Innovation News September 30, 2014


INFRASTRUCTURE SENSORS AND BRIDGE SAFETY  
Instead of relying on annual bridge inspections that may or may not find structural flaws, governments are discovering that infrastructure sensors and the data generated provide improved ongoing assessment of the lifespan of major bridges. The data assists in detecting structural problems, in managing traffic flow and enables greater precision in the timing of costly bridge maintenance.   

MOBILE FIRST CITIZEN ENGAGEMENT STRATEGIES
A mobile first strategy makes mobile technology a priority rather than an afterthought in responding to constituents’ needs in communicating information.  Learn more about some current applications and the challenges facing governments in their implementation.      

PROVIDING LATE NIGHT TRANSIT SERVICE
Most transit agencies cease train operation around midnight; however, some key agencies are experimenting with 24-hour service on weekends or extending service until 3 in the morning either on specific transit lines or during specific times of the year.  Learn more about the considerations in extending transit service.    

SMARTER PARKING CODES
Traditionally, city parking provisions are used to set the provision of minimum  numbers of off-street parking spaces in new residential and commercial  developments, to assist in traffic management and meeting parking demand. Now some cities are developing new approaches to parking issues.

DESIGNING WASHINGTON’S UNION STATION
The proposed expansion and redevelopment of Washington, D.C’s Union Station, holds potential for the creation of not only a new urban commercial centre, but also an anchor for a regional economy extending from Richmond to Baltimore.  The $10 billion public/private project proposal, based on the concept of “trains as theatre,” would increase regional accessibility and enable access to more affordable housing.  Project financing would include senior government program transfers and user fees in addition to public/private partnerships.  

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS BLOOMBERG PHILANTHROPIES 2014 AWARD WINNERS
The 2014 Mayors Challenge, an ideas competition for European cities, promotes the adoption of creative urban strategies.  Learn more about the five 2014 award winners.  

URBAN MOBILITY IN COPENHAGEN
A recent New Cities Foundation article examines the issue of urban mobility as cities develop and some lessons from Copenhagen on how mobility is taken into account in urban structural decision making, as a regional and national issue and in managing issues preemptively rather than reactively.

SEATTLE EXAMINES NEW AFFORDABLE HOUSING TAX
Seattle City Council is assessing a tax on all new commercial and apartment projects in high density areas to help pay for more affordable housing, similar to a San Francisco program.  These “linkage fees” would be phased in over three years, to provide an additional tool to increase private sector affordable housing production.  

CHRISTCHURCH “SENSING CITY” INTITIATIVE
As the City of Christchurch, New Zealand rebuilds its central business district after the 2011 earthquake, a new local Sensing City initiative seeks to apply smart technology and data collecting sensors to enable city management responses that reflect economic and environmental sustainability and public safety objectives.   
MSGA GREAT NEIGHBORHOODS INITIATIVE
In 2010, the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance (MSGA) launched the Great Neighborhoods initiative  to build a regional nonprofit infrastructure that supports local partnerships on community transformation to secure affordability, diversity, vibrancy and walkability.  Learn more about accomplishments in five Greater Boston area communities.    

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS   AVOIDING SMART CITY MISTAKES
A recent article by an advisor for digital government and smart cities assesses some common mistakes made by the first wave of e-government and smart city development.  Learn more about smart city strategy pitfalls and remedies.    

RECYCLING SHOPPING MALLS   
The demise of shopping malls has been documented in many articles and photos that show the bleak urban landscapes when the shoppers are gone.  However, in some cases, malls have been repurposed as medical complexes, churches and apartments or used by less traditional tenants such as a high school or recreational facility.  Seven malls U.S. malls demonstrate interesting repurposing initiatives.   

LOW IMPACT DEVELOPMENT
Low impact development (LID) is a stormwater management strategy that focuses on conservation and use of existing natural site features to more closely mimic natural hydrologic patterns in residential, commercial and industrial settings.  LID preserves and recreates landscape features, minimizes impervious surfaces and treats stormwater as a resource rather than a waste product.   

DATA DRIVEN CITIES
A recent SmartData Collective article profiles some top world cities that are using data to change their current economies, save lives and improve service delivery and quality of life.  

MILLENNIALS OPT FOR PUBLIC TRANSIT
A 2013 survey from U.S. transportation philanthropy Transit Center, posed questions to U.S. urban residents about their transit use and related motivations.   Survey results from 46 metropolitan areas found that more people under 30 across all income brackets, are likely to use public transit regularly, notwithstanding their suburban upbringing.      

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

STEPS TO CUTTING PEDESTRIAN DEATHS
Vision Zero is based on a series of practical steps to slow traffic speed, deter distracted driving and make walking safer and more enjoyable.     

THE CASE FOR INFRASTRUCTURE ASSET MANAGEMENT
Infrastructure asset management is a systematic approach in allocating an appropriate level of scarce resources to managing investment, maintenance and operations in providing community services.  Learn more about some examples of municipal asset management approaches.   

 A “SMART” PLAN FOR ST. ALBERT
The City of St. Albert, Alberta is on a mission to use technology to improve the community in a range of ways.  St. Albert’s objective is to use a master planning process to become a centre of excellence in partnership with the Alberta Smart City Alliance (Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, University of Alberta, IBM and Cisco Canada) and to use technology in a collaborative way to benefit residents.   
   
BURLINGTON FLOOD REDUCTION STRATEGY
The City of Burlington has announced its plans for a flood reduction study and the establishment of citizen engagement groups in flood prone areas.  The initiative is directed to mitigating future flooding and ensuring the safety of residents and responds to the August 4, 2014 storm that brought 191 millimetres of rain to parts of the city in an eight hour period.

THE NEW CLIMATE ECONOMY REPORT
The New Climate Economy, a global partnership of research institutes, has published a new report on the role of cities and urbanization as part of a new climate economy.  The report contends that climate action is compatible with economic growth and recommends initiatives in three key economic systems: cities; land use and energy, related to resource efficiency, infrastructure investment and innovation.      

HOW CITIES CAN SUPPORT VIBRANT TECH
A recent Next City article identifies the characteristics of cities with sustainable technology ecosystems.   The article contends that all of these components need to be in place to build resilient technology entrepreneurship.

EVALUATING TRANSIT SYSTEMS
CITYLAB has published an article in CITYFIXER that relates the personal transit experience of a City of Houston transit board director.  This experience led to a redesign of the entire Houston Metro bus system and identified a common problem in cities across the U.S., where people working on transit need to actually ride transit to make informed decisions.

WINNIPEG CREATES COMPLETE WATERFRONT COMMUNITY
The City of Winnipeg, the Province of Manitoba and CentreVenture Development Corporation are creating a complete community through the Exchange Waterfront Neighbourhood Development Program (News+Releases+-+City+of+Winnipeg).  The objective is to create a safe, quality environment with cutting-edge urban living opportunities.  

NYC’s CLIMATE SUMMIT
On September 23, 2014 the United Nations Climate Summit will begin, bringing a clear focus on actions that government leaders at all levels need to take now to avoid future climate impacts on national  infrastructure and resilience.  Learn more about the matters that will be addressed and why this summit is worth following.

THE ROLE OF CITIES IN NATURAL PROTECTION
In a recent Huffington Post article, urbanist Kaid Benfield reflects on the relationship between cities and natural, rural landscapes outside of cities.  Benfield contents that the best way to protect natural areas is through strong, compact communities that do not encroach on areas of significant natural value.      
    
OTHER DEVELOPMENTS THE RADIUS OF DEMAND FOR TRANSIT  
Fixed track transit investment often stimulates the development industry.  A related key component of transit planning is the spacing of transit stops and the concept of radius of demand is useful in assessing the tradeoff between degree of access for transit riders and transit service speed.  

THE FIVE LARGEST U.S. PUBLIC TRANSIT SYSTEMS
A new infographic outlines the history, ridership information and key metrics for transit systems in Chicago, New York City, Boston, Washington, DC and San Francisco.   

WILL SEATTLE BE THE FIRST TO RECYCLE EVERYTHING?
City of Seattle Council Resolution 31312 provides for zero net emissions by 2050,  and Seattle is one a small number of cities aspiring to this goal.  Learn more about the city’s focus on pushing residents to conserve water, recycle more and drive less.  

REEXAMINING PARKING POLICY
There are many approaches to city parking policy and pricing that impact parking demand, traffic circulation, land development requirements and housing costs.  While there are varying policy perspectives on these matters, smartphone technology and apps may offer some relief in managing effective parking initiatives
 
THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF WATER INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT  
Local government jurisdictions are facing immense challenges in replacing aging water and wastewater infrastructure.  However, a new report  by the Water Research Foundation (WRF) and Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF), demonstrates the significant economic and job creation impacts of water infrastructure investment.    

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS CHANGING DENSITY AND WALKABILITY IN SUBURBS
A recent Sustainable Cities Collective article contends that the key to improving suburban walkability relies is increasing density and proposes that a municipality create a market for density by designating peripheral areas for conservation and implementing town centre zoning changes to incentivize development that promotes walkability.   

FOSTERING URBAN INNOVATION
The U.S. Citi Foundation and Living Cities have launched a new initiative to replicate and promote municipal innovation.  The City Accelerator Program is a component of a national conversation on how to generate and sustain innovation by focusing on the expertise of outside consultants or stand-alone offices of innovation rather, than program funding.     

CAN BIKE LANES ACTUALLY REDUCE TRAFFIC DELAYS?
Some cities are pushing back against the belief that bike lanes lead to car congestion.  A new report  on protected bike lanes released by the New York City Department of Transportation shows how rider safety can be increased while car speed is maintained.

TAKING ADVANTAGE OF SMARTPHONES FOR TRANSPORTATION INNOVATION
Mobile apps and interfaces help people to sort out transportation route options, locate a bus or hail a taxi.  While city data releases and contests have spawned a range of innovative apps, the development of an integrated app that enables users to plan, book and pay for trips on various travel modes has been left to the private market.  

USING CROWDFUNDING TO FINANCE CITY PROJECTS  
Crowdfunding is a growing funding model that has been expanded to support urban improvement projects.  More than 170 cities have registered to use Citizinvestor.com, a crowdfunding platform that raises money for a variety of public projects.  

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
Calgary Simplifies Home Inspections 

GREEN BUILDING STANDARDS TO BE STREAMLINED
The U.S. Green Building Council is one of five major building standard developers working to streamline green building standards for the commercial and high rise residential markets.  Low rise residential standards are likely to follow.

THE RISE OF DOWNTOWN CAMPUSES
Downtown location of university campuses is seen as one proven solution to decaying urban areas in Canadian cities.  Specific satellite campus downtown expansions in Windsor, Brantford, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Vancouver and St. Catharines demonstrate the land value and revenue increases that help communities to prosper and municipalities to provide better local services.   
 
HOW CITIES ARE EMBRACING RESILIENCY     
Resilient cities are those that learn to operate flexibly, ensure reserved capacity of vital resources and rebound quickly from economic, climate-based or public safety shocks.  A culture of community resiliency helps to reduce disaster cost and operational impacts.

THE IMPACTS OF ACCESSORY DWELLING UNITS  
A recent survey of Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) owners in selected Oregon cities, catalogues the operation, costs and use of ADUs and their value in providing community housing and family care options.  

REPORT ASSESSES HOUSING NEEDS OF AGING POPULATIONS
A new report by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies and the AARP Foundation finds that the U.S. is not prepared to meet the needs of growing numbers of older populations in the country.  The report focuses on the need for governments to address accessible, safe and affordable housing options for their aging population. 
 
NEW TOOLKIT FOR PLANNING WHOLE COMMUNITIES  
A new Toolkit (Puget Sound Regional Council) for local municipalities, contains twenty five resource guides describing approaches to promote health, equity and sustainability in plans, policies and programs.  The toolkit contains useful web links and best practices.  

HOW DISTRICT HEATING CAN IMPROVE ENERGY SECURITY
After the 1973 oil crisis, Denmark set out to improve its energy security by investing in renewables, energy efficiency and district heating.  Now district heating in Denmark serves 63 per cent of households and Denmark has become a net exporter of oil.  

NEW PUBLIC PORTAL FOR FIRE AND POLICE RESEARCH
A new public safety search portal developed by the University of the Fraser Valley will help policy makers locate the information they need to make sound decisions.  The portal provides free access to extensive information on fire, police, drugs and public safety and will be updated as new research information becomes available.  
 
LOS ANGELES CREATES MORE PARK SPACE
Over the last several years, Los Angeles and other cities have been moving to convert vacant lots, underused city streets, utility corridors and alleys into small parks, plazas, bikeways and pedestrian corridors.  The open space initiative includes building “pocket parks” in densely populated, low income neighbourhoods.  

SISTER CITIES CAN INCREASE ECONOMIC TIES
There is a shift in sister city relationships, traditionally developed for diplomatic, cultural or education purposes, to expanding partnerships for economic purposes.  Sister Cities International reports increasing interest in creating economic and business ties, since the Great Recession.


 

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