Innovation News December 2013

HOBOKEN, N.J. TO BECOME FLOOD MITIGATION MODEL
The Hoboken, New Jersey experience with Superstorm Sandy  has led to the city’s advocacy for better planning for flood-prone areas and revised flood insurance and relief regulations that reflect urban realities.  The city is leading in the development flood mitigation measures, in examining a range of building code provisions to protect electrical systems from flooding and in considering a micro-grid to support emergency services during flood recovery.    

LA TURNS PARKING LOT INTO A PARK  
The City of Los Angeles 50 Parks Initiative, launched in 2012 is focused on transforming underutilized properties into recreational space.  Learn more http://thisbigcity.net/the-los-angeles-park-that-used-to-be-a-parking-lot/ about the program and the 16th park to open on a former parking lot site.

MIT CENTER FOR ADVANCED URBANISM  
The new Center for Advanced Urbanism http://cau.mit.edu/ at MIT combines the efforts of the University’s planning, architecture and engineering faculties to examine the practical realities and impacts of choices related to urban growth.  A key initial project with both the American Institute of Architects and the Clinton Global Initiative is assessing urbanism and local health.  

HOW CITIES WILL INTERACT WITH CITIZENS  
Crowdsourcing, mobile applications, sensors and analytics will enable municipal governments to better interact with their citizens and respond to their needs.  Learn more  about how cities will become smarter in predicting problems and tailoring service delivery.

THE SMOG VACUUM
A Dutch designer, Daan Roosegaarde, has developed an electronic “vacuum cleaner” for smog that uses coils of copper to create an electrostatic field to pull smog particles to the ground where they are captured and compressed.  

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS RESOURCES ON MUNICIPAL BANKRUPTCIES  
The Pew Charitable Trusts has developed some new resources that provide information on municipal bankruptcy generally and the challenges that face Detroit specifically.

HALIFAX REGIONAL MUNICIPALITY BRANDING PROJECT
The Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) is moving forward in its branding project by launching DefineHalifaxRegion.com, a website that provides the public with an opportunity to provide feedback and learn more about the importance branding to the region.  The HRM is clarifying its brand in order to compete globally for investment and talent.   

BLOOMBERG TO LEAD “URBAN SWAT TEAM”
After New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg leaves office, he will open a new consultancy called Bloomberg Associates, that will consist of an urban SWAT team that can be deployed at the invitation of local governments to solve a wide range of urban challenges.  Like the Mayor’s many philanthropic initiatives, the effort will be financed by the Mayor’s personal resources, at no charge to clients.  
 
WINNIPEG INTERGENERATIONAL AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROJECT
A new 92 unit affordable housing project in Winnipeg will enable different generations of families to have homes in a single complex. The project offers needed quality and affordable housing and support for seniors who need at-home care.

LOW CARBON CITIES
A new UK report offers examples of pragmatic and proven approaches developed by cities in the UK and around the globe that are directed towards green economies.  The report covers tools such as business support, regulation, procurement and finance.   

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS CRITICAL CHALLENGES FACING CITIES IN 2014  
A recent report  from the National League of Cities highlights the key challenges that cites will continue to face in 2014.  The report also suggests some innovative strategies to address these challenges.

NYC STATE OF THE ART RECYLCING FACILITY
City of New York officials recently announced the opening of the new state-of-the-art Sunset Park Material Recovery Facility . The waterfront barge-based facility will serve as the main processing location for all of the city’s curbside metal, glass and plastic recyclables.    

TOP 2013 BOOKS ON URBAN DESIGN
Planetizen has announced the ten best books in urban planning, design and developed published in 2013.  Books listed examine practical and theoretical lessons in urban livability and sustainability and their selection is based on editorial reviews, sales figures and recommendations from experts.  

THE USE OF BALLOT MEASURES TO DRIVE INVESTMENT
In the U.S., both elected leaders and voters are reaching some consensus on the value of public investment in economies to address economic challenges.  Consequently, states and metropolitan areas are assessing ways to finance large scale initiatives, including ballot measures (legislative referendums or citizen-based efforts) to secure capital funding.      

ALBERTA GOVERNMENT TO DEFINE ROLE FOR CALGARY AND EDMONTON
Ken Hughes, Alberta’s new Minister of Municipal Affairs, has announced his intention to transform the relationship between the province and the Cities of Calgary and Edmonton, as a priority.   The province agreed in principle in 2012 to negotiate charters with Alberta’s two major cities.     

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS NYC, THE BIG GREEN APPLE
New York City, with its one million buildings, has become one of the most energy efficient cities in the U.S.  The city’s PlaNYC Green Greater Building Plan is a key example of the commitment to energy conservation in both new construction and renovations.   

SMARTER STREETSCAPES
With the current predominant focus on smart urbanization, it is easy to overlook the special problems presented by lower density, auto-dependent suburbs and their different challenges in revitalization.  Learn more about the pragmatic efforts of the South Miami Hometown District in moving to smarter revitalization.  
   
30 IMPRESSIVE SOCIAL HOUSING PROJECTS
Despite many examples of minimalist design public housing projects, it is possible to provide low cost, well-designed housing to those in need.  A collection of 30 social housing projects  from across the world illustrate innovative, interesting energy conscious project designs.    

FORECASTING CITY GROWTH    
The authors of a study published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface have found what they think are some simple rules that guide the growth of cities.  Study results could assist local governments to predict infrastructure needs as urban areas grow. 

CHANGING U.S. URBAN TRAVEL PATTERNS
A new report, Transportation in Transition:  A Look at Changing Patterns in America’s Biggest Cities,  demonstrates that Americans are driving less per person and using transit to a greater extent in large metropolitan areas.  The report also supports the need to develop communities that are more suitable to alternative modes of transportation.    
 
OTHER DEVELOPMENTS THE RISE OF CIVIC TECHNOLOGY
The Knight Foundation recently released a report that identifies and maps over 200 government technology companies and organizations in a sector that has grown by about 24 per cent since 2008.  Private investors and foundations have supported about one half of these companies between early 2011 and the spring of 2013.

THE COST OF CYCLING    
A recent Planetizen article examines perspectives on the costs of road transportation and the specific component costs of cycling and non-motorized infrastructure, on order to shed some light on the question whether or not motorists subsidize cycling facilities.  

SMART CITIES READINESS GUIDE     
The Smart Cities Readiness Guide, prepared by the U.S. Smart Cities Council, provides the first comprehensive framework for a smart city and a basis for assessing readiness to both innovate and measure progress.     

THE GUIDE TO GREENING CITIES
A new book, The Guide to Greening Cities, outlines the perspectives of municipal sustainability officials based on their experience in advancing green city goals. The Guide provides useful advice on how practitioners work in local government bureaucracies to advocate and influence directions.

IT STRATEGIES FOR 2014
Much has happened in government technology in 2013.  Lean more about seven key trends that should be considered when planning for 2014.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
Glasgow Tests Smart Street Lights to Illuminate Crime
Manning Foundation Report on Municipal Anti-Poverty Efforts
  
MONTRÉAL BOARD OF TRADE REPORT ON CREATIVE INDUSTRIES
In early December, the Board of Trade for Metropolitan Montreal released a study on creative industries (e.g. arts, media, fashion and advertising) and their economic benefits.  Critical factors to support these activities include cultural diversity, universities and other institutions.

PEEL REGION APPROVES TEN YEAR HOMELESSNESS PLAN
Peel Regional Council has approved a ten year Housing and Homelessness Plan to improve the availability of the Region’s stock of safe, affordable and accessible housing.  Implementation of the plan will begin in 2014.

EIGHT EPIC CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS
Learn more about eight of the world’s most costly and time consuming construction projects and the number of years it took or is taking to complete them.   

INNOVATIVE URBAN FOOD PARK
Plans are on the drawing board for a new Urban Food Park in St. Petersburg, with a target start date in the Spring of 2014.   The project will include a commercial urban vegetable farm, a food museum, hydroponic and aquaponic farms, butterfly and vegetable gardens and a business incubator.

ROCKEFELLER FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES 33 RESILIENT CITIES
Selection of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge was recently announced.  The first group of cities selected are those that demonstrated capacity to prepare for, withstand and recover from shocks and stresses.    

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS BRISTOL’S ECONOMIC GROWTH
The City of Bristol in the UK has one of the most productive economies, based on its advanced manufacturing and aerospace industries.  Bristol also has a strong record of new business start-ups that reflects a high level of skills in the city’s population.

THE POTENTIAL OF OPEN GOVERNMENT
Open data increases the public’s knowledge of the operation of government.  Learn more about the perspectives of nine experts in realizing the potential of open government initiatives.

SOME THOUGHTS ON URBAN DESIGN
Tim Stoner, a consultant who advises governments and private investors on city design, has compliled some guidelines that have general application to cities in a variety of settings, to improve both quality of life and safety.  

NEIGHBOURHOOD PREFERENCES
The U.S. National Association of Realtors (NAR) has recently released the latest version of its Consumer Preference Survey, that provides insight into the characteristics that people look for in their communities and the trade-offs that they are willing to make to live in preferred locations.  

CHICAGO PURSUES PENSION FUNDING DEAL
City of Chicago officials, buoyed by the State of Illinois landmark legislation trimming its workers’ retirement benefits, is trying to reach a compromise with labour representatives on future funding of city staff pensions, to avoid doubling property taxes and/or eliminating vital services.     

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS       SMALLER CITY REVITALIZATION
While the City of Fredericton’s  Main Street has a generic strip mall feel, it has proximity to the city’s scenic riverfront and also has the potential for developing into a mixed-use, walkable downtown neighbourhood.   These factors have made the Main Street Urban Design Plan a priority in promoting arts and culture and creating a unique and attractive neighbourhood.    

NEW 3-D TOOL TRANSFORMS STREET PLANNING
A Portland-based video designer has developed a three-dimensional, zoomable, animated tool, to simulate how different street design options would look and feel, as a low cost way for cities to assess design layouts.  

CITY OF OTTAWA  IMPROVES MANAGEMENT OVERSIGHT
The City of Ottawa has addressed recommendations contained in a 2012 Audit Report to strengthen management oversight and practices in finding efficiencies and streamlining operations.

CORRELATING DRIVING INFRACTIONS AND OTHER CRIME
Gabe Klein, Chicago’s outgoing Transportation Commissioner, believes that cites should pay closer attention  to the link between drivers who break the law and other kinds of crime.  The U.S. Departments of Transportation and Justice are examining this linkage and other research has found that traffic calming measures bring more people to the streets, a factor that deters criminal activity.      

AUCKLAND’S PUBLIC TRANSPORT NETWORK DESIGN    
The new plan for public transport design seeks to remove inefficiencies and increase mobility. Learn more about the proposed plan and improvements that will improve service at current cost levels.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS  

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