Innovation News August 2013


URBAN PLANNING AND SAFE CITIES
While it is clear that criminal activity and violence in cities has a range of causes, it is also widely acknowledged that crime results in socio-economic costs including reduced economic investment and tourism and social cohesion. Growing evidence shows that urban planning and design decisions can lead to environments that can prevent or reduce crime risk.

EDMONTON FINDS VALUE IN ITS WASTE STREAM
Meeting the goal of diverting 90 per cent of its waste from landfills, has led the city’s leaders to move beyond traditional diversion approaches and to try to find value in the waste stream by not wasting city waste. Learn more about the city’s Reuse Centre, Eco Stations and waste to energy technology.

THE WALKABILITY OF GLOBAL CITIES 
Walk21, a non-profit that promotes and assesses walking-friendly cities, has developed the Making Walking Count Project that measures how walkable cites are against specific key walking indicators. The project enables cities to compare their initiatives with other global cities and to identify areas for improvement.

UK LAUNCHES STREAMLINED PLANNING GUIDE 
The UK Government has launched a new national online planning guide to simplify and clarify the planning system and enable improved community involvement. The online resource covers planning appeals, parking measures, housing for an aging population, neighbourhood planning and planning for open space local green space and other matters.

THE ECONOMIC VALUE OF TRANSIT
In a new paper to be published in Urban Studies, Robert Nolan of Rutgers University contends that the hidden economic value of public transit could be $1.5 million to $1.8 billion per year, depending on the size of a city. As more people move to a city centre, referred to as agglomeration, jobs, wages and productivity can increase over time.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
 
DUTCH FOLLOW UK LEAD ON SOCIAL HOUSING
Despite its strong social housing tradition, austerity and fiscal constraints in the Netherlands has led the coalition government to re-examine its housing policies. One of the ideas being considered is the shared ownership housing model that would enable more targeted social housing, that has been in place in the UK since the 1970s.  

REVISITING SEASIDE, FLORIDA
Seaside, a planned town on Florida’s panhandle coast, developed over thirty years ago, was considered to be radical in its day. Its compact and walkable design, green infrastructure and narrow streets led some to believe that it was over-planned.  A new book, Visions of Seaside, (Thadani) and a recent video review the lessons of innovative planning that Seaside represents.    

HOW CITIES BENEFIT FROM MIGRATION
Many acknowledge that cites thrive when immigrants settle in communities.  Learn about five key reasons why immigration benefits urban areas.
   
UBCM BLUEPRINT TO STRENGTHEN LOCAL GOVERNMENT FINANCE
The Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) Select Committee on Local Government Finance has issued a report (Policy Paper #1) on municipal revenue tools to deliver municipal services and a blueprint to strengthen the local government finance system.
      
HOW THE CHANGING WORKPLACE CAN AFFECT CITIES
The development of workplace technology, including portable laptops, VPNs, smartphones, high quality teleconferencing and the cloud, has enabled people to work anywhere at any time, blurring the separation between work and home.  Learn more  about some adjustments cities are making to accommodate these impacts.     

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS CALIFORNIA’S METROS CUT GREENHOUSE GASES 
In 2011, the California Air Resources Board  set targets for greenhouse gas emissions reduction for passenger vehicles by metro region.  Eighteen metropolitan regions were to develop “sustainable community strategies” to integrate transportation, housing and community development.  Learn more about progress in three of the larger metros.

CONNECTED CITIES
In a recent article, Forbes examines some leading examples of the application of technology to the operation of cities, including electric infrastructure to provide greater information on energy use and sensors to monitor carbon monoxide emissions and noise, water usage and clogged sewers.  

TEN TRENDS IN URBAN ENERGY MANAGEMENT
The Crystal, a sustainable cities initiative by Siemens, has identified ten trends for urban planners http://urbantimes.co/magazine/2013/08/ten-need-to-know-trends-in-urban-energy-management/ interested in maximizing energy efficiency in cities.    

“PEAK DRIVING” AND TRANSPORTATION PLANNING
Peak driving,” or the concept that driving will continue to decline, reflects the significant reduction in driving miles per capita since 1996 due to better public transit, high gas prices and an aging population.  Millennials continue to support this shift, which impacts both transportation planning and related investment.    
   

TOP TEN PLANNING WEBSITES - 2013   
Each year, Planetizen recognizes the ten best planning, design and development websites in the provision of online resources for news and research on the built environment.  The list reflects nominations by Planetizen readers and staff.  

PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS IN CANADA
A Conference Board of Canada report released on August 21, 2013, finds that Canada is a leader in the development of efficient public-private partnerships (P3s), with some 83 per cent of such projects being completed early or on time.

TORONTO CHIEF PLANNER ROUNDTABLE
The City of Toronto Planning Division has released the first Chief Planner Roundtable summary document, at the launch of the Planners in Public Spaces outreach initiative.  The Roundtable is a public forum that sponsors discussion on key city-building issues and current planning challenges confronting the city.  

NEW STRATEGY FOR WINNIPEG POLICE SERVICE
A new coordinated police strategy being developed by the Winnipeg Police Service will focus on community health to assist in dealing with the issue of police officers taking on social responsibilities which fall outside of the traditional purview of law enforcement.  Police are working with community partners to produce a more comprehensive approach to care and resources for the mentally ill and crime prevention.    

LIVING IN A SMART CITY
In the future, everything in a city from electricity grids, roads, sewer pipes, buildings and cars will be connected to the Internet and technology firms such as IBM, Siemens, Microsoft and Cisco are developing and marketing software to tackle a range of related city issues. Learn more about the smarter future of cities.  

BOOKS ABOUT CITIES
A course being offered at Cambridge University, called The New City, has been designed to provide students with an overview of the challenges and opportunities facing cities in the coming decades. The reading list for the course contains titles that have both a generalist and specialist focus on city matters

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
DEFINING URBAN SUSTAINABILITY 
In a recent SWiTCHBOARD (NRDC) article, Kaid Benfield shares his perspectives on a comprehensive, updated prescription for urban sustainability and the toolbox required beyond smart growth, urbanism and placemaking.
 
THE LATEST FUTURISTIC TRANSPORTATION
Recently, Elon Musk, founder of Tesla Motors, announced that he is working on a new transportation system.  The construction and operation of the Hyperloop is expected to be faster and cheaper than any other form of transportation. 

CHINA’S SKYCITY ONE
Broad Group subsidiary, Broad Sustainable Building, has developed a standardized, modular construction process where 90 per cent of the work is done in a factory setting, with the final stages of construction happening onsite.  The company’s SkyCity One, in China, will be 838 meters and 220 stories tall and will contain housing, offices, retail, school and hospital space.  

DO HIGHRISES DESTROY COMMUNITY?
While residential high-rise towers may not be appropriate in all urban settings,  there is a need to increase density in cities that cannot be ignored.  Supported by public transit, shops and services, more people in North American cities will need to be accommodated on smaller lots, in smaller units.  Learn more about perspectives on densification and  the influence of “Vancouverism.” 

PARKING BENEFIT DISTRICTS
The City of Austin has tackled the problem of parking congestion around the University of Texas West campus, arising from new zoning permitting increased densities, student motorists and increased commuter traffic.  The Parking Benefit District (PBD) was piloted to manage the area’s unsustainable parking demand.    

LINKING STRATEGIC PLANNING TO BETTER LAND USE 
Land use planning can benefit from a vision for the future that is supported by stakeholders, has a spatial dimension and reflects unique cultural and physical characteristics.  Learn more about strategic considerations related to land use patterns.      

IMPROVING CITIES THROUGH PUBLIC SPACE  
Streets, parks, plazas and courtyards are often planned and designed without public input.  A recent handbook released by the Project for Public Spaces (PPS), outlines best practices for successful public space.

PROTECTING BIKE LANES
Recently, there has been new evidence to show that bike infrastructure attracts cyclists and that protected bike lanes increase the number of cyclists.  Recent studies also found that increases in mixed land uses and areas of higher employment density also attract bike traffic.    

TOWN CONFRONTS SEA LEVEL RISE 
New Jersey seaside Town of Highlands officials are considering a $200 million project to lift the entire downtown 11 feet above its current elevation.  Post-Sandy, the downtown is considered extremely vulnerable and similar processes have already begun in many parts of the Jersey Shore.  

NEW MAPPING TOOL ENABLES DETAILED CITY COMPARISONS 
A new website, Urban Observatory, compares data from 16 global metropolitan areas.  Users are able to do side-by-side comparisons of up to three cities at a time, across 35 factors.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS LINKING STRATEGIC PLANNING TO BETTER LAND USE 
Land use planning can benefit from a vision for the future that is supported by stakeholders, has a spatial dimension and reflects unique cultural and physical characteristics.  Learn more about strategic considerations related to land use patterns.      

IMPROVING CITIES THROUGH PUBLIC SPACE  
Streets, parks, plazas and courtyards are often planned and designed without public input.  A recent handbook released by the Project for Public Spaces (PPS), outlines best practices for successful public space.

PROTECTING BIKE LANES
Recently, there has been new evidence to show that bike infrastructure attracts cyclists and that protected bike lanes increase the number of cyclists.  Recent studies also found that increases in mixed land uses and areas of higher employment density also attract bike traffic.  
 
TOWN CONFRONTS SEA LEVEL RISE 
New Jersey seaside Town of Highlands officials are considering a $200 million project to lift the entire downtown 11 feet above its current elevation.  Post-Sandy, the downtown is considered extremely vulnerable and similar processes have already begun in many parts of the Jersey Shore.  

NEW MAPPING TOOL ENABLES DETAILED CITY COMPARISONS 
A new website, Urban Observatory, compares data from 16 global metropolitan areas. Users are able to do side-by-side comparisons of up to three cities at a time, across 35 factors.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
THREE GLOBALTRANSPORTATION TRENDS
There are three key global transportation trends with the potential to reshape cities. These trends have been influencing urban policy in the UK and in cities in other developed countries.  Learn more about emerging smart transportation policies.  

CLEVELAND’S “URBAN AG” ZONE 
The City of Cleveland Urban Agricultural (“Urban Ag”) Innovation Zone is transforming four acres of deserted land to productive agricultural use. The city provided startup funding for tools and other resources and worked with partners to secure funding for long term development, rather than ad hoc uses on a temporary basis. The site also contains a year-round greenhouse facility.  

FIVE NEW BOOKS ABOUT FUTURE URBAN AREAS
There are some recent, instructive publications that assess key trends such as information technology developments and the increasing concentration of population and economic activity in urban areas.   Specific authors relate how current urban population growth trends are historically based, the role of metros and cities in future economic development, the influence of data networks and other developments. 
   
GUELPH TO CREATE FIRST OPEN GOVERNMENT ACTION PLAN
The City of Guelph will create Canada’s first municipal open government action plan. The innovative plan will be Guelph’s road map for more accountable, transparent and engaging local government. 
 
MUNICIPAL LEADERS APPROVE RAIL SAFETY PRINCIPLES
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) National Municipal Rail Working Group has approved guiding principles that address national municipal rail safety concerns.  The principles reflect the need for coordination between federal and other orders of government.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS AN APPROACH TO COMMUNITY REBUILDING
The Chatham Square area of New Haven, Connecticut is an older inner-city community that has experienced population and economic decline and some declining housing stock. To meet these challenges, the Chatham Square Neighbourhood Association has worked to engage the community in neighbourhood improvement strategies.  
  
LEVITATING PUBLIC TRANSIT 
While magnetically levitating (“maglev”) trains are in operation in China and Japan, the world’s first maglev mass transit system will be built in Tel Aviv.  
 
TRANSIT-ORIENTED DEVELOPMENT IN THE NETHERLANDS  
The Deltametropolis Association in the Netherlands in conjunction with the Delft University of Technology, has developed SprintCity, which is a planning support tool to help stimulate urban growth along rail corridors through the next 20 years. The tool offers new ways for stakeholders to collaborate in the development process.  
 
OPENING UP ZONING DATA
Chicago’s Second City Zoning, created by Open City Apps in Chicago breaks down complex zoning regulations into more understandable categories for those that who are not familiar with city codes.  The app enables users to visualize zoning data to better appreciate what the provisions mean in practice.  
    
PERSPECTIVES ON SUBURBS 
In the U.S. recent studies have shown that the rate of urban population growth is now leading growth in suburbs.  In metropolitan areas, growth has shifted to the urban core, reflecting not only the recent recession but also emerging consumer preferences.  Learn more about new perspectives on suburbs.        
  
TECHNOLOGY FOR SUSTAINABLE CITIES
With the evolution of digital communication and cellular networks, machine to machine (M2M) technology offers opportunities for more efficient and sustainable city operations.  Learn more some useful M2M applications.
 
THE NEW PARIS METROPOLITAN AREA
The City of Paris is set to merge with its hinterland in 2016, to become part of a huge new urban authority, with about three times the city’s current population and four times  its current land area.  The “M├ętropole du Grand Paris,” structure will overcome barriers between Paris and its suburbs to manage housing, land use planning and environmental programs.   
VANCOUVER’S GREENEST CITY ACTION PLAN
Vancouver’s Greenest City 2020 Action Plan (GCAP) is based on the work of the Mayor Robertson’s research team, that examined best practices from leading green cities around the world focusing on carbon and waste reduction and protecting ecosystems.      

“ROAD DIETS”
The phrase “road diets” coined by Dan Burden, refers to the reduction of road lanes and widths by engineers to secure greater safety and efficiency.  The extra space created is given over to non-car users, including pedestrians and cyclists.   

SAN FRANCISCO’S NEW URBAN AGRICULTURE PROGRAM  
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has approved the launch of an urban agricultural program and institutional structure to support the delivery of city resources to urban gardeners and farmers.  The initiative includes the establishment of resource centres to provide compost, mulch and tools, an assessment of opportunities for rooftop gardens and reduction in waiting lists for community gardens.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS     

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Bruce McLeod
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