Innovation News June 2013

THE CONDITION OF AMERICAN CITIES
A recent Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) article assesses two starkly different perspectives on the state of U.S. cities. Katz and Bradley of the Brookings Institution see the American economy as a composite of metro economies that reflect the new locus of government leadership. However, a recent report released by Living Cities sees five economic and fiscal trends leading to urban decline and struggling communities.

MANAGING LAND USE DISPUTES 
Land use disputes often waste time and lead to unsatisfactory outcomes. A new dispute management approach outlined in “Land in Conflict: Managing and Resolving Land Use Disputes,” released by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy promotes a focus on both mutual interests and mutual gains.

GREEN CITIES SURVEY
A major global survey of 90 city governments conducted by LSE Cities, outlines the environmental challenges that cities face in establishing green polices and economies. The report presents findings on policy approaches related to land use, transportation, buildings, energy, waste and water and includes eight case studies in facilitating green growth.

DURHAM REGION STRATEGY PROMOTES LOCAL FARMING
Durham Regional Council recently approved an Agricultural Strategy that positions the region to attract, retain and expand agricultural and agri-food businesses. The strategic support to the local food industry helps in sustaining long term economic diversity.

MONTRÉAL URBAN ECOLOGY CENTRE TO CREATE COMMUNITY NETWORK
The Montréal Urban Ecology Centre (MUEC), with the support of Public Health Canada, will launch the Active Neighbourhoods Canada project. The project will involve twelve communities in Quebec, Ontario and Alberta in the use of specific tools to link the public health network and the municipal sector to create better environments for cyclists, pedestrians and greater public participation in local development decisions.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS  "MAKER CITIES”
Innovative citizens or “makers” are using open source technology platforms to focus efforts on complex urban challenges and creating new forms of citizen-led governance. Citizen “makers” are pioneering crowd funding platforms and establishing new ways to create local economies. “Maker Cities" like New York or London continue to emerge as centres for smart innovation, where startups and innovators mine data and citizens benefit from mobile apps and a greater connection between buildings and the infrastructure that serves them.

NETHERLANDS DIGITAL DELTA PROJECT        
The Dutch Government is launching an innovative collaboration directed at managing big data to operate water systems more cost-effectively. The Digital Delta initiative includes the Ministry of Water, the Deltares Science Institute, the University of Delft, IBM and other community organizations in sharing and assessing water-related data to develop new technologies.

REGENERATING U.S. LEGACY CITIES 
America’s older, industrial metropolitan areas continue to face manufacturing decline and population loss. A recent publication “Regenerating America’s Legacy Cities", presents analyses of 18 cities as a basis for advocating step by step “strategic incrementalism” to take stock of and exploit assets such as downtowns, parks, transportation systems and academic and cultural institutions.

CANADA’S AGING POPULATION
A KPMG report, “An Uncertain Age: Reimagining Long Term Care in the 21st Century", concludes that while aging has been identified as a key issue in Canada and worldwide, strategies to address this matter are fragmented. The remedial priories identified include refocused  health care models, the decline in long-term elderly care services, a dwindling health care work force and resource challenges.

MANITOBA HONOURS AGE-FRIENDLY COMMUNITY INITIATIVES 
The Manitoba Government has recognized ten of its communities for their support of the province’s Age-Friendly Initiative. Manitoba has worked closely with the Public Health Agency of Canada to develop benchmarks that define age-friendly communities.

HOUSE FACTS DATA STANDARD 
Recently, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Code for America and a coalition of industry and government partners announced the House Facts Data Standard for municipalities to open residential inspection data. The data standard provides a range of information about the health and safety of residences. Cities likely to release data in the near future include Las Vegas, Kansas City and Gary and Bloomington Indiana.

PUTTING NYC VACANT LOTS TO USE
Twenty five years ago, after a decades old trend of population decline, the City of New York was owner and/or operator of thousands of properties, including abandoned buildings, semi-occupied buildings and vacant lots. To assess the potential of the component of the city’s property portfolio, the Architectural League and the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) produced Vacant Lots, which invited architects to develop designs for underutilized land parcels. Learn about these proposals and what was built.

PROS AND CONS OF CROWDFUNDING 
UK local authorities are searching for innovative ways to raise money. One possible approach is crowdfunding, which entails inviting members of the community to donate funds toward a specific civic project.  Learn about some perspectives on this potential revenue source.

AN INTERVIEW WITH NYC COMMISSIONER DAVID BURNEY
In a recent interview with PLACES editor Nancy Levinson, New York City Commissioner of Design and Construction, David Burney, provides his observations on the City’s record of urban design, on PlaNYC and the post-Sandy recovery effort.

BALTIMORE CONVERTS VACANT PROPERTIES TO REHAB HOMES
The City of Baltimore Vacants to Values Program is succeeding in targeting abandoned housing for reinvestment. The program, which was initiated by Mayor Rawlings-Blake in late 2010, contains specific components including market analysis of area development potential, streamlined  city property disposition, intensified code enforcement, investment facilitation, homebuyer incentives, clearing of development areas and land banking.

COMMUTER-ADJUSTED POPULATIONS    
While about 1.5 million people live in Manhattan,  recent data suggest that New York City’s core increases to over 3 million people daily as people commute into the city to work.  This Manhattan  commuter-adjusted population statistic is also evidenced in other major U.S. urban centres with large job numbers and needs careful consideration in planning and investing in regional transportation infrastructure.   

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS THE HUMAN SCALE DOCUMENTARY
A new documentary, the Human Scale, examines numerous projects from around the world by architect Jan Gehl.  The documentary draws from the Copenhagen-based architect’s recent book, Cities for People, and reflects his firm’s focus on the processes behind architectural planning and the creation of spaces based on the senses and scale of the human being.     

CONVENIENT PUBLIC PARKS
The Trust for Public Land (TPL) 2012 City Park Facts assesses park access across U.S. cities.  Learn more about the cities with the best and worst large and neighbourhood park access and some related quality of life impacts.   

CITY INNOVATION
The Center for an Urban Future and NYU Wagner have produced a report, Innovation and the City, that highlights specific innovative polices from across the U.S. and around the world that have application to a range of urban locations.  The policies result from interviews with some 200 policy experts from cities that have led promising urban reforms.  

NEW YORK’S PROTECTION FROM THE NEXT STORM SURGE
The City of New York has released proposed measures to protect the city against storm surges, like Hurricane Sandy, that ravaged the city and the U.S. east coast. The reports focus on a $20 billion resiliency initiative, new evacuation zones and an action plan for preparing buildings for extreme weather events.  

VANCOUVER’S SUPPORT FOR START-UPS  
Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook are all opening local offices in Vancouver, recognized for its cultural diversity and livability.  Learn more about the reasons why Vancouver is a leader in start-ups.   

AUSTRALIA’S URBAN DESIGN POTOCOL
Creating Places for People, an urban design protocol for Australian cities, is  a web-based tool that sets out principles for high quality urban places, including cities, regional centres and rural towns. The protocol is being promoted by Australian government agencies, state and territorial governments and various local government associations.
 
WATERLOO LAUNCHES CANADA’S TECHNOLOGY FOR FOOD CENTRE
The City of Waterloo has introduced Canada’s Technology for Food ((CTFF) to integrate the city’s technology expertise with its food processing sector to develop world-class, innovative technology solutions for food and beverage processors. The initiative is designed to create a broader business base to balance and add greater resilience to the local economy.
    
THE CONCEPT OF COMMERCIAL GENTRIFICATION 
Suburban strip malls which reflect outdated architecture, automobile dependency and inefficient land use are prime candidates for replacement by greener forms of development.  In fact some strip mall locations have been the subject of leading, affordable smart growth developments that attract immigrant owned businesses and start-ups.  Learn more about the economic benefits and risks of strip mall redevelopment.
        
PRINCIPLES FOR DIGITAL URBANISM 
There is a wide range of “Smarter City” projects that show how social media, the sharing of public data and app and internet developments can support broad urban objectives related to economic resilience, sustainable infrastructure and higher quality of life. While some key cities such as San Francisco, New York, Dublin and Portland have implemented data platforms, other cities are much less advanced in deciding and applying technology design principles in the governance and operation of cities.
  
WHAT’S NEXT FOR DETROIT?
Detroit’s Emergency Manager, Kevin Orr, has laid out stark choices for the city that could lead to reaching a deal with the city’s creditors or filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. At stake are the impacts on Detroit’s citizens and Michigan State credit ratings.

AUTOMATED HIGHWAYS AND INTELLIGENT VEHICLES
A recent Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) article examines the potential of both fully automated highways and intelligent vehicle systems developments in the context of emerging social values about driving, walkability and the design of cities.
       
OTHER DEVELOPMENTS A CITIZEN’S GUIDE TO OPEN GOVERNMENT
Citizens want their governments to provide clear, credible and accessible information about how business is being carried out. Open Government, E-Government and Government 2.0 are all approaches focused on greater collaboration and transparency and efficiency in engaging citizens. View a list of organizations, blogs, guides and tools to enable citizens and public service leaders to understand these initiatives.

TEN TRANSFORMATIVE IDEAS FOR CITIES 
The Danish organization Sustainia catalogues available transformative ideas for sustainability. Within the Sustainia 100 catalogue, ten ideas / focus directly on cities.

AGE-PROOFING STREETS
The pervasive baby boomer generation is preparing to age well past age 75, transforming the demographics of cities and bringing a very different lens to urban design. A recent Atlantic Cities article assesses the significant challenges in age-proofing cities and the infrastructure and systems that will be necessary.

ONTARIO MUNICIPAL SOCIAL MEDIA SURVEY 
The Redbrick Communications Municipal Social Media Survey examines social media use by all Ontario municipalities to determine the extent of use and the platforms being used. Learn more about the latest survey results.

LONDON, UK VISION 2020  
The City of London Mayor’s Vision 2020 demonstrates the value of both outward looking and forward looking approaches to setting directions to meet growth and economic challenges. Vision 2020 sets out London’s ambitions, priorities and government relationships.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS  SMART GROWTH AND MUNICIPAL BUDGETS
A recent report from Smart Growth America finds that there are significant fiscal benefits for local governments and taxpayers from smart growth development. The report assesses 17 studies from across the U.S. that compare various development scenarios and projects.     

UK COUNCILS EMBRACE SOCIAL MEDIA 
A recent of survey of UK local authorities has determined that 90 per cent of councils are using some form of social media.  This reflects the fact that three quarters of UK consumers now have Facebook accounts.  While councils are realizing the benefits of social media as a customer service tool, it is more difficult to measure the benefits and impacts of social media.      
  
SUSTAINBLITY RESOURCES
The International City/County Management Association (ICMA) Center of Sustainable Communities provides leading practice research regarding sustainability for local government professionals and stakeholders.  Learn more about some specific publications on local government energy programs.  
  
MODULAR BUILDING IN NYC
New York City architects are finding that for greater efficiency in building higher density where there are large quantities of repetitive units, “prefab” building technology makes sense.  Modular construction not only makes building more precise and economically efficient, it can help relieve congestion and extended construction times.  

NYC LAUNCHES NATION’S LARGEST BIKE SHARING PROGRAM      
In late May, New York City launched Citi Bike, a privately financed program which is the largest in the U.S.   The program takes advantage of the hundreds of miles of bike lanes established by the City of New York administration.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS CHICAGO’S PUBLIC HOUSING TRANSFORMATION
A recent article based on a decade of research related to the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) outlines some lessons that have implications for other cities facing challenges in providing affordable housing with shrinking resources.  Learn more about the CHA transformation initiative that has led to attractive new developments, better quality of life and operational improvements.

TRANSFORMING UNDERPERFORMING SMALLER POLICE AGENCIES       
Smaller communities are confronting operational challenges arising from the impacts of economic downturn.  Police agencies in smaller communities have been struggling to provide adequate protection in the face of rising suburban and rural crime rates.  A recent article in Police Chief Magazine examines ways to address issues in smaller agencies and programs that can lead to higher performing organizations.    
  

MAPPING PARKING DEMAND
City regulations often provide for more parking that is actually required when approving development applications.  However, the alternative of too little parking can also bring traffic complications.  Agencies in Seattle region have developed the Right Size Parking Indicator app that estimates parking demand generated by specific parcels of land.   

PARIS AND SAN FRANCISCO RENEW DIGITIAL PARTNERSHIP
The Cities of Paris and San Francisco have renewed their digital sister cities agreement to develop smarter cities.  The original partnership agreement, signed  in 1996, has led to a range of initiatives to reshape urban service delivery.  Over the next few years, labs in both cities will collaborate on technology startups and business incubators.  

U.S. RUSTBELT RENAISSANCE
Since the mid-1980s, the U.S has lost on average 372,000 manufacturing jobs each year, as once thriving industrial centres like Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati, St.Louis and others  compete with Vietnam, Bangladesh and Thailand for manufacturing jobs.  The City of Pittsburgh is has weathered this trend and represents a case study in “creative destruction,” where a new industry based on technology and research has emerged from the ashes of the steel industry.  

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS MODELING SUCCESSFUL TRANSIT ORIENTED DEVELOPMENT 
The current rate of growth of the “North of Massachusetts Avenue” (NoMa) neighbourhood in Washington, D.C., would have been difficult to project a couple of decades ago, when the area was characterized by vacant lots and warehouses. Learn more about the growth impacts of the construction of a new Metro station, cost shared through a value capture approach to development.  
    
THE NEW GLOBAL START-UP CITIES  
The geography of U.S. high-tech start-up clusters including Silicon Valley, Boston’s Route 128, San Francisco and lower Manhattan is generally familiar; however, there is less clarity about the locations of start-up cities around the globe.  A recent Atlantic Cities article maps and assesses these locations. 

TORONTO’S FIVE YEAR PARKS PLAN     
Toronto City Council has approved a new strategic plan for the city’s parks system to inform investment decisions through the next five years.  The plan provides for initiatives related to parkland development, management and operation and focuses on parks sustainability and quality.  
 
ULI ANNOUNCES URBAN OPEN SPACE AWARDS
The Urban Land Institute (ULI) has selected five finalist projects for its 2013 Urban Open Space Award.  The award recognizes leading examples of open space transformation that have generated positive economic and social impacts. The finalists include:  Yards Park in Washington, D.C,;  Nashville’s Cumberland Park; Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York City; the Village on False Creek in Vancouver; and the Wilmington Waterfront Park in Wilmington, California.
    
ACCOMODATING AGING BOOMERS
In a recent Atlantic Cities article, Richard Florida assesses the increasing seniors demographic in the U.S. and where seniors are likely to live.  People between the ages of 45 and 65 in the U.S. number 81.5 million and the rate of growth of U.S. seniors population, is illustrated by the fact that 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 every day through 2031.  Learn more about some observations on seniors’ preferred living locations.      

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS      
 
THE COMEBACK OF UK SOCIAL HOUSING
The current UK Government introduced social housing policies that moved beyond Thatcher era initiatives that compelled local councils to allocate housing primarily to those most in need.  Now larger discounts encourage tenants to buy their homes, new affordable rents are 80 per cent of market value and earlier lifetime tenancies can now be offered for five years.  The result has been a surge in new council-house building.

EDMONTON’S TEN YEAR PLAN TO END HOMELESSNESS               
Edmonton’s Homelessness Commission has released its Year 4 Update on meeting the goals of Edmonton’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness. The plan is focused both on the city’s obligation to provide shelter for those in chronic need and reducing the high homeless “street person” costs of those without adequate support.    

IDEAS TO TRANSFORM BRISBANE
Brisbane City Council has issued a range of new ideas as part of its City Centre Master Plan.  Learn more about the city’s Ideas Fiesta and the 16 key areas identified for urban change.  

GROW SMART RHODE ISLAND
Many communities have recognized the benefits of historic preservation to retain districts that promote opportunities for economic development. Providence, Rhode Island features an enviable stock of fine historic architecture in its core. Organizations such as Grow Smart Rhode Island  can be key advocates for asset-based economic development that capitalizes on historic architecture.  

MUNICIPAL FOOD POLICY ENTREPRENEURS 
A report released June 4 by the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute (CAPI), on municipal food policy activities finds that municipal governments across Canada are using a food systems approach to generate economic development, address environmental sustainability and improve local health.  The report is the first scan of municipal and regional food policy development in Canada.
   
OTHER DEVELOPMENTS FCM CALLS FOR STRATEGIC FEDERAL/MUNICIPAL PARTNERSHIP
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) has released its “Report of the Cities and Communities ” which calls for a new strategic federal recognition of the role of municipalities in meeting national objectives, new partnership mechanisms and a policy framework for cities and communities.  
  
LOCAL GOVERNMENTS AND THE RAILWAY SECTOR UNVEIL NEW GUIDELINES
The Railway Association of Canada (RAC) and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities issued a new set of guidelines and launched a website intended to promote best practices and awareness regarding development near railway locations.  The report, “Guidelines for New Development in Proximity to Railway Operations,” covers issues such as noise, vibration and safety with regard to new residential development.    

THE WORLD’S SMARTEST CITIES
About half of the world’s population live in urban areas and this figure is expected to increase to 85 per cent by 2050.  In order to cope with this expansion, cities are searching for smart solutions to  sustainable economic growth and an improved quality of life.   Learn more about cities leading the implementation of smart solutions to these problems.  

THE POTENTIAL OF URBAN DATA
Cities are accumulating data at a high rate and are often at a loss as to what to do with it.  Many cities such as San Francisco, New York, Boston, Toronto, Ottawa and Chicago are sharing and publishing raw data publicly to enable  apps developers to create new tools and services. Initiatives in  New York and Chicago  are also processing  data to  improve decision and policy making.      

ENERGY FUTURES FOR CANADA
The Conference Board  of Canada Strategic Foresight Initiative has assessed energy futures for Canada through 2050.   Four scenarios emerged as bases for shaping a Canadian energy strategy.

FASCINATING MAPS
Maps as two dimensional depictions, are becoming more  dynamic visions of where we live and how we move,  through the application of technology.  View some interesting visualizations that capture urban activity.      

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

Contact

Bruce McLeod
OMKN Coordinator

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