Innovation News, September 2013

INNOVATIVE POLICIES THAT EVERY CITY SHOULD CONSIDER
In many jurisdictions, cities have emerged as the centres of meaningful government change. The U.S. Center for an Urban Future, a New York City based think tank, has compiled a list  of the most innovative policies that have been adopted by cities.  

STOCKHOLM – A PLANNER’S MODEL CITY
Stockholm, Sweden, recognized broadly for its beauty and cultural assets, also boasts the status of one of the world’s most livable cities.  Stockholm’s economy and ever growing population prompted city officials to assess it challenges and update its plan to preserve its historical assets and the interconnectedness of its neighbourhoods.

NEW YORK CITY CONSIDERS INVESTING IN URBAN RESILIENCE
New York City, one of the world’s leading urban areas, is a global hub for commerce and industry throughout the world.  However, as Superstorm Sandy demonstrated, the metropolitan area is vulnerable to widespread damage to infrastructure, residents and businesses.  A recent study by consulting engineers Arup, RPA and Siemans examines the vulnerabilities of New York’s electrical grid and necessary mitigation measures.  
 
THE NEW NORMAL FOR PUBLIC SAFETY SERVICE DELIVERY
The fiscal challenges faced by municipalities over the past four years have led to a comprehensive rethinking by U.S. and Canadian cities about how they operate across the board.  While public safety activities have largely been immune to close scrutiny, city managers are now assessing the internal operation of fire and police services because their costs prevent achievement of overall balanced budgets.  A recent ICMA paper  investigates opportunities for public safety cost reductions.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS WAYS CITIES ARE USING BIG DATA
New York City has recently released to the public some 200 high value data sets and cities of all sizes across the world are sharing data related to traffic, energy consumption, GIS mapping and other topics, to increase transparency and encourage app development.  Learn more about some examples of projects launched to help communities.

NEW YORK UNIVERSITY OPENS URBAN SCIENCE FACILITY
New York University together with public and private partners, has opened the Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP), a new research facility devoted to the “science of cities” and “urban informatics.”

STATEN ISLAND LANDFILL BECOMES URBAN PARK
Staten Island’s Fresh Kills Landfill, which operated between 1947 and 2001, is being reengineered to become an innovative urban park. The project involves capping piles of garbage, selling off methane gas to a local utility and development of structured play spaces, event venues, bike trails and wildlife habitats.

THE FATE OF U.S. CITIES IN THE NEW ECONOMY
Five years after the financial crash,  the U.S. economy showing signs of return to steady growth. A recent article in The Atlantic assesses how specific metro economies are responding to a more normal level of growth.    

REGION  OF YORK WASTE MANAGEMENT BLUEPRINT
The SM4RT Living Integrated  Waste Management Master Plan will move the Regional Municipality of York toward its goal of zero waste. The first five year cycle of the plan, which is just beginning, includes seventeen pilot projects and programs.    

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS EDMONTON IMPROVES ACCESS TO GOVERNMENT DATA
The City of Edmonton is working with the Alberta and Federal Governments and other major Canadian cities to implement a new Open Government Licence.  The new licence will provide greater transparency and will give citizens consistent terms for accessing and using government data.      

WHAT IS THE REAL IMPACT OF CITY MAYORS?
Mayors have typically been elected to ensure that city services are delivered effectively, but there is a growing list of urban professionals that contend city leaders have larger role to play in finding solutions to more broadly based issues.  As cities become home to over one half of the world’s population, their leadership in finding urban solutions is, in a practical sense, addressing global challenges.  Learn more about some examples of city-scale innovation.     

WATERFRONT TORONTO BUILDS A SMARTER CITY
Waterfront Toronto and IBM business partner, Element Blue, have announced a new collaboration that will use cloud computing and social business software, services and technologies to create platform that has multiple data sources and real-time visualizations of information to improve tracking of community systems that impact residents.       

USING TECHNOLOGY TO IMPROVE URBAN QUALITY OF LIFE
While recent specific examples show that urban data and technology can help improve the quality of life in cities, it is less clear how these efforts can work across the range of city systems or respond to the range of urban environments and cultures.  A recent article by The Urban Technologist suggest one approach to tackling these issues.

CRIME AND THE ECONOMY    
A recent Atlantic Cities article examines some recently released crime statistics in the U.S. to assess the relationship between crime and the economy.    

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS REENGINEERING CITY SYSTEMS
Emerging city technology, the data movement and systems-change initiatives are bringing about greater speed and efficiency through new tools to solve urban challenges.  Learn more about ways to use these tools to develop new systems for decision making.     

THE CITY ECONOMY
A new report by the Centre for Cities, a London, UK based urban think tank, assesses spatial patterns of economic growth in 63 of the largest UK cities.  The report demonstrates that these economies are becoming less concentrated, with specific consequences for future economic performance.  
 
U.S. CITY INNOVATION  SCHOOL
In 2011, the Mayor of Denver introduced the Peak Academy, the city’s first innovation school.  Based on the concept that sharing ideas is the key to high quality services at the lowest cost,  the initiative creates a culture of innovation among city employees.    

HOW PUBLIC SAFETY TECHNOLOGY AIDS IN CRIME PREVENTION      
In a recent video, leaders from IBM and the Center for Criminology and Research discuss how technology helps in crime prevention and investigation, that can lead to both greater citizen satisfaction and economic growth.  

LEED PROJECT PROFILES DATABASE
The Canada Green Building Council has launched an online database that celebrates Canada’s achievements in green buildings.  This new tool showcases over 4000 LEED projects currently registered and certified in Canada.  

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS MOVING TO GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE
This past summer, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission held a watershed planning charette to introduce the public to both green and grey stormwater management technologies.  Learn more about some specific stormwater management tools that relate to water infiltration, slow release to the sewer system, reuse and redirecting water flows.  

ECONOMIC EFFECTS OF STREETCARS VS BRT
While city officials often describe the benefits of public transit for economic development, it is less clear about the specific economic effects of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) versus streetcars.  A recent Atlantic Cities article finds an imbalance of evidence to support the economic effects of each mode of transit.   

EXAMPLES OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT OPEN DATA USE 
The practice of governments opening up data for public use is very popular and has led to widespread app development by data users, related to service delivery, urban transit, public engagement and a wide variety of other community interests.  Learn more about some open data uses in the UK. 

A MISSING METRIC OF SMART GROWTH      
An article by planning professional Peter Katz, outlines his perspectives on fiscal analytics and growth management. Citing specific development examples, Katz contends that there is a “missing metric,” i.e. the number of years it takes property taxes to pay back a municipality’s upfront investment in support for a new project.

ONTARIO LAUNCHES LOCAL FOOD FUND
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne recently announced a $30 million Local Food Fund to invest in projects related to local food networks, minor capital initiatives, research and best practices and local food promotion and education.  The Ontario Municipal Knowledge Network (OMKN) has recently developed some specific guidance for municipalities on local food practices
 
CANADA AS A SUBURBAN NATION 
A new national study has found that 67 per cent of Canadians, or 22.4 million people, live in suburban neighbourhoods. These communities typically consist of low density housing and have a dependency on cars. Up to 88 per cent of residents who live in the country’s 33 metropolitan areas call the suburbs home.

ASSESSING BOSTON’S OFFICE OF NEW URBAN MECHANICS
The City of Boston’s efforts to assign priority to Mayor Menino’s Office of New Urban Mechanics has led to significant improvements in both service delivery and the related level of taxpayer satisfaction.  Learn more about a recent case study of the city’s efforts and its focus on citizen engagement and participation.  
     
C.D. HOWE STUDY IDENTIFIES INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECT RISKS
A new C.D. Howe Institute study contends that the costs of public sector investments in infrastructure projects are underestimated and should reflect the risk to taxpayers.  The study assesses the implications for public investments and relevant public policies.    
 
CFIB CALLS FOR PUBLIC SECTOR PENSION REFORM 
A new Confederation of Independent Business (CFIB) report compares the pension benefits in private and public sector pension plans and has identified that public sector plan benefits far exceed private sector plans, where they exist.  The report calls for specific pension reforms to address benefit gaps.    

INTERNATIONAL MAKING CITIES LIVABLE CONFERENCE
The 2013 International Making Cities Livable Conference featured presentations from three major cities focusing on reviewing city codes, city center design and redevelopment and  the creation of “suburban towns.”   
FIVE TRENDS IMPACTING U.S. CITIES
A recent report, “State of the City:  5 Trends Impacting U.S. Cities,” examines solutions for complex challenges arising from dominant trends that will impact urban areas.  Solutions to these challenges will require partnerships, innovations in financing and the application of technology to increase the efficiency of strategies.

CALGARY PLANNER’S PERSPECTIVES ON SUBURBS  
The City of Calgary Chief Planner, Rollin Stanley, advocates new approaches to managing the urban-suburban divide by focusing on complete communities where young people, families and retirees can live, work and play.  
   
WHAT MAKES A GREAT CITY?    
Projections are that by 2030, 60 per cent of the world’s population or 5 billion people will live in cities, compared to 3.6 billion today.  A new report, “How to make a city great,” assesses case studies in world cities to identify key initiatives that cities need to do well to improve economic, environmental and social outcomes.     
CREATIVE IDEAS TO MAKE BETTER CITIES
Since 2009, Urban Omnibus   has been collecting broadly based ideas to make cities better places to live.  A recent publication has compiled 50 of the most creative ideas to make cities more livable.

THE “AMBIDEXTROUS CITY”
Civic leadership requires a focus on resolving today’s issues, while anticipating future challenges. A recent publication prepared in conjunction with the Ash Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School provides a snapshot of the top of mind issues that concern urban leaders.  
  
OTHER DEVELOPMENTS MUNICIPAL LEADERSHIP IN PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT
The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) has completed a study of the performance measurement experiences of larger North American cities and counties, that have shown leadership in advanced performance measurement practices.  The report outlines both the value perceived by governments and the key factors for success.  
   
GLOBALLY FLUENT METROS
The Brookings Institution has documented ten characteristics of global metropolitan areas which have been shown to be strong determinants of a metro area’s ability to succeed in global markets and manage the consequences of globalization to secure economic futures. 

TEN REASONS CITIES NEED URBAN PLANNING      
Urban planning leverages sustainable development and assists in setting medium and long term objectives to meet a city’s strategic objectives.  Learn more http://urbantimes.co/magazine/2013/07/ten-reasons-cities-need-urban-planning/ about ten key reasons urban planning can make a difference to successful cities.    
 

TOP WEBSITES FOR CITY BUILDERS
A list has been developed of twenty websites that take a broad and comprehensive perspective on city building by incorporating traditional urban planning, technology, cultural and other fields that support urban communities. 

RICHMOND, B.C. SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY        
The City of Richmond, B.C. has approved a new Social Development Strategy to guide social programs through the next decade.  The strategy addresses the needs of the city’s growing, aging and diverse population and contains initiatives to meet nine strategic goals.  

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS USING GAMIFICATION TO ENGAGE CITIZENS 
Gaming principles are now being incorporated into both public and private sector initiatives aimed at engaging people online in real activities.  Learn more about how gamification can enable a new relationship between a government and its citizens and employees.  

THE SOCIAL LIFE OF CITIES  
The Social Life of Cities” is a series of articles providing perspectives on innovation from cities around the world.  These articles include examination of practical projects in a range of cities that explore new approaches to placemaking and the use of digital technology to support urban social life.

LEADING CITIES RECEIVE C40 CLIMATE LEADERSHIP AWARDS
Ten cities have been announced as winners of the C40 and Siemens City Climate Leadership Awards. The winning cities represent  the best projects in a range of sustainability and leadership categories.     

THE MULTIPLEXED METROPOLIS
Local government data collection and technological integration is the foundation of “smart cities,” boasting projects that relate to a wide range of urban service delivery improvements.  While the advent of the “second electrification” of the world metropolises has demonstrated clear benefits, it is not without its critics.
   
POP-UP URBAN DESIGNS
Temporary construction to enliven public spaces, or pop-up design projects, demonstrates how space can be designed or repurposed.  These projects can  lead to permanent changes in the way people inhabit their neighbourhoods.  Learn more about some UK examples of these initiatives.  

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS NEW URBAN GROWTH AREA GUIDEBOOK
The Washington State Department of Commerce has issued a new Urban Growth Area Guidebook, that provides guidance to local governments on how to designate Urban Growth areas consistent with the state’s Growth Management Act (GMA).  The new publication stresses the need to align growth areas with a Capital Facilities Plan (CFP) to provide cost effective urban services.   

SAN DEIGO COUNTY FACES DEVELOPMENT DILEMMA
A new residential development proposal to build some 1700 new homes on 600 acres of agricultural land 54 miles north of San Diego, has raised serious environmental questions. The developer is attempting to change the current agricultural planning designation and zoning provisions to enable the development, which is being marketed as the “I-15 sustainable community.”  Learn more about the context for this proposal.    

WAYS TO CREATE CITIZEN ENGAGEMENT  
Citizen engagement presents challenges to governments in meeting expectations of improved service delivery. A recent EngagingCities article examines the core elements of successful engagement and approaches to building foundations to modernize government relations.  

STOCKHOLM’S HOUSING CHALLENGES
Sweden’s production costs for new housing are the highest in the European Union and developers are critical of the red tape, policies and planning appeals that often delay construction. Nowhere is this situation more evident than in the redevelopment of the Royal Seaport in Stockholm.   

SASKATOON TACKLES WORKPLACE ABSENTEEISM
The City of Saskatoon has made workforce health and safety a top priority to meet its goal of continuous improvement.  Learn more  about how the city tracks and reports absenteeism and its comprehensive approach to reducing absenteeism in the workplace.   

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS NEW STREETMIX APP
A new app, Streetmix, from Code for America, enables users to mix and match sections of a hypothetical street to design options for driving and turning lanes, bus lanes, bike lanes, transit, sidewalks, parklets and street furniture.  The purpose of the app is to allow visualization of proposed changes to streets and to engage citizens in local planning processes.  

ASSESSING URBAN GHG EMISSIONS
Some recent research from Dalhousie University in Canada (Jeffrey Wilson) has employed a unique approach to isolate housing and transportation emissions of individuals in the Halifax region of Nova Scotia.  The research found that individuals in the region’s exurbs, on average, were responsible for more emissions than their inner city or suburban counterparts.   

TURNING DATA INTO 3D MAPS  
DataAppeal, a data visualization company, has showcased a web platform that facilitates the upload of locational data files to enable creation of visually unique 3D animated maps. Learn more about the kinds of maps people are creating. 

HOW UK CITIES ARE COPING WITH CLIMATE CHANGE
A recent research report on the state of climate change in 30 cities in the UK demonstrate greater progress than in many U.S and Canadian cities.  The key differences relate to the setting of specific carbon emission reduction targets and time frames.    

USING ANALYTICS TO IMPROVE LOCAL SERVICES 
Miami-Dade County is using advanced technology and data analytics to reduce and prevent crime.  Sensors and facial recognition technology tied to mounted cameras in parks and other public areas can be used to spot know offenders and analytics combined with sensors can assist in assessment of historical data  with current data to enable real time adjustments in controlling traffic flow.  


 

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Bruce McLeod
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