Innovation News July 2015



NEW REPORT ON ROAD DESIGN
A new report, “Cities Safer by Design,” provides practical advice for urban professionals in creating safer streets and communities to reduce traffic fatalities.  The report includes specific design recommendations related to urban building and retrofitting and reducing vehicle speeds.  

HOUSTON TRANFORMS BUS SYSTEM
The City of Houston is revamping its 1970’s era bus system.  The entire bus route network 80 routes carrying 1200 buses) is being replaced in mid-August, by a new system of simpler lines with better connections that expand areas served and provide service within walking distance of route stops.   

PLANNING THE NEW YORK CITY PARK SYSTEM
Next City recently interviewed Mitchel Silver, New York City Commissioner for Parks and Recreation, to discuss the city’s park system plan and data driven decision making.  Learn more  about the city’s assessment of trends and issues and new models of green systems.  

BIKE-FRIENDLY SUBURBAN PLANNING    
A Dutch town, Houten, a suburb of the City of Utrecht, is recognized by transportation professionals as a case study in bike friendly planning.  Car traffic is assigned to a ring road around the perimeter of the town, reserving interior low speed streets for people traveling by bike and pedestrians.

CHINA’S HIGH TECH ZONES
In response to the Chinese Central Government promotion of innovation to spur economic growth, municipalities are focused on designating special high tech zones to bring together entrepreneurs, fast Internet connections and research facilities.  The goal is to generate new materials, software, electronics manufacturing and mobile apps.     

DECLUTTERING PARKING SIGNS
Sydney, Australia has found a way to make parking signs more readable, using E-Ink screens. The signs project different parking restrictions based on the hour of the day, are solar powered and can communicate on the cellular network.   
 
UNDERSTANDING CITY STREETS   
Street planning in cities is more than a technical issue, requiring the input of many stakeholders with competing interests.  Learn more how street assets can enable both moving and living to improve social and economic health.   
SOME SMART CITY IDEAS
Leading urban areas are actively working with a wide range of private and public research groups, businesses, civic leaders and citizens in creating information systems that provide the broadest benefits.  Learn more about the use of sensor boxes to collect data in Chicago and intelligent streetlamps in Glasgow.   

ASSESSING THE PRIVATIZATION OF PUBLIC UTLITIES      
Public infrastructure is crumbling in many jurisdictions and public utilities are finding it difficult to generate revenue necessary for infrastructure renewal and maintenance.  Should local governments turn to private companies to manage core infrastructure?  A recent CityLab article considers an answer to this question.    

TRACKING MILLENNIALS
Many publications regularly contain articles  about new trends and values of millennials, with constant revelations about the lifestyles of those born after 1980, who make up the largest generation in history.  The latest trend seems to be that millennials are moving to new places made just for them.     

PHILADELPHIA’S GREEN STORMWATER PROGRAM  
Philadelphia’s Green City, Clean Waters (GCCW) plan relies almost entirely on green stormwater infrastructure systems to recapture rainwater, use it irrigate trees and plants and then recycle it to prevent sewage outflows. The GCCW has enabled Philadelphia to become the first U.S. city to meet state and federal water mandates.   
 
REASSESSING URBAN PLANNING  
Discussion at the annual meeting of the Association of European Schools of Planning centred on the results of the efforts of the planning profession in guiding growth in an orderly fashion.  A new book, Planning for States and Nation States (Lincoln Institute of Land Policy) compares planning regimes in the U.S and Europe, with some interesting conclusions.  

DESIGNING DENSER CITIES
As part of the City of New York Housing Plan, the Department of City Planning is updating the city’s zoning code and is examining ways to modernize the provisions that shape buildings and to provide more interior courtyards, street-side gardens and a focus on designing for light.

THE ADVENT OF AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES
Learn more about the potential impacts that self-driving cars will have on transportation and how autonomous vehicles will be networked to share information with each other over time to generate, analyze and act to provide greater travelling safety, speed, economy and efficiency.
   
LIVABILITY DESIGN TOOLS     
The Imagining Livability Design Collection is a visual portfolio of tools and transformations created by AARP Livable Communities and the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute to enable a range of innovative and tested techniques to support people of all ages.    

WHY MILLENNIALS ARE DRIVING LESS
Young people today are driving less than those have done in the past.  Possible explanations are that so many millennials are out of work or postponing families, there is less need to drive.  Another reason may be a different attitude towards cars than earlier generations.  Learn more an analysis in the Journal of the American Planning Association (Noreen McDonald) that may explain millennial driving trends.

CHINESE “SPONGE CITIES”
There are many Chinese urban areas that experience regular droughts and floods.  Now the Chinese Government is investing billions of dollars in a new infrastructure design that collects excess rainfall and integrates flood control in urban planning, to develop the “sponge city.”     

CAR FREE CENTRAL MILAN
Joining a growing list of European cities, Milan is the latest to begin banning car use in in its downtown neighbourhoods.  The plan is to pedestrianize the central area gradually, until the historical core is car-free.    

ENDING HOMELESSNESS  
A recent U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) report on The Family Options Study, examines the effectiveness of homelessness intervention.  The study is a three year long assessment of approaches to reducing homelessness in 12 U.S. communities.

DESIGNERS CREATE ZERO-CARBON HOUSE
Cardiff University designers say they have built a house that exports more power to the grid than it uses, with energy costs coming within a normal social housing budget.  The zero carbon house took 16 weeks to construct, at a cost of £1000 per square meter.      

TOKYO TRANSIT PREPARES FOR “GUERILLA RAINSTORM”
Tokyo has recently endured rainfall about 20% above normal annual levels, including sudden downpours when moist ocean air is trapped by dense areas of tall buildings.  With a major part of the city below sea level and little soil to absorb water, Tokyo is redoubling flood prevention efforts.

NEW MAPPING TOOL ASSISTS IN URBAN DESIGN
The Urban Network Analysis (UNA), a city-modeling software program from MIT’s City Form Lab, uses a set of algorithms to predict things like pedestrian routes, accessibility and market share.  In the Spring, UNA introduced new modeling software for urban designers that enables the analysis of building characteristics and attributes to predict pedestrian movement and circulation patterns.  

DOWNTOWN PITTSBURGH’S “SHARED SPACE”
The City of Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership of planning and business community interests is assessing the application of a concept called “shared space” to a section of Liberty Avenue in the city core.  Application of the concept would enable pedestrians to mingle with cars on a section of the roadway in a plaza-like atmosphere.

INCORPORATING DESIGN INNOVATION IN P3 MODELS
While public-private partnerships have proven to be successful in upgrading infrastructure across Canadian jurisdictions, it can be difficult to include innovation in design into bids for new capital works.  Learn more about agency efforts to incorporate and reward innovative design in P3 procurement.    

REBUILDING CITY AND SMALL TOWN ECONOMIES
A new report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) examines how urban areas can increase economic resiliency by adapting to changing conditions and reinventing local economic bases.  Learn more about some specific case studies that demonstrate successful resiliency tactics.                .

FACTORS UNDERLYING SMART CITIES
Wireless networks and data platforms are components of the technology infrastructure that provide the basis for smart cities. Learn more about seven information/communications technology factors that together, provide the context for smart cities.

EUROPEAN CITIES LEAD ON CLEAN ENERGY
With more than 6,000 cities committed to exceed the EU climate targets, European local governments are leading their national governments in reducing carbon emissions. Copenhagen, Vaxjo (Sweden) and Bristol are key examples of clean energy leaders.

SEATTLE RECLAIMS ITS WATERFRONT
The City of Seattle is making progress in the demolition of the downtown Alaska Way Viaduct and in implementing its waterfront plan to recapture prime land beneath and adjacent to the roadway. The waterfront plan, which is the subject of public consultation, will enable projects like MarketFront that provide for additional public open space.

PRACTICING CYBERSECURITY
Recent cybersecurity breaches in both the private and public sectors have captured the attention of local governments. Learn more about municipal cyber defense programs and training that can be used to mitigate risk by hackers and damaging viruses.

EXPANDING THE USE OF BODY CAMERAS
While body camera use is growing in municipal police departments, some local governments are considering expanding the use of body cameras to departments outside of police services. Body cameras are now being used by parking regulation, code enforcement and building and fire inspection officials in interacting with the public.

THE ECONOMICS OF WALKABILITY
While the health and environmental benefits of walkable neighbourhoods are well documented, it is also clear that walkability has real economic benefits as well. A recent Urbanland article makes an economic case for walkable communities.

ASSESSING INNOVATION DISTRICTS
The Brookings Institution has surveyed leaders in both U.S. and European innovation districts to assess what has happened on the ground in cities and metros that have adopted this approach to local networking to shape urban economies. Learn more about the findings of this assessment.

HOW MELBOURNE REINVENTED ITSELF
The City of Melbourne is well recognized among urban professionals for the revitalization of its central core. Learn more about the city’s initiatives in revitalizing its public spaces and repurposing laneways.

MANAGING RISK IN MUNICIPAL PROCUREMENT
A recent CityMart article examines how municipal governments define risk in procurement and suggests a balanced grouping of these by risks to the citizen and risk to the municipal administration to develop a new outcome-oriented procurement framework.

ACHIEVING GREEN GARAGE CERTIFICATION
The U.S. Green Parking Council (GPC) has announced the first seven parking garages in the U.S. to qualify for Green Garage Certification, a comprehensive standard for existing and new facilities covering 48 elements of garage operation, programs, structure and technology.
 

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Bruce McLeod

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