Innovation News April 2013

BUDGETING FOR MUNICIPAL INFRASTRUCTURE COSTS
The costs of infrastructure assets include construction costs, future renovation costs and facility operating and maintenance costs; however, municipal budgeting processes often do not adequately provide for these post construction costs.  The “Utah model” sets aside 1.1 per cent of the value of an asset expressly for maintaining and repairing capital assets.  This fixed asset life cycle maintenance approach is contained in legislation that assures maintenance funding for the state’s public buildings.

UK COUNCIL PEER CHALLENGE PROCESS
The United Kingdom peer challenge process is part of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) program to support improvement and self-regulation for councils following Audit Commission inspections.  Peer teams composed of local government officers, council members and partner organizations reflect both the specific requirements and a predetermined focus of a council being assessed.  

CITY CONGESTION INDEX  
TomTom Research recently announced the results of its 2012 Congestion Index, which measures traffic congestion in 161 cities across five continents, including 59 metropolitan areas (population greater than 800,000) across North America. Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto are the most congested cities in Canada.  
 
WATER SENSITIVE PLANNING DESIGN 
Successive years of flooding, drought and watercourse pollution threaten both regional populations and economic interests and these events are prompting both Australian and UK government agencies  to give much greater priority to including water management in the initial stages of the planning and design process.  The focus is on water less as a risk or nuisance, and more on water as both and asset and opportunity.   

GREENING RIO’S PORT
Rio de Janeiro’s, working port and waterfront are being transformed into the Porto Maravilha which has the potential to become a model for other port cities in greening urban port areas.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS CHICAGO APA NATIONAL CONFERENCE
At last week’s American Planning Association National Conference in Chicago, a key theme was the promotion of job growth and economic development.  Learn more about some approaches to financing economic development, investing in infrastructure and reinventing vacant properties.   

BUSINESS ATTRACTION TOOLKIT FOR BC COMMUNITIES
A Business Attraction Toolkit for BC Communities  developed by the British Columbia Government provides resources to assist municipalities through specific stages of business attraction and to focus on specific needs of existing businesses.   

STOCKHOLM’S METRO SYSTEM
Not only is the City of Stockholm Metro 100 station system an important component to the city’s focus on transit oriented development, it is also houses a broad range of art including sculptures, mosaics, paintings and reliefs  by more than 150 artists in 90 of the system’s stations. 

HIGH-TECH INNOVATION CITIES
Most associate high-tech innovation and startups with places like San Francisco, New York, London or Tel Aviv; however, cloud based resources and new telecommunications tools are leading to more widespread technological concentrations.

AIA TOP TEN GREEN PROJECTS                                 .    
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) recently announced the 2013 winners of the “Top Ten Plus” awards for those projects that showcase both good design and green performance leading to ultra-low energy consumption.     

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS   EXAMPLES OF SMART URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE
The United Nations has recently issued a report  on the need for developing sustainable urban infrastructure. The report includes detailed descriptions of 30 projects from around the world that can serve as models with specific innovations for other cities to consider.  

SURREY PLAN TO ENHANCE LOCAL FOOD
The Surrey Agriculture Protection and Enhancement Strategy has been designed to  coordinate actions that enhance and sustain the local agricultural industry. The strategy focuses on five key priorities including the land base, innovation, infrastructure, agri-urban connections, sustainability and resiliency. 

NEW NOVA SCOTIA  SUSTAINABILITY PLAN GUIDE 
The Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities (UNSM) Municipal Sustainability Office has launched a new guidebook, From Great Ideas to Great Communities, to assist municipalities to implement community sustainability actions.  The guide is  the first of its kind in Canada. 

PERSPECTIVES ON SMARTER GROWTH
Smart growth, new urbanism, densification and transit oriented development are concepts that can generate local backlashes in their application in planning processes.  Learn more about some advice on greater respect for neighbourhood planning, character and scale.  
  

COMMISSIONING BETTER PUBLIC SERVICES  
A report by the UK Local Government Association, “Commissioning for better public services,” recognizes that both taxpayer demands for better services  and traditional models of service delivery which are no longer affordable, are presenting unique challenges to local councils.  This report provides guidance on transformational change  and redesign of service delivery.  

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS MAPPING QUALITY OF LIFE
A new study published on the website Geospatial World, assesses the geography of data sets for twelve quality of life indicators to map areal distribution of overall quality of life in a section of Benin City in Nigeria. While the approach is designed to assist policy makers to resolve local community issues, it may well have application more broadly in relating sustainability indicators and quality of life.    
  
PERSPECTIVES ON MANAGING CITY CRISES  
In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, cities will be reassessing ways to balance new security limitations with the need to maintain an open society.  A recent article published by Next City, focuses on the value of planning for a good emergency response while an Atlantic Cities article credits Boston’s citywide disaster simulations for the high level of emergency response and the preparation of city residents.

CREATING REGIONAL INNOVATION
Establishing and embedding a “quad,” or a tightly linked collaboration between businesses, government, civil society and academia within social institutions and networks, is seen as essential to generating continuous innovation.  Learn  more about the roles that the “quad” plays in establishing cross-sector networks, reforming organizational management and in talent investment.  

TORONTO’S WALKABILITY ANALYZED
Walkonomics has recently released a walkability analysis for the City of Toronto, that examines 42,000 street segments based on factors such as traffic levels, pedestrian collisions and crime statistics, to highlight the best places to walk in the city.  

THE GREAT RECESSION AND U.S. METRO EMPLOYMENT
The Brookings Institution has released an analysis of the location of private sector employment within 35 miles of a downtown in the largest 100 metropolitan areas, from 2007 to 2010.  The analysis finds that recession employment losses stalled the trend to decentralization of jobs in the construction and manufacturing industries that were hardest hit by  the recession.    

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS    MARYLAND CENTRE FOR TOWNS
In 2011, The Center for Towns was created by the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy to support Maryland communities east of Chesapeake Bay.  Learn more about the Centre’s mission to maintain the region’s 300 year old communities, farmlands and wetlands.     

LAVASA, INDIA’S PRIVATE CITY
A number of private cities are emerging across India.  An example is Lavasa (between Mumbai and Pune), which has no democratic electoral process, instead being governed by a private enterprise, Lavasa Corporation Limited (LCL).  One perspective supports the view of Lavasa as a planned city that can act as an engine of growth.  Others are critical of its development processes, which they contend breached environmental laws.  

CHICAGO’S NEW “SKY PARK”
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has pledged to create 800 new parks, recreation sites and green spaces across the city over the next five years.  A the core of these efforts is the Bloomingdale Trail and the Burnham Wildlife Corridor, a 2.7 mile elevated “sky park” that will replace an abandoned rail line in northwest Chicago. The trail will link to a series of ground level parks to enable bicycle and pedestrian access

NEW TORONTO REGION BOARD OF TRADE REPORT
The Toronto Region Board of Trade has released “Scoreboard on Prosperity 2013  ” which focuses on key components of the region’s productivity and competitiveness and ranks the Toronto Region against other North American city-regions.  Ranking sixth overall, the Toronto region is in the top quarter of the 24 benchmarked metropolitan areas. 

CONVERTING SHOPPING MALLS TO TOWN CENTRES 
Across North America suburban shopping malls are struggling and while some mall locations are being abandoned, others are being transformed  to offer a range of places to work, shop and eat, with an emphasis on walkability and improved transit access.  

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS AUSTIN SET FOR NEXT GOOGLE FIBER LAUNCH  
In 2010, Google selected Kansas City (on both sides of the Kansas-Missouri state line) for its first  test of Google Fiber. The Kansas Cities featured local governments willing to use infrastructure to deploy Fiber service and a local technology community.  Now Austin will become the laboratory for building on the Kansas experience to develop new ideas in a larger market.     

CHICAGO’S INFRASTRUCTURE TRUST
The City of Chicago is the first U.S. municipality to establish a non-profit agency, the Chicago Infrastructure dedicated to accessing and manage private capital in constructing and operating public works projects.  This initiative recognizes that federal grants, municipal bonds and gas tax revenue are not enough to pay for infrastructure needs.  State and local governments in the United States currently account for less than 10 per cent of all P3 investment worldwide.    
    

THE “INFORMATION POLITY”    
Private citizens are active in tapping into publicly available data to create apps that are useful to the general public.  A recent whitepaper, “The Dynamics of Opening Government Data,” which assess open government initiatives, describes an “information polity” or a relationship between governments and their employees, app developers and citizens that adds value to public data.
  
TORONTO/STRATFORD ON SHORT LIST OF MOST INTELLIGENT WORLD CITIES 
The New York-based Intelligent Community Forum (ICF), has included the Cities of Toronto and Stratford on a short list of world cities competing for the “Intelligent Community of the Year Award.” The award goes to the city that has the best practices in broadband deployment and use, innovation and digital inclusion.    

CHICAGO PLAN PUTS PEDESTRIANS FIRST
Chicago’s new Complete Streets Design Guideline sets out a new approach for assessing transportation projects.  Beginning this summer,  all projects from major street repairs to minor roadside work will be reviewed within a new “default modal hierarchy” where pedestrians have priority. 

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS    
THE MEANING OF INNOVATION IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT
A new report  from the New American Foundation California Innovation Project, has found that the most important innovations in the views of government workers are changes in bureaucratic processes that improve service delivery and reduce costs.  The report, based on a survey of California city managers and county administrators, also finds that pressures from elected officials and legislative requirements are key drivers of change.   

UNDERSTANDING CULTURAL DISTRICTS AND URBAN WORKSHOPS
Urban cultural districts centred on museums and performance halls develop relatively quickly, while creative “urban workshops” or mixed use areas where startups and light manufacturing re-enter urban neighbourhoods, tend to develop incrementally.  Both types of neighbourhoods are important to urban resilience.

THE CHALLENGES OF CIVIC ENGAGEMENT        
A new paper, “Citizen Participation, Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing Challenges (Journal of Planning Literature),” assesses how online participation can add legitimacy to planning processes by bringing the broadest range of perspectives to the table in decision making.  
 
EUROPEAN POLICE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA 
The COMPOSITE Project (Comparative Police Studies in the EU) examined the police use of social media in ten European countries and identified nine key themes to support more efficient community policing and community interaction.    

USING DEEP ANALYTICS TO UNDERSTAND URBAN COMPLEXITY
IBM researchers have developed analytics software that provides information about peoples’ movements. This data can be used by city managers to plan new transit routes, improve the efficiency of current transit systems and coordinate various transportation modes.  The project, Insights in Motion, has been piloted in Dubuque, Iowa and Istanbul, Turkey. 

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS ASSESSING U.S. CITY RESOURCES
A recent Next City article assesses efforts by the Cities of Detroit and Philadelphia to control escalating expenditures, driven largely by pension and entitlement costs.  While Detroit is the largest U.S. city facing bankruptcy, a range of other local governments have already gone bankrupt and experience shows that cutting services and raising taxes may not be the answer.  

MANAGING URBAN PARKS
Many cities, seeing their park space as components of economic development strategies, are focusing on how park visitors can obtain more from their use of urban recreational space.  The experience of the High Line development in New York City, which has triggered new development, jobs and tourism revenue, is initiating new thinking about a business model for parks as a system of interconnected activities and stakeholders.

SHENZHEN TO BEGIN EMISSIONS TRADING
Shenzhen, China is set to begin emissions trading on June 17, and will be the first Chinese city to undertake a regional carbon exchange.  At the outset, Shenzhen will include 635 companies in the cap-and-trade program. Pilot programs for other carbon trading are scheduled to open later this year.        

SAN FRANCISO PARKLET MANUAL
San Francisco’s “Pavement to Parks” and “Parklet” programs create park space by reclaiming excess/under-used roadway and using low-cost interventions.  The city’s Parklet Manual promotes individual actions by businesses, community groups and residents to develop public open space.     

FALUN DEMOCRACY CITY PROGRAM
The City of Falun, Sweden launched its Democracy City Program in 2011 to offer citizens greater involvement in decision making leading up to the hosting of the FIS Nordic world ski championships (2015). The program, which has been expanded to local government areas such as education and infrastructure, includes the creation of a website, public networks, democracy centres in libraries and “democracy navigators.’    
  

WATERLOO LOCAL FOOD CHARTER
A Waterloo Region council committee has endorsed a Local Food Charter advocated by a non-profit group of food producers, gardeners and nutrition advocates. The charter focuses on access to affordable food and encourages policies to assist local food producers and distributors. 

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS PARTNERSHIPS SUPPORT CLEAN UP OF URBAN WATERWAY
The Sustainable Raritan River initiative  in New Jersey, led to an Action Report that outlines five priorities to improve water quality in the watershed, managed by a large public/private environmental partnership. The watershed, which has been contaminated by farming, industrial and land development activities, is home to over one million residents. 

OBSTACLES TO LOCAL GOVERNMENT INNOVATION
A new report, “The Case for Strengthening Personal Networks in California Local Government,”  builds on interviews and surveys with California city managers and county administrators, to examine how they adopt new approaches and the processes through which they learn about potential solutions for community challenges.

SUPPORTING CORNER STORES
The traditional corner store, a landmark of 20th century urban neighbourhoods, have largely been converted to other uses or torn down to accommodate more intensive land use.  Two recent trends, walkable/mixed use communities and support for healthy locally produced foods, are leading to a renewed interest in small neighbourhood stores. 

COMPLETE STREETS POLICIES  
Smart Growth America has recently released a report “The Best Complete Streets Policies of 2012,” that assesses and highlights some of the best policies passed in the past year, to enable safe and accessible roadways. 

AGE-FRIENDLY SUBURBS
While there is a range of approaches to housing and caring for senior citizens depending on their personal needs, it is clear that seniors’ changing lifestyle preferences will also have major impacts.  For example, increasing numbers of seniors are continuing to work into their 70s and are living in their own homes where there are often community supports and the fluctuation in property values has affected retirement choices. Learn more about ways suburban communities can be retrofitted to serve as an option for seniors

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS        NRDC CHICAGO OFFICE DEMONSTRATES BUILDING RE-USE   
The location and development of the new Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) office in Chicago reflects what the organization has been promoting through the re-use of existing buildings, the prevention of urban sprawl and conservation of green space.  The new site is  served by public transportation and the use of sustainable materials in refurbishing the building have lowered energy use and water consumption.      
 
INNOVATION ECONOMIES
The Urban Land Institute and The Aspen Institute have released a report entitled, “Principles of Creating Innovation Economies:  A 21st Century Economic Development Tool,” which details approaches to creating economies relating to place, culture and talent.  The report contends that these initiatives require both leadership and support from the private and public sectors.    

2012 CODE FOR AMERICA ANNUAL REPORT
Learn more about the service of developers, designers and innovative public servants in leading innovative change in cities through Code for America  .

CITY SIDEWALK DESIGN
The public street and sidewalks which are the primary categories of urban space, create access, and land values and enable interaction between customers and businesses and the exchange of ideas between residents.  Learn more about the value of sidewalks in current urban settings.    

ELEMENTS OF GREEN CITIES
Communities across Canada and the U.S. are promoting “green branding” recognizing that smart, sustainable cities and economic responsibility contribute to economic efficiency and a high quality of life.  Attorney and land use planner Lee Epstein outlines  some perspectives on the essential elements of green cities.    
  
OTHER DEVELOPMENTS  MOSCOW CITY COMPLEX
By the end of 2014, Moscow could lay claim to four or five of the tallest buildings in Europe. The Moscow City complex, conceived in 1992, which has been seen as the city’s response to London’s Canary Wharf, languished until Russia’s economic recovery generated by oil revenue. 

ASSESSING TRAFFIC IN FIVE CANADIAN CITIES
The IBM Social Sentiment Index, based on analytics technology, reflects social media messaging relating to commuters’ preferred routes and transportation challenges in Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax. This measure can assist local governments to plan for remedial transportation investments to relieve congestion.

ROTTERDAM CROWDFUNDS BRIDGE
A team of architects in Rotterdam has undertaken a crowdfunding initiative to build a wooden bridge to serve a pre-war thriving neighbourhood in the city. City officials said government construction would take 30 years to finance. Building is proceeding in stages in line with public donations, based on per plank and segment costs.

U.S. STATE/LOCAL GOVERNMENTS FOCUS ON PENSION POLICY
The “Big 7” state and local government associations and the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) have recently released “Pension Funding: A Guide for Local Officials", to provide an overview of public pension issues that should be addressed by state and local government officials. The report recommends objectives for pension funding policies.

THE FUTURE OF 27 CITIES CENTRAL TO THE WORLD ECONOMY 
In the fifth edition of Cities of Opportunity, PwC and the Partnership of New York City assess the economic performance of the world’s leading cities.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS UK GOVERNMENT NETWORK TO TRANSFORM LOCAL SERVICES
The UK Local Government Minister, Brandon Lewis, recently announced a new multi-agency network to help transform services at the local level. A key objective is to identify and communicate lessons learned from the Community Budgets Program, which fosters local service delivery innovation.

NEW NRDC/CNU AGREEMENT TO CONTROL SPRAWL
The U.S. National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Congress for New Urbanism (CNU) announced a new agreement on April 1, 2013, that will see the CNU pull back from supporting “new towns” and the NRDC cease its opposition to development in any form in existing downtowns, which raises environmental concerns.

DENVERS’S NEW FOCUS ON DENSITY 
FasTracks is the City of Denver’s multi-billion dollar regional plan to expand transit in new and existing corridors and to create a central multi-modal regional transportation hub at the Denver Union Station site. The plan is financed by a 4 cent sales tax approved by city residents in 2004. The regional plan also has a focus on transit-oriented development (TOD), which has already affected the character of the city.  

TOP TWITTER TRANSPORTATION SOURCES
A range of transportation professionals, developers and urban planners are using Twitter to stay in touch with urban trends, local community organizations and professional colleagues. Learn more about some top Twitter feeds to follow relating to transportation infrastructure.  

IMPACTS OF DRIVERLESS CARS 
Automakers are competing to introduce driverless vehicles and components of this technology are being introduced as new vehicles models are produced. A recent Meeting of the Minds (urban innovation) article assesses how driverless vehicles may impact urban areas.  

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
 

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Bruce McLeod
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