Innovation News March 2014


 
A SEARCH FOR NEW CITY APPS
Guardian Cites and the New Cities Foundation have launched AppMyCity 2014, a global contest to find mobile applications that make the biggest differences in enhancing urban life.

PUBLIC HEALTH AND URBAN PLANNING
A new report from the MIT Center for Advanced Urbanism and the American Institute of Architects, assesses a range of assumptions affecting how professionals think about health and cities. The findings indicate that there is little evidence that walkable cities are healthier than suburbs.  
    
ALBERTA PROFILES WATER-WISE COMMUNITIES  
The efforts of several local communities to manage their water issues are featured in a series of YouTube videos  recently released by the Alberta Water and Wastewater Operators Association.

ENCOURAGING WALKABILITY
The convergence of the development of new technology and interactive apps, new pedestrian friendly urban development and a greater general interest in walkability, is prompting local government leaders to both increase their awareness of and accommodate these trends in decision making.
    
NEW DEVELOPMENTS IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT WEBSITES   
An increase in the amount of information that is available to citizens, the need to engage directly with residents on policy issues and the proliferation of a range of web-enabled communications technology and social media, has focused greater attention on municipal websites.  Learn more about some website innovations in Washington State communities.  
 
OTHER DEVELOPMENTS HOW OPEN SPACE ADDS VALUE TO DEVELOPMENT
A recent Urban Land article relates perspectives on trends and opportunities for incorporating open space into multi-family and mixed use developments.

GOOGLE EARTH AS A PLANNING TOOL
As Google Earth’s capabilities develop, including improved street view images, 3D buildings and historical imagery, land use planners are better able to examine local development patterns, street design and recent construction, and to view examples of development internationally.    

ENCOURAGING “MAKER MOVEMENT” LOCAL INDUSTRIES
Across the United States there is a resurgence of interest in fostering local industry given the costs of doing business abroad, fuel costs and renewed preference for local products.  This is reflected in the creative “maker movement” that is emerging in many urban areas and smaller communities.  

VANCOUVER’S GRANVILLE ISLAND
The successful 1970s conversion of Granville Island from a derelict downtown Vancouver  industrial and warehousing site is a tribute to the creativity of the Granville Island Trust.  Learn more about the Island’s design and the delicate balance between local market users and international travelers.  

NEW ORILLIA SITE PLAN PROCESS REDUCES RED TAPE
Orillia’s new streamlined site plan process enables a more time and cost efficient process built on non-technical language, that is monitored using built-in performance measures.     

URBAN RESILIENCE
Urban resilience reflects a city’s capacity to carry on in the face of emergencies and challenges, beyond disaster preparedness. Learn more about efforts in cities around the globe to promote resilience.

BENCHMARKING THE TORONTO REGION
The Toronto Board of Trade has released the sixth Annual Scorecard on Prosperity, ‘Defining our Region’s Future: Going from “Good” to “Great” ’ benchmarking the Toronto region against 23 global metropolitan areas.

URBAN STREET DESIGN
A recent study by J. Alexander Maxwell (University of Strathclyde Urban Design Studies Unit) contends that, in advance of the rise of the automobile, cities developed a walkable human scale with main streets measuring about 400 meters, the “400-m rule".  It is argued that this human tendency should be considered in urban policy and design.

LEAN URBANISM
AndrĂ©s Duany has added the term “lean urbanism"  to the current range of planning concepts. His view of lean urbanism is that it is a guide or tip sheet to navigate complex codes and regulations to produce less expensive and more timely urban projects.

SEARCHING FOR A PARKING SPOT
A new Chicago website and app, “SpotHero" lists city parking prices and inventory that residents may want to rent out. The service, which shows users available parking inventory on a map and enables online booking, is now spreading to other U.S. Midwest and Mid-Atlantic cities.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS MAKING CITIES WORK
Through the twelve years of the Michael Bloomberg administration, New York City was home to a wide range of urban innovations.  Learn more about the factors that led to these changes.  

ROTTERDAM’S WATER SQUARE
Dutch landscape firm, De Urbanisten has created the world’s first “water square” or community water park, that is fed entirely by storm water.  

ASSESSING GENTRIFICATION
In a recent Switchboard (NRDC) article, Kaid Benfield assesses various perspectives on gentrification and initiatives in some U.S cities to balance needed investment in distressed inner-city neighbourhoods with protecting longstanding residents.   

CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS MOBILITY

Corporate Head Office mobility is on the minds of many local politicians and economic development professionals, given the prestige and economic stimulus that a new head office brings to a city.  Learn more about the role of five key selection factors that guide the choice of new head office locations.

KINGSTON SEEKS TOP INTELLIGENT COMMUNITY RECOGNITION
On March 20 and 21, New York-based Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) officials visit Kingston, Ontario to evaluate the city as a contender for the top 2014 Intelligent Community. Kingston was chosen based on a partnership between the City, KEDCO and Utilities Kingston that reflects how culture and heritage adds community social and economic value.

GOOGLE FIBER EXPANDS TO MAJOR U.S. CITIES
The Google Fiber one-gigabit broadband network product  is being planned to expand to nine metropolitan areas and 34 cities in the U.S.  Cities are being asked by Google to compile “fiber-ready checklists” and maps of poles, conduits and existing water, gas and electricity lines.   

NAVIGATING THE FUTURE CITY
The Urban Research Unit  (London, UK), recently sponsored a panel discussion that explored ideas on the future of transport, planning, living and working in London and New York.

WHY DOWNTOWNS ARE BACK
The downtowns of North American cities have weathered population and business declines as suburbs expanded and  economic shifts from manufacturing to business services, to become magnets for higher paying jobs, neighbourhood re-investment, cultural activities and in many cases, the locus of digital start-ups.  Learn more about the factors leading to successful downtowns.      

THE CHICAGO TECH PLAN
The City of Chicago has released its first comprehensive technology plan to provide long term strategies that enable communities with technology to build new city economic and social opportunities.  

IMPLEMENTING SMART CITIES
A new book, “Smart Cities:  Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia,” (Anthony Townsend) contends that the push toward smart cities is being led by technology companies rather than urban professionals who can bring creative, bottom up approaches to technology application that move beyond achieving short term sales goals.    

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS SHOULD THERE BE DISINCENTIVES FOR DRIVERS?
Commuters have many transportation choices; however, transportation professionals in the U.S. contend that after decades of transit investment, there are just negligible modal shifts from automobile use.  A recent Atlantic Cities article examines the issue of implementing disincentives for drivers.

P3s GENERATE MORE THAN $50 BILLION IN CANADA’S ECONOMY  
According to a recent study of public-private partnerships operating from 2003 to 2012, undertaken by the Canadian Council on Public-Private Partnerships, infrastructure P3s created about three quarters of a million full and part-time jobs, added significantly to the GDP and government revenue and led to about $10 billion in cost savings.   

BIRMINGHAM LAUNCHES SMART CITY ROADMAP   
The City of Birmingham in the UK has launched the Smart City Roadmap that sets out over 35 actions related to unemployment, the skills gap, health, urban mobility and carbon reduction targets, that influence city’s approach to sustainability. 
 
THE VALUE OF MID-RISE DEVELOPMENT
Increasingly, developers are coming to embrace mid-rise buildings and residents are finding that carefully designed mid-rise projects are welcome additions to city neighbourhoods.  Learn more about the City of Toronto Mid-Rise Design Standards and the challenges of building height, step backs and the relationship of a building to the street.  

BEST CANADIAN CITIES FOR PUBLIC TRANSIT
Walk Score  has announced its first ranking of the leading Canadian cities for public transit.  Comparisons are made among 38 Canadian cities and some of the larger U.S. cities.

2013 CODE FOR AMERICA ANNUAL REPORT
Learn more about new developments and innovations related to digital interfaces with government in a broad range of jurisdictions across a range of service delivery areas.

BRANDING YOUR CITY
A well-crafted city branding narrative can have a major impact on a decision to locate in the city, buy its products and services and do business there.

REDUCING WATER FOOTPRINTS
Learn more about some smart choices communities can make by reducing water consumption, reusing water in homes and businesses and recycling wastewater.  

THE NYC IMMIGRATION MODEL
New York City’s Office of Immigrant Affairs has become a prime resource and model for cities around the world seeking to better accommodate and serve increasingly diverse populations.

SUCCESS IN TRANSIT ORIENTED DEVELOPMENT
Five U.S. metropolitan areas are national leaders in transit oriented development (TOD).  Each has pursed four approaches that have led to success.

TRACKING MILLENNIALS
The biggest factor in the current North American demographic shift is the Millennial generation (18 to 33 year olds), which is pursuing a very differ path to adulthood.  Learn more about six new findings about Millennials.

MORE ENGAGING PLANNING DOCUMENTS
Difficulty in seeking public input to planning documents often arises because of how information is presented.    Learn more about organizations that have reached out to their publics through more dynamic and interactive planning documents.

INNOVATIVE PROCUREMENT

Traditional procurement policies and processes reflect taxpayer protection, enable efficiencies and prevent discrimination.  Often however, traditional approaches discourage innovation and creativity and do not account for rapid changes in technology.  Consider six approaches to modernize procurement.      

UNDERSTANDING SMART CITIES
While the concept of a “Smart City” has led to a range of technology applications to urban service delivery and operations, there are continuing economic, financial and political challenges and a need for greater clarity on the most productive areas for investment.   

10 LESSONS FOR CITIZEN ENGAGEMENT
Vancouver urbanists Brent Toderian and Jillian Glover assess how cities in the Vancouver region are developing new approaches to citizen participation.   

TORONTO’S APPROACH TO NEIGHBOURHOOD FUNDING NEEDS  
The City of Toronto has developed a new approach to enable staff to evaluate the city’s 140 neighbourhoods to decide where to direct services.  The new tool will help to measure a range of community needs to identify priority “Neighbourhood Improvement Areas.”                     

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
TORONTO SELECTED AS INNOVATION CENTRE  
Cisco has announced that the City of Toronto has been selected as one of four global Cisco Internet of Everything Innovation (IoE) Centres.  This designation brings with it a planned investment of up to $100 million over ten years.  

ASSESSING VANCOUVER LOCAL AREA PLANNING
While Vancouver residents are very engaged in local planning efforts, as is reflected in the city’s emphasis on walkable, affordable and diverse neighbourhoods, there are growing concerns about the future economy of the city and a need for a focus on developing permanent job creating industrial clusters.  
 
LEARNING FROM A VIRTUAL CITY
RELIVE (Research Laboratory for Immersive Virtual Environments, University of Waterloo) researchers are able to study simulated cities to explore peoples’ behavior to develop designs that better reflect the variables of complex urban environments.

SMART CITIES AND CITIZEN ENGAGEMENT
As technology progresses (sensors, smart phones and social media), smart cities can tap the talent of their citizens, collaborate on service delivery initiatives and use data collected from mobile devices to plan and better manage.   

SEARCH FOR THE BIKE-FRIENDLY METROPOLIS
Learn more about the varying design and policy approaches taken in large cities across Europe and North America to achieve balanced transportation choices, cycling safety and improved local health.  

IS THERE A MILLENNIAL COMMITMENT TO CITIES?
A recent National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Switchboard article examines the trend toward downtown life styles preferred by millennials and the future choices of members of this generation once they start raising families.  

THE FUTURE OF URBAN FREEWAYS
A recent Atlantic Cities article contends that U.S. urban freeway systems are here to stay because of the high volumes of traffic that they handle, the costs of realistic alternatives and the convenience and independence that cars provide.  

ECCENTRIC BUILDINGS
Learn more about some of the most eccentric buildings in the world.

MODELS OF PUBLIC SERVICE DELIVERY
While new digital technologies enable new models of public service delivery, there is often negative reaction to these developments given cost, privacy and implementation concerns. To manage these challenges, the City of Dublin has established The Studio, an interdisciplinary design unit to innovate public service.    

A VISION FOR NYC SELF-SUSTAINABILITY  
A New York City research centre, the Terreform Research Group, has developed a vision and project ideas to enable the city to move to a greater level of self-sustainability.
 
OTHER DEVELOPMENTS PEDESTRIAN CROSSWALK SAFETY
Pedestrian traffic fatalities continue to be a major urban concern, as local government policy makers search for ways to make streets safer for the walking public. Learn more about specific concerns with crosswalks and some remedies for these issues.

METRO VANCOUVER TURNS SEWAGE WASTE TO GAS
Metro Vancouver will undertake a $13 million project to capture some of the energy in sewage to deliver biomethane to the FortisBC natural gas distribution system. The natural gas will be piped to both homes and businesses.      

THE GEOGRAPHY OF FUTURE U.S. JOBS
The Martin Prosperity Institute has used U.S. Bureau of Labour statistics to project job growth for all 350 U.S. metros over the next decade. A recent Atlantic Cities article outlines projected job growth by occupational category and maps job growth across the country. 
 
EXPANDING AFFORDABLE HOUSING SUPPLY  
A new Urban Land Institute report, Bending the Cost Curve:  Solutions to Expand the Supply of Affordable Rentals, outlines factors that affect the development of affordable rental housing and solutions to overcome barriers.   

ASSESSING COMPREHENSIVE PLANS
Comprehensive plans are characteristic of many urban areas, providing guidance to elected officials on future development decisions.  Learn more about how to evaluate the effectiveness of these documents.  

Contact

Bruce McLeod
OMKN Coordinator

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