Innovation News June 2015


SEATTLE CONSIDERS FUTURE GROWTH OPTIONS
Current projections are that the City of Seattle will grow by 120,000 people over the next twenty years, meaning that some 70,000 additional housing units will be required. The question of how to accommodate this growth by concentrating it or spreading it around, has led to the development of four growth visions that are currently subject to public discussion.

FUTURE VISIONS FOR WATER AND CITIES
The UK Government (Office for Science) has released a report that assesses the relationship between water and cities. The report is a “thought piece” that examines challenges confronting water supply, wastewater treatment and drainage and sets out five visons for water cycle management.

WHY U.S. COMPANIES ARE MOVING DOWNTOWN
A new report, “Core Values: Why American Companies are Moving Downtown,” examines some 500 companies that moved to cities between 2010 and 2015. Learn more about the decision making processes of these companies and their impacts economic development in downtown locations.

THE UK CITIES DEVOLUTION BILL
The Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill has been introduced into the UK Parliament and is expected to become law by the end of the year. Specific elements of the Bill which have become contentious include making devolution measures subject to a referendum, the extent of powers assigned to a city-region mayor and the question of devolution of fiscal authority.

GOOGLE’S SIDEWALK LABS
Google-backed urban innovation company, Sidewalk Labs, has recently announced its first large project, bringing free high-speed Internet to everyone in New York City. The plan involves turning the city’s derelict pay phone booths into wireless hubs.

HALTON REGION NEWCOMER STRATEGY
The Halton Region Newcomer Strategy has been recognized by the Ontario Municipal Social Services Association (OMSSA) with a Local Municipal Champion Award. Settlement priorities include building training capacity, an e-mentoring program and newcomer youth programs.

THE HISTORY OF LOS ANGELES DATA ANALYSIS
While the City of Los Angeles has launched DataLA, a new online data portal, and has appointed a Chief Innovation Technology Officer, the city’s use of big data dates back to the early 1970s. Learn more about the former Community Analysis Bureau initiatives, its legacy and lessons.

TOWN OF NEWMARKET E-BIDDING SYSTEM
The Town of Newmarket Procurement Services Department has been recognized for outstanding achievement for its e-bidding and e-tender systems. Newmarket’s new procurement systems are among the first such municipal systems in Ontario and have led to 100 per cent compliant bids and high stakeholder satisfaction.

THE VALUE OF FORM-BASED CODES
Form Ithaca in the City of Ithaca, New York, is working with local developers to provide more affordable housing through inclusionary zoning provisions in its form-based code (FBC). The objective is to enable more latitude and flexibility for designing, innovative medium density housing types at lower costs.

CLEVELAND TURNS TRAFFIC HUB INTO PUBLIC PARK
Architect James Corner (NYC High Line) was requested by the City of Cleveland to redesign the city’s “Public Square,” which has operated as a transportation hub. A new bold design includes the construction of park and green space interspersed with repurposed downtown streets, to encourage informal recreational use as well as outdoor events.

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.

HELSINKI, ONE OF EUROPE’ SMARTEST CITIES
Kalasamata, is being planned as a new smart district in Helsinki.  When completed in 2030, its 20,000 residents will be fully integrated into the city’s ICT infrastructure.

U.S. PEAK SPRAWL
A new study (PNAS Journal)  outlines the rise and fall of urban sprawl in the U.S.  The study tracked street connectivity over time  to measure sprawl, as well as sprawl construction.  The study contends that sprawl began to decline in 1990’s with the advent smart growth.

DUBLIN TO BAN CARS IN CITY CENTRE
The Dublin City Council is about to take a major step to ease congestion and promote the use of alternative transportation, by banning cars in parts of the downtown core.  The initiative is a component of the Dublin City Centre Transport Study.

SEATTLE TURNS ALLEYS INTO VIBRANT SPACES     
The City of Seattle will begin renovations on three downtown alleys to create new attractive community spaces where people can gather.  Work will focus on updating utility infrastructure beneath new brick pavement and the installation of new planters lighting and other amenities.   

HOW SMART CONNECTIONS IMPROVE CITY LIFE
The use of smart and connected technology to deliver community services is driving a growing ICT industry and improving the quality of urban life.  Learn more about some key developments in technology assisted service improvements in U.S. cities.

HOW VANCOUVER INVENTED ITSELF
Vancouver is one of the world’s most admired cities where the city skyline has preserved spectacular views of the mountains and harbor and walkable neighbourhoods integrated with greenspace.  Learn more about what has been called “Vancouverism” and the evolution of a city vision among city officials, developers and citizens.   
 
ATTRACTING INFILL DEVELOPMENT IN DISTRESSED COMMUNITIES

Infill development can result in community stabilization, reduced pollution, increased property values and reduced costs for municipalities.  A new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report  enables communities to determine both readiness and strategies to pursue infill development.

RETHINKING WASTE IN DETROIT    
The Reuse Opportunity Collaboratory (ROC) initiative in Detroit is a partnership designed to bring industries, businesses and entrepreneurs together to reuse waste materials to their fullest potential.  Learn more about how the program works.

GIVING HOMES TO THE HOMELESS   
Moore Place, a non-profit residential complex in Charlotte, North Carolina, provides housing units to those in need and as a first step in resolving the issues that led to homelessness.  A new study shows that the “housing first” approach has been successful in a number cities.     

SALT LAKE CITY’S PLANNED INTERSECTION TO PROTECT CYCLISTS
Salt Lake City is implementing the nation’s first protected intersection for cyclists. The design is based on a Dutch template that minimizes potential conflicts among those biking, diving and walking.

REASSESSING URBAN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
In economic development strategies, cities confront a choice between initiatives based on competitive advantage and specialization or those focused on diversification.  A recent SustainableCitiesCollective article demonstrates the value of “structural flexibility,” a concept enabling cities to re-orient towards emerging opportunities, while maintaining development potential across economic cycles.

2015 CAMA AWARD WINNERS ANNOUNCED     
Seven Canadian municipalities have won national awards of excellence from the Canadian  Association of Municipal Administrators (CAMA).  Learn more about the winning municipal projects.   

L.A. METRO REDEFINES TRANSIT
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), the second most extensive public transit  system in the U.S., is actively promoting a cultural shift from cars to transit in its award winning  “First Last Mile Strategic Plan and Planning Guidelines.”  
 
TRENDS IMPACTING REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENT                
A recent U.S. survey assessed real estate trends affecting the commercial and residential sectors and identified eight key areas to watch in 2015 to watch in 2015.

REINVENTING AMERICA’S STREETS
Filmmaker Todd Drezner has been filming In Transit , which includes footage of urban planners’ efforts to promote pedestrian and bike-friendly streets to skeptics. Drezner has begun a Kickstarter campaign to support filming in other cities.

SALT LAKE CITY PROTECTED BIKE LANE INTERSECTION  
Salt Lake City is breaking new ground with the nation’s first protected intersection for cyclists.  This initiative is a component of the city’s master plan, which supports the concept of complete streets.
     
NARROWER STREET LANES COULD INCREASE SAFETY  
A new study to be presented at the Canadian Institute of Traffic Engineers annual conference supports the view that the safest urban streets are those with lanes that measure 10 to 10.5 feet wide.  This finding contradicts the “forgiving highway” approach that suggests that wider is safer in street design.   

TORONTO TACKLES POVERTY REDUCTION
The City of Toronto is preparing a plan to tackle poverty in the city.  Toronto has one of the highest rates of child poverty and working poor.  City staff has prepared a framework for a poverty reduction strategy that is being discussed with the city’s low income residents.  

BOGOTÁ LEADS IN MITIGATING CLIMATE CHANGE
Bogotá, Columbia has demonstrated the importance of effective, city-wide climate change initiatives.  Learn more about the city’s efforts to modernize infrastructure, implement a bus rapid transit (BRT) system and landfill gas-to-energy project, all designed to manage congestion and pollution issues.   

PILOTING VIRTUAL BUILDING INSPECTIONS
San Bernadino County, California is piloting a program that uses a special application to enable applicants to forward building projects to building officials for review via smart phones or tablets rather than sending building inspectors to project sites.        

ADVANCED ANALYTICS ASSISTS UTILITIES
Utilities need to balance supply with demand, notwithstanding that supply decisions are often made often weeks in advance, relying on weather forecasts using historical data.  Learn more about TROVE predictive analytics that enables utilities to better predict consumer behavior and demand for energy.     

BLOOMBERG LAUNCHES FUND TO IMPROVE DATA USE
One hundred mid-sized U.S. cities can now apply to Bloomberg Philanthropies for technical assistance, expertise and peer learning opportunities, through What Works Cities, to enhance their use of data to engage the public and increase the effectiveness of local government decision making.       

BUILDING GREEN DISTRICTS
The new term “green districts ” refers to densely populated urban areas that employ technology and design elements to reduce resource use and pollution.  Learn more about how green districts operate and their economic and quality of life benefits.
 
SUSTAINABLE PROCUREMENT
The Seoul Metropolitan Government and ICLEI have partnered to create a network of leading cities that will share and develop capacities to implement sustainable and innovative procurement practices.  

LOS ANGELES COMMUNITY TO BECOME CULTURAL ECODISTRICT   
The Little Tokyo neighbourhood in Los Angeles, one of the country’s most important Asian-American communities, has undertaken a robust planning exercise to preserve cultural and arts heritage, while accommodating new transit lines and related development pressures.        

 

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Bruce McLeod

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