Innovation News January, 2014

MIDDLESEX COUNTY TO USE TECHNOLOGY FOR SERVICE DELIVERY
Middlesex County is exploring cutting edge technology that can be put in place in key locations to provide self-service opportunities to residents while maintaining face-to-face interaction for service provision.  The objective is to offer services remotely to enable savings for both service providers and clients.

LEADING U.S. CITIES IN PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION  
Walk Score has recently issued its new ranking of the best U.S. cities for public transit.  Learn more about how the cities ranked overall.

DESIGNS FOR RESILIENT CITIES
Winners of an international design competition for building resilient cities have found unique solutions to climate change and devastating storms.  The competition assessed design approaches that use storm proofing to rethink the future of cities.

NEW WEBSITE DEVOTED TO THE FUTURE OF WORLD CITIES
The Guardian (UK) recently launched a new website, Guardian Cities, as an open platform for critical discussion and debate about challenges facing the world’s metropolitan centers.  Topics include the future of housing, transportation, public space and infrastructure, planning, governance, energy and security. 
 
ANALYZING URBAN FOOT TRAFFIC  
In the late 1970’s, British architects Bill Hillier and Julienne Hanson determined that space in urban areas can be analyzed in terms of connectivity and movement and that a city’s success is very dependent on the ease with which people can move about on foot.  They also recognized that a city’s geometry affected movement more than any other design factor.  Learn how the notion of space syntax affects urban design.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
THE IMPACTS OF MILLENNIALS
The Millennial generation has been the subject of great deal of research and analysis but the media, marketing professionals and academics.  A new survey of millennials (born January 1983 and after) conducted by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, provides some perspectives on what this generation expects in their careers.       

THE USE OF POLICE CAMERAS
A wide range of police services are adapting technology and data analytics to their operation, including the use of body-worn cameras that record police interactions with the public and arrests.  Learn more about experience with this technology.
 
TACKLING AFFORDABLE HOUSING
The National League of Cities (NLC) has issued a report on the ten most critical issues confronting U.S. cities.  One of these priorities is the need for more affordable housing and creative approaches to support and stimulate affordable housing.

MONTREAL’S NEW CITY PRACTICES
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre’s administration has a new focus on measuring effectiveness and efficiency in the city’s service delivery.  A new unit has been established to transform organizational performance and reduce costs.   

WATER SENSITIVE URBAN DESIGN
A film commissioned by the UK Landscape Institute addresses water shortage, flooding and pollution in cities and explains the concept of designing with water when planning any new development.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
WDO ANNOUNCES TOP WASTE DIVERSION MUNICIPALITIES
Waste Diversion Ontario (WDO) has announced the 20 municipalities in Ontario with the highest residential waste diversion rates in 2012.  The waste diversion rate is the percentage of Blue Box and other residential garbage that is kept out of landfill.  

THE FOUNDATION OF A SMART CITY
Smart cities reflect the application of technologies to the delivery of services.  A recent intelligentutility article suggests five factors that are key to smart city planning.

GUELPH BUILDS FIRST NORTH AMERICAN DISTRICT ENERGY NETWORK   
The City of Guelph new high-efficiency heating and cooling system in the Sleeman Centre in the downtown, is an initial step in building North America’s first city-wide district energy network. The project is one of a number contained in the city’s District Energy Plan.      

FARMLAND PROTECTION

Agricultural lands preservation continues to be a major concern in Washington State’s Puget Sound region, which has lost 60 per cent of its farmland acreage since 1950.  Learn more about the role of the American Farmland Trust in preserving farmland in Washington State.

THE USE OF LANDBANKS IN BROWNFIELDS REDEVELOPMENT
Many communities are making the redevelopment of brownfields a priority to maximize growth potential in existing communities.  While there has been success in communities that have established land banks to dispose of vacant property, the use of land banks for brownfields can also be a key long term economic development approach.    

TOP STRATEGIES FOR SUSTAINABLE URBAN DEVELOPMENT
While sustainability plans reflect specific local circumstances, there are some general approaches that have broad application.  Learn more about some leading action areas and steps that urban areas can pursue to increase urban sustainability.    

SMART SNOWPLOW TECHNOLOGY
The U.S. Federal Government is developing a new tool  that uses sensors that can be attached to snowplows to predict road conditions in near real time and to identify potential problem areas.

MAKING SAN FRANCISCO HOUSING AFFORDABLE
While San Francisco housing costs are among the highest in the U.S., there are specific legislative and investment initiatives that the city can take to protect existing rent controlled units and build more affordable housing.

TOP CITIES FOR INNOVATION
Research group, 2thinkknow Innovation Cities, has identified successful city innovation among world cities, based on an assessment of a city’s cultural assets, human infrastructure and networked markets.   

RESOURCES ON NEW URBANISM
The term, “New Urbanism,” refers to an urban design concept and movement that promotes walkable neigbourhoods, mixed housing and transit oriented developments.   Learn more about some key resources related to this concept.    

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
TORONTO POLICE INCREASE SOCIAL MEDIA USE
The City of Toronto Police Service is an example of how Canadian municipalities have adopted social media faster that local governments in the U.S.  Learn more about Toronto’s successful social media policing.   

BEST PLANNING APPS FOR 2014

In December 2013, Planetizen surveyed planners from across the U.S. on their use of mobile apps in the planning profession.  A key goal of the survey was to try to understand how planners are using smart phones and mobile apps to support their work.
 
2013 DIGITAL CITIES WINNERS
Government Technology (http://www.govtech.com/) recently announced the winners of its 2013 Digital Cities awards, which recognize U.S. local governments for progress on information and communication technology practices, return on investment and ability to demonstrate innovation in leveraging creative approaches.   

HAMBURG’S GREEN NETWORK
The City of Hamburg, the 2011 European Green Capital, has announced a plan to create and link 27 square miles of new and existing green space across the city.  The initiative will increase walkability and connectivity and resilience to flooding.  

CALGARY MEASURES PROGRESS TOWARD 60 YEAR VISION
The City of Calgary recently released a monitoring report on the progress being made towards the 60 year goals outlined in the Municipal Development Plan and the Calgary Transportation Plan. The city’s progress is measured against 14 indicators developed through the PlanIt Calgary process five years ago.   

THE RISE OF SMART CITIES
Technology firms like IBM, Cisco and Siemens are actively competing for the smart city market. However, a new book, Smart Cities, (Anthony Townsend) contends that the “smart city” concept resulting from the convergence of economic forces and technological progress, means much more than the applications being marketed by tech companies.    

C.D HOWE REPORTS ON CITY FISCAL ACCOUNTABILITY         
A recent report by the C.D. Howe Institute reveals the performance of Canada’s major cities in financial transparency and reporting.  The report examines the gaps between planned spending changes and what cities presented at the end of their fiscal year.       

THE POTENTIAL OF SUBTERRANEAN CITIES

The Deep City Method (DCM) tool developed by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology enables cities to assess the potential for the use of underground space and building down.

CHALLENGES FACING LARGE JAPANESE CITIES  
Large cities in post-war Japan were the drivers of the country’s economic growth.  Now that the growth of large cities has stopped, major challenges such as the costs of upgrading aging infrastructure and rapidly aging populations signal the need for government reforms.   

BROOKLYN CONVERTS FOOD WASTE TO BIOGAS    
A pilot project at a Brooklyn wastewater treatment plant will use discarded food scraps to generate biogas to heat  more than 5,000 homes.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
AMO MUNICIPAL INNOVATION AWARDS COMPETITION
The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) has issued a Call for Submissions to Ontario municipalities to submit innovative approaches that showcase innovative and transferable initiatives related to capital projects or service delivery.  The 2014 Peter J. Marshall Award winners will be announced at the  August, 2014 AMO Conference.  2014 Entries must be received at AMO offices on or before Friday, May 2, 2014.

RICHMOND HILL ADAPTIVE STORMWATER PROJECT
The Rumble Pond Stormwater Management Facility  in Richmond Hill will turn the pond into a modern stormwater management facility with adaptable approaches to both water quantity and quantity controls.  

10 SMARTEST CITIES IN EUROPE
Many urban professionals look to European cities to learn about innovation in infrastructure development, technology application and entrepreneurship.   Learn more about  some key developments in leading European cities.  

GREENER AND HEALTHIER CITIES
In a recent SwitchBoard article, Kaid Benfield (NRDC) sets out some key principles that not only assist in moving to healthier cities, but also in enabling urban places that create both a sense of beauty and intimacy for urban residents.  
   
DESIGNING URBAN ACCESS
Development patterns in cities are key to successful urban circulation and while automobile-centred designs have prevailed in the past, the emergence of a greater focus on transit-oriented development on many world cities can lead to more sustainable urban spaces.    

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
LONDON CONGESTION CHARGE TO RISE
The congestion charge in the City of London will rise from £10 to £11.50 per day, the first increase since 2011.  The increase is scheduled to take place this summer, following a public consultation process.   

MOST POPULAR NLC ARTICLES IN 2013
In 2013, the National League of Cities (NLC) published a wide range articles and blogs on important urban issues.  Learn more about the top eight articles from last year.      

RETIREMENT SAVINGS TO SUPPORT VICTORIA AFFORDABLE HOUSING
The Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria is developing an innovative Community Investment Fund (CIF) that would enable Victoria citizens to direct a portion of their individual RRSP savings to finance new affordable housing projects in the region.  The CIF is independent of banks and investment companies.
     
NEW BRANDING TOOLKIT FOR CHATHAM-KENT
The new Chatham-Kent Branding Toolkit is an online community service designed to make it easier for businesses, community organizations and citizens to promote the community to the world.   

USING TELECOMMUNICATIONS TO STAY COMPETITIVE
State-of-the-art telecommunications are vital to urban economic health and well-being.  The Smart Cities Readiness Guide outlines the telecommunications framework that modern cities need to stay competitive.   

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS  
CITY DESIGNS TO WITHSTAND STORMS
Without taking appropriate measures, cities built next to water are at risk from water-related natural disasters.  Learn more about some designs for cities that can help withstand storms.   

CRITICAL IMPERATIVES FACING U.S. CITIES
The National League of Cities (NLC) has recently released a new report that identifies 10 critical challenges facing U.S. cities along with some innovative, remedial strategies to manage these issues.  
 
LESSONS IN PUBLIC SECTOR TECHNOLOGY USE  
The Centre for Technology in Government (CTG/U.S.) has compiled some key advice on the effective use of technology in the public sector, based on its work in implementing new ideas and concepts with a wide range of government organizations.      

NLC LAUNCHES SERVICE DELIVERY EVALUATION PROJECT
The National League of Cities is launching a new initiative to assist municipal leaders to provide core services in ways that reduce costs, improve quality and customer service and increase transparency.  

SOME KEY 2013 ENGAGING CITIES ARTICLES
Engaging Cities has recently published its 2013 most read articles that relate to citizen engagement, tactical urbanism, adapting to change and more. 

“WILD URBANISM” IN MOSCOW
A new 13 acre park in central Moscow is being developed by a team of architects, best known for their work on the High Line in Manhattan.  The Zaryadye Park, the first new park built in Moscow since 1958, is being designed to reflect the ecological diversity of Russia.

WHY MILLENNIALS ARE MOVING TO THE SUBURBS
Many urban professionals maintain that millennials (those born after 1983) are leaving the suburbs and moving back to cities, acting on their preferences for more eco-friendly urban environments.  However, a recent Forbes article contends that migration data suggest that the millennial flight from the suburbs has been exaggerated.  

PHOENIX BOOSTS ECONOMY WITH TRASH   
The City of Phoenix Public Works Department has undertaken the Reimagine Phoenix initiative, that goes beyond “reduce, reuse, recycle,” to apply various technologies to turn waste into fuel and electricity.   

THE MAKEOVER OF NEW YORK’S STREETS
A recent Atlantic Cities article  a short video that shows the impressive transformations of major streets and intersections in New York City over the last several years, that promote pedestrian traffic. 
 
NEW NYC ZONING TO PROTECT WATERFRONT STRUCTURES

In response to Hurricane Sandy, New York City has adopted new zoning regulations that enable property owners in waterfront communities in the city’s five boroughs to comply with FEMA flood standards.  The regulations balance the need for flood-proofing with the objective of preserving street level activity and neighbourhood character.   
 
OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
OPEN GOVERNMENT MAP
The “Open Government Map” is a searchable interactive portal for citizens, civil society and governments.   The portal compiles and assesses a broad range of open government practices and initiatives from around the world.     

URBANIST BUZZWORDS
A recent Atlantic Cities article analyzes  some technical jargon that is currently in use by a range of urban professionals.  The terms assessed are often confusing and frequently imply something completely different to what everyday readers would understand.     

THE INNOVATION DISTRICT

Through the last several decades, the geography of innovation has been identified with regions like Silicon Valley, with its corridors of isolated corporate campuses.  That spatial configuration of innovation is now being replaced by the “Innovation District,” a cluster of anchor institutions and innovative firms that support business incubators in mixed-use urban locations.    

TORONTO PLANNER FOCUSES ON  PEDESTRIANS
Toronto Chief Planner, Jennifer Keesmaat, is promoting walkability as a key city planning principle.  While walking is very much a part of life in the Toronto core, Keesmaat also has a plan http://urbantoronto.ca/news/2013/11/planning-roundtable-looks-solutions-suburban-issues to retrofit the city’s suburban areas for pedestrian friendliness.     

PHILADELPHIA LAND  BANK INITIATIVE
A new City of Philadelphia ordinance seeks to consolidate ownership of vacant and derelict properties under one Land Bank initiative.  The Land Bank has the authority to acquire title to privately owned vacant properties, if they are delinquent in taxes.  Developers will now be able to take control of whole blocks for development rather than trying to assemble a patchwork of properties on their own.   

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS  
CANADIAN JOURNALIST EXAMINES URBAN DESIGN  
Canadian journalist Charles Montgomery, has written a new book, Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design, which considers how lessons from psychology, neuroscience and design can be assessed to improve the quality of urban life. 
 
LEADING ARCHITECTURAL TRENDS FROM 2013 
A recent “Architizer” article reviews some key trends that have influenced urban planning and architecture in 2013 and hold promise for 2014 and future years in guiding urban climate adaptation, sustainability, improved project development oversight and more affordable housing solutions. 
 
MIXING AGE GROUPS IN AFFORDABLE HOUSING
In Portland, Oregon a non-profit corporation has built an urban solution, Bridge Meadows, that addresses the problem of residential age segregation while providing for the potential for child care assistance for families in the complex. The project includes low income apartment units for people 55 years and older and four bedroom houses for families who adopt foster children, with a requirement that seniors act as surrogate grandparents and mentors for the children and families that live there. 
 
THE BENEFITS OF SUSTAINABLE STREETS
The New York City Department of Transportation has used city tax and other data to analyze the impacts of street re-design and transportation enhancements on retail businesses. The resulting document "The Economic Benefits of Sustainable Streets", reviews the neighbourhood economic benefits of street improvements related to changing traffic patterns, better transit connections and increased pedestrian safety. 

SUBDIVISIONS BUILT AROUND FARMS   
Development-supported agriculture is a concept where a developer in planning a new neighbourhood, includes some form of food production, e.g. a farm, community garden, livestock operation, that appeals to new buyers, increases land values and community cohesion. Some 200 of these developments exist across the U.S. and are becoming more mainstream.

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Bruce McLeod
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