Innovation News August 2015


TORONTO’S SUBURBAN HIGH RISES
City officials are now focused on preserving some 1200 residential high rise buildings constructed between 1945 and 1984.  Learn more about Toronto’s Tower Renewal Program.

BARCELONA’S SMART CITY LEADERSHIP
Over the past four years, Barcelona has created a blueprint for the city of the 21st century, aided by investments by Cisco, Microsoft and IBM.  The city’s new digital operating system and data collection infrastructure run the entire city, driving down costs and producing real time data to continuously improve service delivery.  

SAN FRANCISCO MODEL IMPROVES PUBLIC SPACE
San Francisco has established the country’s first Green Benefit District (GBD) Program that enables neighbourhood property owners to pay a small assessment dedicated to maintaining and improving local public space.   

PORTLAND’S HOMELESSNESS INITIATIVE
The City of Portland Home for Everyone initiative will help police and social service providers to target public safety and behavioral health programs using a more comprehensive, tactical approach.

SANTA MONICA FIRST TO MEASURE RESIDENT WELLBEING
The City of Santa Monica has analyzed data, surveyed residents on quality of life indicators and assessed social media information, to produce a wellbeing index  for citizens.  Results of the initiative will inform new community based consultations and policy development.

SAN FRANCISCO’S SAFER MARKET STREET PLAN
San Francisco’s Safer Market Street Plan contains new rules which will limit turns by private cars onto a stretch of congested Market Street. The rules are designed to eliminate conflicts between drivers, pedestrians and cyclists and are part of the city’s Vision Zero initiative.  

URBAN RETAIL STRATEGIES
Urban professionals agree that mixed use neighbourhoods lead to vibrant downtowns and communities.  Learn more http://bettercities.net/news-opinion/blogs/dan-zack/21681/strategies-good-urban-retail about strategies for mixed use that reflect the realities and limitations of retail uses and a commitment to robust street life.   

BIKE REPAIR STATIONS SUPPORT CYCLING
The City of Kamloops Bicycle Advisory Committee has identified sites for three new bike repair stations in proximity to high bike traffic routes which are accessible to the public and existing cycling infrastructure.  The stations provide access to a variety of tools and bike pumps.

DALLAS DESIGN-DRIVEN APPROACH TO HOMELESSNESS
Dallas nonprofit CitySquare is sponsoring a project that follows the “housing first” model to place those in need into stable shelter with necessary support services to combat homelessness.  The Cottages at Hickory Crossing will provide housing, recreational facilities and mental illness and addiction support to the chronically homeless.   

FLORIDA CITIES WANT TRANSPORTATION REVENUE TO PROMOTE INFILL
Florida developers pay “transportation concurrency fees” to public entities for development projects that add drivers to roadways, in order to help pay for infrastructure.  Now some local governments are studying a revised formula, or “mobility fee” that would fund multimodal infrastructure including roads, transit, bike lanes and sidewalks.  

CENTRAL DUBLIN TO GO CAR FREE
Dublin City Council has recently announced a $168.5 million plan to ban cars from sections of the city centre by 2017.  The plan, which is subject to a public consultation process, would reduce daily commuters from 33% to 20% in two years.   

TRANSFORMING COMMERCIAL STRIPS
Suburban arterial strip malls often isolate neighbourhoods and discourage sustainable transportation modes.  Learn more about the Urban Land Institute (ULI) initiatives in examining the challenges and potential assets of commercial strips to improve urban design, connect residents to economic activities and promote job creation and multiple transport modes.  
 
DIGITAL CITIES LEADERS    
The 2014 Center for Digital Government Survey identified 57 U.S. cities that recognize the value of technology, empower their leaders and develop innovative ideas to improve quality of life for their residents.  Learn more about leading technology projects by population category.  

NYC TO RECLAIM SPACE UNDER FREEWAYS
A new report  from New York City’s Department of Transport assesses the aesthetic and social opportunities of reclaiming space beneath the city’s 700 miles of elevated roadways and railways.   The report identifies several study sites, opportunities for community engagement and pilot projects.

VANCOUVER’S CANADA LINE
Vancouver’s light rail Canada Line has become a model for enabling environmentally responsible growth around transit stations.  The success of the Richmond city centre at the southern terminus of the Canada Line, is one example of how the transit line public /private investment has been a major factor in attracting new development.   

COMMUNITY LAND TRUSTS
A Community Land Trust (CLT) is an affordable home ownership opportunities model that can enable a nonprofit to obtain land for stable housing use based on the needs of specific neighbourhood residents.  Learn more about the operation of CLT models in Boston and Seattle.     

TURNING INDIANAPOLIS INTO A WALKABLE CITY
The five year RebuildIndy Program  developed in 2010 has invested in capital improvements to construct and repair sidewalks, implemented a strong complete streets ordinance and a greenway and trails to connect city neighbourhoods. Now the city is focused on developing and promoting a new pedestrian plan.

PORTLAND CONNECTS TO LOCAL STARTUPS
The City of Portland Development Commission has moved away from the city’s traditional RFP approach to finding government product and service providers by going to the local software industry to explain departmental needs.  Learn more about some early results of this “ask and offer”procurement initiative.

GOOGLE ANNOUNCES SIDEWALK LABS
In June, Google announced that it would be starting a new company, Sidewalk Labs, to invent and invest in “urban technologies” related to the physical design and functions of cities.

GARBAGE COLLECTION WITHOUT NOISE OR SMELL     
On Roosevelt Island (NYC), pneumatic tubes buried beneath the feet of residents are at work silently vacuuming garbage from buildings at 60 miles per hour.  The Automatic Vacuum Collections System (Avacs) disposes of about 10 tons of trash per day from 12,00 island residents. 

MEXICO CITY’S INNOVATION FOCUS
Mexico City has established the Laboratorio Para La Ciudad or Laboratory for the City, to focus exclusively on civic innovation.  The Lab, comparable to municipal innovation offices in other jurisdictions, works across city departments and with the public to develop creative solutions to city challenges.     

CHICAGO’S NEW TOD ORDINANCE
The City of Chicago zoning ordinance enables increased allowable density and significantly reduced parking requirements for transit-oriented development in proximity to rapid transit and regional rail stations.  A new proposed TOD ordinance would triple the area of land where denser development is permitted and increase the land area subject to reduced parking requirements tenfold.  

WHAT IS A CONNECTED CITY?
By 2020, it is projected that more than 50 billion smart sensor devices, connected objects or embedded sensors will be connected to the Internet, forming a gigantic Internet of Things (IoT).  The IoT will feed big data to private and public sector entities and will spawn analytic innovations.  Learn more about how some “connected cities” are responding.    

“WHAT WORKS CITIES” COMPETITION
The first eight winners in a 100-city data use program sponsored by former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg have been announced.  The “What Works Cities https://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2015/04/20/opening-data-for-stronger-cities-the-what-works-cities-initiative/” competition enables participating cities to get expert assistance in making data publicly available and increasing its use to improve decision making.  

AMSTERDAM VISUAL DATA ARCHIVE
The City of Amsterdam visual data archive contains continuously developing map and graphic resources on a range of urban services and information.  The public online archive provides enables comparisons to other cities and provides city financial, land use and service information.  

CREATING VIBRANT CENTRES
Vibrant centres have been described as walkable live/work/play environments in diverse communities connected by transit.  A recent Urban Land article describes the benefits of vibrant centres, design considerations and ways to promote vibrancy.

TRANSFORMING  SUBURBAN STREETS AND COMMERCIAL STRIPS
The AARP Livable Communities and the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute have developed place making “photovisions” of six locations to demonstrate how lifeless roads can become livelier places.

CHARACTERISTICS OF WALKABLE STREETS
Researchers have studied New York City streets to determine how to design a street to be more walkable.  Some 20 design features were significantly correlated with  high pedestrian counts.  Learn more about the top key factors that influence pedestrian activity.     
 
MANAGING TRAFFIC CONGESTION
While traffic congestion can lead to increased economic costs and driver frustration, few cities have had success at reducing congestion.  A recent Sustainable Cities Collective  article examines the value of cordon-based congestion pricing as a traffic management response.   

DESIGN PRINCIPLES FOR SAFER CITIES
As urban areas continue to grow, safety design considerations in cities and making roads safer are key considerations.  The Ross Center for Sustainable Cities has identified seven design principles that can improve road safety.

Contact

Bruce McLeod
OMKN Coordinator

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