Innovation News January 2013

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT LESSONS
The publication, Emergency Management, has produced a wide range of articles on emergency management and disaster preparedness.  Learn more about some topics and lessons learned in 2012

USING TWITTER IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT 
A UK Walsall Council member, Dan Slee, has assessed his local government’s use of Twitter since 2008 in informing and engaging community residents.  His 12 lessons learned offer insights into social media use for application to other jurisdictions.  

IMMIGRANT EMPLOYMENT SOLUTIONS
Through 2012, a variety of Canadian immigrant employment councils have developed and implemented new ideas to enable skilled immigrants to find employment. The Maytree Foundation, Maytree Conversations, offers some highlights. 

CANADIAN SUSTAINABILITY PLAN INVENTORY
The University of Alberta Centre for Sustainable Rural Communities (ACSRC) has announced the launch of the Canadian Sustainability Plan Inventory (CSPI). The searchable online inventory is the most comprehensive in the country.  

NEW HOUSTON PARKING DISTRICT
Houston City Council has approved a pilot parking benefits district, which is to become operational this spring.  Within the selected area, parking meters will be deployed with pay-by-phone technology and parking permits will be issued for neighbourhood residential communities. These measures are expected to facilitate parking and ease traffic problems.  Sixty per cent of the parking revenue will be returned to the district to fund neighbourhood improvements.    

INTELLIGENT CITIES
Time Magazine has recently explored the connections between technology and urbanization, in areas including education, energy, governance, health care and transportation.  

TORONTO CHIEF PLANNER’S VIEWS ON MID-RISE DEVELOPMENT
Jen Keesmaat the City of Toronto’s new Chief Planner, wants to change city zoning provisions to automatically allow mid-rise development along some specifically designated Toronto arterials.  The objective is to accommodate the city’s growing population by increasing density in moderately scaled neighbourhoods to avoid clusters of giant residential towers.   

URBANIZATION AND 3D MODELING
3D simulations of cities offer potential for assisting planners and engineers to anticipate and better plan for population growth.  Datasets embedded in 3D models include geological terrain, road networks, building heights and other information that enables modeling of the impacts of new developments and energy use.   Learn more about the 3D model of downtown Seattle and its potential.
 
PRINCIPLES FOR HIGH DENSITY CITIES
The Urban Land Institute (ULI) and Singapore’s Centre of Livable Cities (CLC) have produced a report that reflects Singapore’s successful experience in urbanization.  The principles for liveable high density contained in the report were prepared in the context of consultations and workshops on developments in four case study areas in Singapore.   

LOCAL GOVERNMENT FINANCE
The “Striking a Balance” White Paper prepared by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) outlines current financial trends that cities are facing, strategies to manage financial realities, examples of successful related citizen participation efforts and a framework for service delivery prioritization.    

AGING BABY BOOMERS AND CHANGING HOUSING NEEDS 
A  new Urban Land Institute (ULI) publication, “Housing in America: The Baby Boomers Turn 65,” explores housing market changes that are expected to occur as baby boomers begin to turn 65 years of age and the combined impacts of these changes as the “silent generation (those aged 67 to 84 years)” and the “greatest generation (those 85 and older)” choose housing options.        

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS MANHATTAN SKYSCRAPER BEING BUILT OVER MOVING TRAINS  
Development company, Brookfield, has broken ground on a New York City project that includes the construction of two 60 storey towers over a dozen train tracks on a site connecting Penn Station to the New Jersey tunnels.  Learn more about the innovative construction techniques.     

BEIJING TO IMPROVE AIR QUALITY    
The Beijing municipal government is launching plans to improve the city’s air quality. Steps include scrapping old vehicles, limiting the number of vehicles on roads and the adoption of National Emission Standard V, which will ban heavily polluting vehicles from the roads.   

GUIDE TO REIGHTSIZING STREETS
The Project for Public Spaces (PPS) Rightsizing Streets Guide, is designed to assist planners and community residents in making local road improvements. The guide contains a set of ten rightsizing case studies on road design outcomes and rightsizing techniques and best practices.      

CITY BUILDING PROJECTS TO FOLLOW IN 2013
The expansion of cities to unprecedented sizes poses critical environmental, economic and quality of life challenges.  Learn more about some significant city-building projects that contribute to meeting these challenges.  

WILL DETROIT HOST THE WORLD’S LARGEST FARM?
The Hantz Group, a network of financial services companies, has received approval from Detroit City Council for the acquisition of 170 acres of land in the city’s east side to begin development of “the world’s largest urban farm.” The conversion of vacant, abandoned properties will begin with the development of tree farms, through subsidiary, Hantz Woodlands.   

INNOVATIONS IN POLICY AND PRACTICES     
The Brookings-Rockefeller Project on State and Metropolitan Innovation has identified the top locally-based innovations  to watch, that have application to other communities.  These solutions relate to economic challenges, industrial growth, lowering carbon emissions, increasing workforce skills and strengthening government collaboration.     

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS BRISBANE’S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PLAN
The City of Brisbane’s Economic Development Plan (2012-2031)  launched by its Mayor in February 2012, sets out the priorities and actions required to support the city’s economic development through the next two decades.  The focus of the plan is to continue Brisbane’s transition from a regional economy to an internationally competitive growth centre.  

MEXICO CITY WINS SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT AWARD
A combination of bicycle routes, pedestrian-friendly plazas and walkways, new bus lines and  new parking restrictions have enabled Mexico City to capture the Sustainable Transport Award, conferred by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP).     

22 CITIES PREPARE TO PILOT THE FUTURE 
Citymart is sponsoring a competition for ideas to “pilot the future” in cities.  Some twenty two cities from around the world have presented specific challenges related to various aspects of urban development and entrepreneurs, companies, urban experts and research organizations are invited to submit ideas to solve these challenges.  

UK CITIES OUTLOOK 2013 
The Cities Outlook 2013  is the authoritative economic index for the 64 largest cities and towns in the United Kingdom.  The 2013 publication reinforces the importance of skills, efficient transportation, broadband connections and a good industrial base for economic success.

HOW NANAIMO REDUCED ITS ENERGY BILLS        
The City of Nanaimo has created a long term energy efficiency plan that has led to a series of actions and upgrades related to lighting, heating, buildings and infrastructure across the city.  Learn more about how these initiatives lowered energy bills, despite the city’s expansion and an increase in electrical rates.   

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS BUILDING THE ROAD OF THE FUTURE
A stretch of highway in the Dutch Province of Brabant is designed with temperature monitoring “dynamic paint” and centre lines that glow in the dark.  Crandon, Wisconsin is using a pavement that contains a chemical that prevents ice from forming and Israel is researching technology that converts vibrations from automobiles into electricity.  Learn more  about a sample menu of planned highway innovations.   

NEW TECHNOLOGIES FOR 21ST CENTURY URBAN MOBILITY    
Sustaining the role of cities as the world’s centres of innovation and economic growth will depend on applications of new transportation service technologies and new approaches to urban design.  A recent report, “Urban Mobility in the 21st Century,” examines key aspects of the challenges for urban mobility.  

RESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION TRENDS
Metropolitan areas in the U.S. are undergoing major changes as parking lots, vacant commercial properties and brownfield sites are being redeveloped through a range of residential infill projects.  These projects provide a fuller range of housing choices, more vibrant neighbourhoods, reduce infrastructure costs and provide the potential for a range of environmental benefits.  A recent report, “Residential Construction Trends in America’s Metropolitan Regions,”uses new data to assess infill development trends.   

APPS THAT IMPROVE CITIES
The ongoing development of mobile apps by cities  increases urban livability and the delivery of city services. Now both publicly and privately developed mobile apps  based on open data platforms, are increasing civic engagement, managing complaints and assisting in law enforcement. 

WALKABLE CITY ESSENTIALS    
Walk Score, the online measurement tool gages walkability; however, walk scores do not always reflect walk quality considerations such as safety, construction or noise issues.  Learn more about four key characteristics of appealing walkable districts.  

SUMMIT ON THE ECONOMICS OF POLICING
The Government of Canada has concluded its recent Summit on the Economics of Policing .  Discussion focused on three key themes: efficiencies in police services, new community safety models and efficiencies in the justice system.
 
OTHER DEVELOPMENTS EU’S GMES PROGRAM
The European Union Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) program promotes the development of tailor-made services which provide timely and cost-effective information to assist European national and local governments to move to more sustainable development.

STEPS TO A SMARTER CITY 
A recent publication at WORLD CITIES NETWORK.ORG, assesses ideas that are common to cities that have shown success in implementing city-wide systemic transformations to secure broad and meaningful outcomes.  Learn more about six key steps to s smarter city.   

THE FUTURE OF CANADIAN POLICING
On January 16, 2013 Federal Justice Minister Vic Toews will convene a two day “Summit on the Economics of Policing” involving participants from the federal, provincial and municipal governments together with police chiefs and members of civilian oversight bodies to address the cost of policing in Canada.  The event will assist in identifying and implementing new ways to improve community safety.    

ISTANBUL’S ECUMENOPOLIS
A new documentary film entitled “Ecumenopolis: City Without Limits” promotes a holistic approach to the (re) development of the City of Istanbul.  The film examines the city’s transformation from the demolition of slum areas to the construction of skyscrapers and reflects perspectives of community leaders, city residents, academics, investors and writers on the reasons for its development.

JAPAN’S URBAN AGRICULTURE    
According to data from the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the country’s urban agriculture is more productive than its rural counterpart.  While the Japanese Government defines specific roles for urban agriculture, there are both regulatory challenges and local economic and well-being opportunities facing the sector.    

HOW U.S. CITIES ARE ADAPTING TO CLIMATE CHANGE
A new report from the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives provides examples of local government adaptation efforts based on an ICLEI survey of 298 American cities.    

DETROIT FUTURE CITY
T
he Detroit Works Project has released their long awaited strategic plan for the city.  The plan entitled, “Detroit Future City,” deals with the city’s stark realities of decline.  The goal of the plan is to stabilize population loss for an ultimate population of from 600-800,000 people.  The plan anticipates the development of a multi-nodal network of differentiated neighbourhoods.  

POCKET NEIGHBOURHOOD CONCEPT IN LITTLE ROCK
The “pocket neighbourhood” concept, promoted by architect Ross Chapin, reduces the footprint of a group of smaller, single family homes by sharing gardens and amenities.  The City of Little Rock has applied the concept to improve a declining neighbourhood, where an infill development project reflects both increased density and stormwater control measures.  

UK COMMUNITY BUDGETS
Community budgets in the United Kingdom bring together public sector funds and resources in local areas to provide local authorities including councils, police and health services to collaborate in the design of programs to meet the needs of local residents.  A recent study by the Local Government Association (LGA) estimates that more than £4 billion of public funds could be saved annually by reforming public sector programs.  
  
SHARING LOCAL GOVERNMENT INNOVATION
While there are specific reasons for cities to develop their own technology and problem solving approaches, there is growing recognition that independently developed solutions are often transferable to other jurisdictions.  In the U.S. this has led to various forums for sharing innovations, such as SF Park and Code for America or the internationally oriented, where successful municipal projects are showcased. 

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS SOME LESSONS FROM BUENOS AIRES
Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina with a population of 12 million people, is the second largest metropolitan area in South America.  Its parks, plazas, variety of transportation choices, complete neighbourhoods and walkable streets have resulted in a robust life style, demonstrating many urban features  that are transferable to North American cities.    

BROOKLYN’S FIRST PRE-FAB HIGH RISE
The Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn boasts a state-of-the-art housing component, which is the world’s tallest modular building.The apartment units in the building are entirely pre-fabricated and are manufactured at a site about one mile way.  Pre-fabricated housing has been in place for a long time, being used mainly for single family homes, but now developers are turning to these methods in building multi-family buildings because of the large cost savings. 

INNOVATIVE RE-USE OF SHOPPING MALLS 
Some innovative ideas are emerging for the re-use of shopping malls.  While malls across the U.S. are being converted into office space and call centres, a recent The Atlantic Cities article outlines some of the more creative new uses of shopping malls. 

NYC ZONE GREEN
In 2012, New York City adopted Zone Green, an amendment to the city’s zoning by-law that includes comprehensive changes to remove roadblocks to the construction of green buildings, energy efficiency and better environmental quality.  The zoning provisions focus on both new and existing buildings and remove prohibitions and penalties to provide incentives for green construction.  
     
LOCAL LEADERSHIP IN IMMIGRANT INTEGRATION  
A new report “Practice to Policy: Lessons from Local Leadership on Immigrant Integration,” examines the role of local governments in immigrant settlement.  International experts provide analysis and insights on a range of municipal practices to promote successful immigrant integration.  

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS U.S. STUDY PREDICTS CONTINUED URBAN SPRAWL
A recent study by the US Forest Service forecasts that developed land in the nation will increase by 41 per cent by 2060. The impacts are expected to be greatest on forested areas and losses of from 16 to 34 million acres of land are predicted.  

TOOLKIT FOR CITY SUPPORT TO SMALL BUSINESS 
The National League of Cities has released “Supporting Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses:  A Toolkit for Local Leaders,” in recognition of the value of small businesses in creating local jobs and defining community character.  The Toolkit provides advice to local government on specific measures to sustain and expand small business activity.

CHICAGO’S URBAN AGRICULTURE
Chicago’s Englewood neighbourhood is the focus of the city’s planning commission initiative to approve a land use plan that would reclaim some of the area’s 11,000 vacant lots in a 13 square mile section of the city. The South Side community, once a key commercial area, has lost almost 70 per cent of its population since 1960.  The initiative is enabled by the city’s new urban agriculture ordinance.
  
2013 APA PLANNING AWARDS 
The American Planning Association (APA) has announced the 2013 National Planning Excellence and Achievement Award winners. Projects recognized include comprehensive plans, zoning best practices, redevelopment sites, environmental planning and urban design initiatives.

WORLD MAYOR PROJECT   
The World Mayor Project seeks to raise the profile of mayors from around the world and honours those who have served their communities well and who have contributed to the well-being of cities nationally and internationally.  Learn more about the top World Mayors of 2012

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS PROTECTING LOS ANGELES PEDESTRIANS
With a higher than average pedestrian fatality rate, often as a result of hit-and-run collisions, living in Los Angeles has become hazardous for pedestrians.  City density puts a greater number of those who walk in greater proximity to traffic; however, there are steps that can be taken to secure greater pedestrian safety.  
    
CALLING FOR AN OPEN SOURCE SUITE FOR MUNICIPALITIES
A recent article published by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation (Harvard Kennedy School), is advocating the concept of “CivicOpen" or a Mozilla for civic technology, to reduce technology costs, transform local government service delivery through citizen-centred design and to enable any city to easily use and implement one or all of the systems.  

EXAMINING AN INCLUSIVE GREEN NEIGHBOURHOOD
Mariposa is a new inner-city mixed use, mixed income city-sponsored housing initiative in Denver, that has a range of green features and is a product of an exemplary community engagement process. The community was recently honoured with an EPA award for smart growth achievement.   

CHICAGO’S INFRASTRUCTURE TRUST
In March, 2012 Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced the Chicago Infrastructure Trust initiative to enable private companies to invest in public infrastructure projects, both earning return and assisting to put in place public works that otherwise would not be affordable.  Learn more about the Trust and the projects that are being proposed.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS DOWNTOWN SHOPPING DISTRICTS
According to the July, 2011 U.S. Census, the annual rate of growth in American cities has surpassed that of exurbs in both larger cities such as New York, San Francisco and Boston as well as older communities, including Cleveland and Detroit.  With this growth, high end shopping is shifting back to the downtowns, where entertainment venues are also luring both urban and suburban residents.
     
ASHEVILLE, NC WORKS TO ATRACT BUSINESS
The greater Asheville, NC area is developing business support programs specifically matched to the region’s assets. Ashville’s efforts provide some key lessons for municipalities who understand the importance of entrepreneurship and partnerships

SOME TRANSPORTATION POLICY PRINCIPLES    
A recent DC.STREETSBLOG.org article offers some thoughts on transportation budgeting and planning principles based on an assessment of the operation of transportation agencies. 

URBAN ROOFTOP FARMS 
Until recently rooftop urban farms were considered exotic; however, with the advent of the urban farming movement and the greater interest of residents in larger, dense cities in growing produce, urban rooftop farms are emerging worldwide.  Learn about some more innovative examples.

RETROFITTING A CALIFORNIA SUBURB  
The City of Lancaster, California (70 miles from Los Angeles) is a racially mixed suburban community of 150,000 people.  While the city’s economy has been associated with the aerospace industry, unemployment in mid-2012 stood at 15.7%, reflecting the loss of major employers.  To try to counter this trend, Lancaster adopted a form-based zoning code for its downtown corridor, leading to a rejuvenated and award-winning downtown boulevard.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS THE BEST GREEN IDEAS OF 2012
Some of the best ideas in 2012 in green buildings, land use planning, community revitalization and community sustainability publications are captured in this recent Atlantic Cities article.

FOLLOWING GREEN COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENTS IN 2013
Kaid Benfield (Natural Resources Defense Council) takes a look ahead to some key community development issues in 2013. Learn more about what he sees in store.

TOP CITIES STORIES OF 2012 
Urban centres around the world are developing innovative approaches to serving their citizens, even as they grapple with the pressures of growth or contend with natural disasters. With the prediction that some 70% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050, these trends and developments are compelling.

DOES ECONOMIC GROWTH LEAD TO CRIME REDUCTION?    
Some recent research in the U.S. has found declining homicide rates in the largest 24 urban centres through the past decade and concludes that the consistent homicide decline across these cities was not explained by local circumstances. The research finds that specific types of urban economic growth and transformation can lead to significant crime reduction.

HARNESSING GOVERNMENT DATA
Accurate, reliable data and strong data management and sharing practices are streamlining government operation and service delivery and data management innovations offer significantly greater potential when technology is used to connect people. Learn more about lessons in applied data innovation from U.S. state and local governments.

IS A NEW DEAL FOR LONDON IN THE WORKS?       
While the City of London has a strong Mayor and a unique range of authorities relative to other UK local governments, speculation is that the capital is preparing to submit a bid for an even greater level of local devolution. A “capital deal” for London could also act as a model and incentive for other UK regions and core cities.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS SMARTER PUBLIC SAFETY
Developments in information and communications strategies are assisting law enforcement agencies to meet public safety challenges. A new IBM publication, “Smarter Public Safety" outlines how to identify signs of crime patterns, predict when and where crimes may occur and how to take proactive steps in crime prevention. 

THE BEST OPEN DATA RELEASES OF 2012
Atlantic Cities has named the best open data releases from municipalities across the U.S. The emphasis for 2012 was on those datasets that included tools that can be used by anyone, not just app developers. 

PREDICTIONS FOR GOVERNMENT IT IN 2013
IDG Government Insights has released its “Top 10 Predictions" for government information technology in 2013. The rapid adoption by governments of big data analysis, cloud computing social business and mobility is anticipated to propel the use of “smart strategies” in 2013. 

BUILDING FOR A CHANGING CLIMATE
More extreme future climate scenarios pose risks for commercial and domestic properties and infrastructure. Technical design solutions are emerging and are becoming better understood and financial models are evolving that enable developers and land owners to integrate design solutions upfront to provide stable returns through time.     

UQM RELEASES BLUEPRINT FOR MUNICIPAL REFORM  
The Union of Quebec Municipalities has released a Municipal White Paper that proposes a new partnership for the management of local affairs in the Province. The paper identifies key challenges, priorities for the future and recommends a Charter of Quebec Municipalities and other fiscal relationship, transparency and sustainability initiatives.  
 
OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
 

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