a high performance one. The report demonstrates that reuse, even without energy performance improvements, almost always outperforms new construction.

DEFINING GREAT STREETS
A recent Atlantic Cities article, previews a new book being written by urban planners Victor Dover and John Massengale, on the importance of streets to communities and the characteristics of great streets. The article captures some examples of desirable street design and amenities.

THE IMPACTS OF MILLENNIALS’ PERSPECTIVES
Millennials, the largest generation in our history, face a convergence of economic and social factors from high gas prices, re-urbanization, stagnating wages, to new technologies enabling different kinds of consumption, that will affect the level and type of spending of this generation.  While new cars and suburban houses have driven earlier economic recoveries, millennials have lost interest in both.  Learn more  about the perspectives of Millennials and some key impacts.

TWELVE STEPS TO GREAT PUBLIC SPACES
The impacts of car use, suburban residential growth with large lots, the advent of shopping malls and the transformative impacts of televisions and computers are some of the factors that have driven people from public spaces.   However, experience has shown in places like Copenhagen, Barcelona and Portland, that when specific steps are followed to provide good public space, people will gather for a range of interactions, from commerce to celebrations to community activities.

THE BENEFITS OF URBAN TREES 
There are numerous benefits of urban trees, including cooling effects, carbon dioxide absorption, particulate reduction and oxygen production, as well as aesthetic and social value. A recent Natural Resources Defense Council article by Kaid Benfield  outlines initiatives in San Diego and the District of Columbia that track performance measure of urban forests.

CIVIC CROWDFUNDING
Crowdfunding refers to the collective efforts of individuals who network and pool their resources to support community activities, start-ups and civic improvement projects.  By connecting project proponents with potential resources to supplement other funding available through local taxes, crowdfunding enables greater citizen input and decision making to develop projects beyond local government priorities.

GUANGZHOU, CHINA LIMITS NEW CARS
The municipality of Guangzhou, China, one of the country’s a largest auto manufacturing centres, has introduced license plate auctions and lotteries to reduce the number of cars on it streets.  This initiative in China’s third largest city is the most restrictive of efforts by large Chinese cities to improve air quality and reduce health costs.

HOW SOCIAL MEDIA TRANSFORMED REGINA
Through the past three years, the City of Regina, Saskatchewan has built the largest Facebook following of any city in Canada and the city’s Twitter account ranks in the top five city accounts.       

THREE IMPORTANT LOCAL GOVERNMENT WEB SEARCH TOOLS
The Municipal Research and Services Centre of Washington (MRSC) and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) website search tools are often more effective than general Internet searches. These tools enable searches on specific local government issues throughout the U.S. and also allow searches by municipal codes. 


EUROPEAN CITIES SEEK CORPORATE SPONSORS FOR HISTORICAL SITES
The European financial crisis has forced all levels of government to slash spending to reduce debt, leaving local governments scrambling for ways to preserve disintegrating historic and cultural sites.  Initiatives to find additional restoration funds include hanging ads, selling usage rights and even putting structures on the market.  

NEW JERSEY ISSUES 2012 MUNICIPAL BEST PRACTICES INVENTORY
The State of New Jersey recently released the 2012 Best Practices Inventory  for the state’s 565 municipalities to ensure more efficient, transparent and responsible use of taxpayer dollars by local governments.  The Inventory contains a mix of new and repeat questions which are designed to encourage local governments to budget within their means and eliminate waste, abuse and fraud.  

IBM SUPPORTS TECHNOLOGY FOR CRIME PREVENTION AND INVESTIGATION
In a recent video, leaders from IBM and the Center for Community Criminology and Research discuss how technology assists in crime 

Contact

Bruce McLeod
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