Innovation News March 2013

LEADING GREEN CITIES
Some specific cities are making major strides in implementing sustainable strategies and future planning for less reliance on fossil fuels. Learn more  about leadership and innovation from five world cities: Reykjavik;  Vancouver;  Bogota;  Barcelona;  Curitiba 

AppMyCity!
The Atlantic Cities and the New Cities Foundation are launching the 2013 AppMyCity! Prize to promote mobile applications that improve the urban experience. The contest is open to app developers from around the world. 

SKYSCRAPER FARMS
Trials are in the works in several major cities for vertical farms, which offer potential for greater farming efficiency, waste reduction  and lower food production costs. Learn more about perspectives on vertical farming, including those of Dr. Dickson Despommier, a champion of the concept of vertical farming.  
   
EUROPEAN CITY SOLUTIONS
The European Commission has published a study on European Regional Development Fund projects  that reflect innovation in policy development, collaborative methods and good urban development practices.   

NYC LAUNCHES “LINK” FOR LOW INCOME RESIDENTS
The New York City Economic Development Commission (NYCEDC)  has launched “LINK” (Leveraging Innovations and our Neighborhoods in the Knowledge Economy) to promote skills to make low income New Yorkers more employable.   

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
HOW PARKING REQUIREMENTS CAN SLOW DEVELOPMENT
Anacostia, a compact historic neighbourhood in Washington, D.C., which is pedestrian-friendly and is served by a transit station and bus lines, is being hampered by a zoning code that dates back to 1958.  At that time, the car was the transportation mode of choice and retailers provided the required on-site parking.  Learn more about how these same parking provisions are now stifling redevelopment.
  
       
NLC LOOKS AT STATE OF CITY ADDRESSES 
The U.S. National League of Cities (NLC) has assessed the State of the City Addresses by mayors in U.S. cities and their key challenges and remedial strategies. Mayors are focusing on innovation and experimentation in five major issue areas.  
 
CAN DETROIT RECOVER?  
The decline of the City of Detroit, since 1950, has resulted in blighted urban neighbourhoods and a loss of one million residents.  To respond to the city’s financial issues and deteriorating services, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, has removed financial control from the city government, which is now in the hands of an emergency financial manager.  Learn more  about the measures that could be considered for the city’s recovery.    
   
KANSAS CITY HYDROPONIC FARM PROJECT
Kansas City is working on securing a $4 million private investment in a hydroponic farm  on its downtown waterfront.  Plans include a 100,000 square foot greenhouse on a 5 acre parcel of land, that will produce fresh food in an environmentally friendly way for planned adjacent residential and retail development.  
  
THE FUTURE OF AMERICAN HOUSING
A new book, “Reshaping Metropolitan America:  Development Trends and Opportunities to 2030,” (Arthur C. Nelson) examines demographic shifts, changing market demand, new economic realities and rising energy costs and their impacts on the emerging contexts for development and redevelopment.  

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
ASSESSING BUS RAPID TRANSIT
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), where dedicated lanes separate buses from general traffic and passengers pre-pay fares, has yielded low cost public transportation improvements and less traffic congestion.  A recent Atlantic Cities article examines the deployment of BRT across world cities to determine relative performance and the impacts of city-specific factors. 

EXAMINING WHAT MAKES CITIES GROW
Two very different perspectives have been advanced on the drivers of economic growth in U.S. urban areas.  Is growth driven by a high tech and software developing knowledge economy or by the physical production arising from regional resource wealth?   Learn more  about these competing perspectives.    
  
BEST PRACTICES FOR GREEN ROOFS
City of Toronto planners have produced a new resource called “Guidelines for Biodiverse Green Roofs http://urbantoronto.ca/news/2013/03/new-guidelines-aim-improve-toronto-green-roofs-and-city” which details best practices to assist architects in integrating biodiversity into green roof design.  
 

COMPARING GLOBAL CITIES ON iPad    
A new iPad app has been developed that combines data from some 2,600 cities. The free Urban World app developed by the McKinsey Global Institute, provides a wide range of economic data and analysis tools. 

FINLAND MODELS NEW SUSTAINABLE CITY
The City of Oulu in northern Finland, will become home to a new district. Hiukkavaara, called the “Arctic Smart City,” is a € 1.8 Billion project that incorporates a smart grid, alternative and renewable energy sources, an eco-water system and a centralized waste management system. Plans include 20,000 new homes to house 40,000 residents by 2035.   
 
TOP URBAN PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT TRENDS
The editors of Planetizen , a public interest information exchange for the urban design community, have selected the most notable recent planning and development trends

DESIGN AGENCY HELPS IMPROVE WASTE SERVICES
The Barking and Degenham Council in east London, worked with a design agency to conduct research and run workshops to identify the causes of residents’ frustration and confusion with waste services.  More than 70 new ideas have been implemented, with an initial cost savings of £20,000.    

CHATHAM-KENT STREAMLINES POLICE SERVICES
The Chatham-Kent Police Service in Southwestern Ontario, has worked with Xerox Canada to save money, increase efficiency and enable officers to spend more time in community neighbourhoods.  Learn more about the Service’s internal review and the new technology-assisted streamlined processes.
 
CITY OF FREDERICTON ADOPTS SHARED RISK PENSION MODEL
After months of union/management collaboration and the assistance of the New Brunswick Task Force on Protecting Pensions, the City of Fredericton has adopted a Shared Risk Pension Plan that ensures both sustainability and affordability.  The city’s current defined benefit plan will be converted to the new model, effective March 31, 2013.   Changes under the new risk model will affect active members, pensioners and surviving spouses.  
     
SMART IDEAS FOR CITY PARTNERSHIPS     
In order to meet overall urban economic and quality of life objectives, it is critical to ensure that separate city systems operated both publicly and by the private sector, work cooperatively.  UK local authorities and related public sector agencies are finding that the key consideration is building partnerships based on common understanding and consensus.  
  
OTHER DEVELOPMENTS TOP U.S. TECH CITIES
A U.S. research company, PrivCo, has ranked the top metropolitan areas based on acquisitions of privately held technology companies in 2012.  The top ranking goes to Silicon Valley, followed New York City and Boston.   

TOP WOMEN URBAN INFLUENCERS
A recent Next City article outlines some key women  who are making a difference through their leadership in urban planning and development initiatives.

SPANISH CITY GOES DIGITAL 
While cities such as Amsterdam, Barcelona, Birmingham, Dubai and San Diego share the goal  of becoming “smart cities,” the City of Santander, Spain  currently uses systems of sensors to measure a wide range of data generated by city services, for analysis by a central computer, to enable optimization of service delivery and the development of smart phone apps for citizen use.    

ATHENS REVAMPS DOWNTOWN      
Notwithstanding Greece’s fiscal austerity, the City of Athens is planning large scale urban cultural renaissance projects and has undertaken a scheme called Rethink Athens to create new green areas in city squares and along pedestrian boulevards to encourage residents to return to the downtown core. 

FARMERS FOR CHICAGO PROGRAM    
A new recruiting program, “Farmers for Chicago,” announced by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will feature the South Chicago Farm as part of the city’s new incubator network to make land available for farmer training.  The farm site will contain walking trails and community gardens to develop urban agriculture.  The Farmers for Chicago program will educate up to 100 farmers annually.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS    WINNERS OF MAYOR BLOOMBERG’S CHALLENGE PRIZES
Winners have been announced in New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s $9 million Mayor’s Challenge, initiated by Bloomberg Philanthropies. There are five prize winners for initiatives including recycling, data analytics, civic entrepreneurship and resident well-being. Providence, Rhode Island received a $5 million grand prize for early childhood education innovations.

PERSPECTIVES ON MUNICIPAL ROLE IN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
The ICMA Center for Management Strategies has completed a review of a Governing Magazine article, “The Coming Decade of Local Government” (Bob O’Neill) and a new book “The Coming Jobs War” (Jim Clifton) which concludes that there are reasons for optimism regarding local economic development.

SOME THOUGHTS ON DIGITAL LOCAL PUBLIC SERVICES
A recent article published on the “Knowledge Hub" offers some views on the digital climate for local public service, some requisite capabilities and principles for the operation of local digital networks.

VIEWS ON WHAT MAKES CITIES GREAT
A recent interview with David Dixon of Boston’s Goody Clancy architects, yields some perspectives on cities, neighbourhoods and sustainability based on the experience of U.S. and world cities.

ARE MIXED USE NEIGHBOURHOODS SAFER?
While neighbourhoods with a mix of residential, office and retail space yield a range of quality of life and environmental benefits, they may also be effective in increasing community safety. A new University of Pennsylvania Law Review study of high crime areas in Los Angeles, found that zoning provisions that added residential uses to commercial areas led to a drop in crime rates.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS HIGH TECH CODE ENFORCEMENT
A start-up company, CityScan , integrates public information on local codes with street mapping technology to offer regulatory oversight to municipalities to supplement local enforcement efforts. The company is in negotiations with eleven U.S. cities to share in code enforcement revenue in exchange for issuing infraction notices on behalf of a municipality.  

FINANCING FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING
A recent study, “Innovative Financing of Affordable Housing,” (Gibb, Maclennan and Stephens) assesses emerging themes in financing affordable housing and suggests practices to expand housing supply.  The study focuses on long term housing needs and reduction of market volatility, in the context of housing taxation and a wider market role for the rented sector. 

URBAN INNOVATION IN ASIA
A recent study (Solidiance) identifies the most productive cities in the Asian Pacific Region to assess the most attractive locations for business development. Measures are established for assessing levels of innovation  and  for selecting the top ranked cities.   

CITY OF FRESNO GENERAL PLAN
The updated City of Fresno General Plan is designed to redirect critical public and private investment to a more sustainable model of urban growth.  Key elements of the new growth model are downtown revitalization, transit oriented development and investment in underserved neighbourhoods. 

GREENWORKS PHILADELPHIA
The City of Philadelphia Office of Sustainability “Greenworks Philadelphia” plan contains targets and metrics in fourteen areas to reduce both the city’s own energy consumption and consumption in all city buildings.  Public and private stakeholders have joined together to contribute to a wide range of initiatives including the creation of the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub and the adoption of an energy benchmarking and disclosure ordinance for large commercial buildings.  
 

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS LONDON BICYCLE STRATEGY
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, has introduced a new billion pound plan, “The Mayor’s Vision for Cycling in London,” that revitalizes cycling in the city and responds to the input of cycling advocates. Funds will be spent over a period of 10 years and plans include reduced road space for cars to create separated cycle routes.

WORLD CITY LOGO DESIGNS
City logo designs often reflect cultural backgrounds and political, economic and social considerations. Learn more about some recently designed and redesigned city logos that reflect a city’s history and its main economic activities.

PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING
As participatory budgeting initiatives emerge in the U.S., there is considerable debate on how broadly or narrowly they should be defined. Experience with the process in Brazil and the UK provides some perspectives on the characteristics of participatory budgeting.

THE LONDON OF THE FUTURE
The City of London, “Smart London Board,” is composed of a group academic and business leaders who will examine how technology and data can make the city a better place to live and work. The city’s efforts align with other developments including engineering firm Arup’s report on predicting the future of buildings, smart city innovations in Songdo, South Korea and the IBM Smart Cities initiatives.

TED IDEAS FOR CITIES
In January, 2013, the non-profit Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) launched their new City 2.0 website that showcases award-winning urban innovations from around the globe.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS WHO RECOGNIZES OTTAWA AS AN AGE-FRIENDLY CITY
The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially designated the City of Ottawa as a member of its Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities, in recognition of its collaboration with the Council on Aging on the Age-Friendly Ottawa initiative

FARE-FREE TRANSIT
The City of Tallinn, capital of Estonia, earlier this year became the largest city in the world to make its transit system free, reflecting an emerging European trend to fare-free transit.  The City of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, instituted fare-free transit in 2002.  Learn more about Chapel Hill’s community-based decision and how the transit system operates.    
  
THE ROLE OF ANCHOR INSTITUTIONS 
Higher education, health and cultural institutions play important roles in the success of cities as shown through The Integration Initiative sites in U.S. cities.  A leading example of how these sites can transform cities, can be found in Cleveland and its University Hospitals Vision 2012 Program.

THE BEST CITIES FOR URBAN FORESTS
While the term “urban forests” may appear to be contradictory, there is now a recognition that urban parkland and trees not only beautify cities but also mitigate the effects of climates and reduce erosion.  Learn more about the ten best U.S. cities for urban forests.    

A BUSINESS CASE FOR INCENTIVES 
While there continues to be an ongoing debate among economists and governments regarding the value of incentives in economic development, they are often viewed as a necessity for companies that struggle to compete.  Some communities have shown that these public subsidies to create wealth can be a component of a successful economic development strategy, in addressing cost of doing business issues and diversifying local economies.

FINDING THE RIGHT KIND OF DENSITY
A new book called “Made for Walking ” (Julie Campoli) published by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, addresses the elements of city neighbourhoods that make them attractive and sustainable.  The book outlines and illustrates both development and design principles that lead to successful urban neighbourhoods.                 
OTHER DEVELOPMENTS FROM PARKING TO PUBLIC SPACE
The Porch plaza , which opened in Philadelphia in 2011, replaced an underutilized parking area near the city’s central Amtrak Station. The 28,000 square foot plaza project, undertaken by a non-profit stakeholder group, University City District, hosts music performances, a farmers’ market and cultural events.

CITY TRANSFORMS SERVICES  
Derby City in the UK, has reopened its Council House, as part of its service transformation plan.  The refurbished building, with its inclusive customer services area, enabled the city to vacate nine other council buildings.  A wide ranging and innovative ICT program and layers of technology from new hardware platforms and updated communications links allows staff, visitors and partner organizations to connect to services from anywhere within the Council House and enables staff telecommuting from home or from remote site locations.    

EXPLORING VICTORIA’S DOCKSIDE GREEN 
Some refer to the City of Victoria’s Dockside Green community as the greenest development in the world.  Residential phases in the neighbourhood have earned LEED platinum ratings and in one case, a new world record for the highest LEED building score ever achieved.

NYC CREATES PERMANENT AFFORDABLE HOUSING 
New York City officials have broken ground on the first of two residential buildings in Queens that will become the largest new affordable housing complex to be built in the city since the 1970s.  The project, which will create 925 permanent affordable housing units, with transportation links, parks and school facilities, supplements the city’s down payment assistance program for aspiring homeowners.    

NEW UK AFFORDABLE RENT MODEL    
A new report focused on London social tenants, “Home-Work,” proposes a social housing funding model  that encourages employment, provides  stable homes for life and yields a new income of £ 250m yearly for social landlords. 

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS URBAN PLANNING “PINT OF MILK” TEST
A recent SustainableCitiesCollective article  reports on the concept of the “pint of milk test,” contained in a report, “Beyond 2010:  A Holistic Approach to Road Safety in Great Britain,” as a planning standard for all new developments, where a resident can get to a shop to buy a pint of milk within a period of 10 minutes without using a car.     

MEASURING DIVERSITY IN U.S. NEIGHBOURHOODS       
A recent real estate firm analysis of U.S. neighbourhoods based on ethnicity data from the 100 largest metropolitan area zip codes, has found that the most diverse neighbourhoods are suburban.  The research includes a diversity analysis of entire metropolitan areas and maps showing the ranges of diversity in various jurisdictions.   

NYC MIDTOWN REZONING PROPOSAL 
A recent New York City administration rezoning proposal for the east Midtown area of the city, would encourage developers to increase building density and the assembly of sites for new office towers.  In return for greater density, developers would pay for pedestrian and subway improvements.  Learn more about the new approach and the controversy it has raised with regard to landmark preservation.  
  
PAYING FOR TRANSPORTATION
Gas taxes, as user fees that connect those that use road and transit networks with their construction and maintenance costs, have not provided sufficient revenue to keep pace with required expenditures.  Now, some jurisdictions are looking  at supplementary revenue sources beyond the gas tax user pay principle.   

MapTube   
MapTube  is a free UK-based resource for viewing, sharing, mixing and mashing maps online.  Users can select from a range of map subjects to overlay and view.
 
OTHER DEVELOPMENTS   
 

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