Innovation News March 31, 2015

MIAMI’S PROGRESS TOWARD WALKABILITY
A new Miami project, Biscayne Green, will transform a major downtown corridor as an important step in increasing the city’s walkability.  The project involves a major makeover of a six block stretch of Biscayne Boulevard to move from “autocentric” to pedestrian use.

ONTARIO WALK FRIENDLY COMMUNITIES      
The City of Kitchener and the Town of Smiths Falls have been recognized by Canada Walks for walkability initiatives.  The WALK Friendly Communities designations encourage practical, measurable steps to creating safe, convenient neighbourhoods.     

COMPLETE STREETS IN THE GREATER GOLDEN HORSESHOE (GGH) REGION
The Toronto Centre of Active Transportation, the Clean air Partnership and the University of Toronto and Ryerson University have partnered to produce an evaluation of complete streets in GGH communities.  The report examines the practices, challenges and opportunities of complete streets initiatives.

DENSIFICATION OF METRO VANCOUVER MALLS      
A number of Metro Vancouver malls with easy access to transit, are planning to build residential and office towers on land used for surface parking. The objectives relate to increasing jobs, residential development, cultural and recreation facilities and the creation of vibrant suburban cores.   
    
SHEFFIELD DEVELOPS ADVANCED MANUFACTURING INNOVATION DISTRICT

Sheffield, UK has applied the innovation district model to advanced manufacturing, one of the most innovative sectors in the UK and U.S.  Learn more about the nature of advanced manufacturing and the city’s strategic approach.

GLOW-IN-THE-DARK ROADS
Light absorbing glow-in-the-dark-road markings have replaced streetlights on a stretch of highway in the Netherlands.  The glow from the road markings is created by the use of photo-luminescent powder integrated into road paint. The trial project is being assessed in terms of the durability of the paint, cost savings from reduced street lighting power and potential enhancements from the application of technology.

USING MULTIFAMILY PROJECTS TO CREATE URBAN PLACES
While most communities have development provisions that apply typical requirements to multifamily projects,  some developers view their housing projects as urban places with frontages that encourage urban activity.  Learn more about streetscape design elements that shape urban experiences in multifamily communities.   
   
CITIES THAT ARE GOING CAR-FREE

An increasing number of cities are promoting car-free neighbourhoods through a variety of measures including fines, better design and new technology.  Learn more about some examples of car-free approaches being pursued in some international cities.   

RECYCLING ELECTRONICS
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), e-waste is the fastest growing municipal waste stream in the country.  While e-waste recycling laws exist in a number of states and local jurisdictions, there are some additional key initiatives that can be undertaken to supplement by-law enforcement.

COMPARING MILLENNIALS TO EARLIER GENERATIONS
A new interactive graphic from the Pew Research Center compares Millennials with generations from past decades to demonstrate changes in experiences and socio-economic impacts.    

ASSESSING URBAN PARKLETS
The urban parklet, a conversion of curbside parking spots or other unused public space into a small park, began in San Francisco about a decade ago.  Learn more about the findings of a report from the University City District in Philadelphia on what parklets can achieve and their community impacts.

IMPACTS OF VEHICLE AUTOMATION
With the advent of vehicle automation technology and the potential for its ongoing development, there is an increasing focus on research to test new technology for automated vehicles on roadways.  The Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority is undertaking a project to design an automated roadway system that communicates with local drivers and buses.   

TRACKING THE CITY’S COLLECTIVE MEMORY  
A recent study (Alberto Hernando de Castro) finds that in U.S. cities population dynamics in a given year are significantly related to those of every preceding year, going back to a half century. The contention that cities have a “memory” and another finding that cities within 125 miles of each other influence respective population growth, could help predict demographic and economic trends.     

ASSESSING URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE SYSTEMS
Urban Infrastructure Insights 2015 investigates city infrastructure systems, their importance for economic growth and a range of obstacles to effective infrastructure and service delivery.

MANAGING CLIMATE CHANGE CHALLENGES IN COASTAL CITIES     
A PlannersWeb publication examines the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut area development of adaptation and mitigation strategies to improve the level of resilience in regional municipal responses to climate change impacts.  

SEATTLE’S BICYCLE MASTER PLAN
The American Planning Association (APA) has created a video presentation, “Bike Seattle ” that addresses the city’s Bicycle Master Plan, bicycling culture and infrastructure.

HOW OPEN DATA INCREASES TRANSPARENCY   
Many local governments have discovered that sharing data with citizens leads to the development of new apps, online maps and other tools and innovative products that improve local service delivery and decision making.  Learn more about municipal standards for open data and its administration.       

SMARTER TRAFFIC SIGNALS
Transportation experts claim that improving traffic light synchronization and operation can reduce congestion, cut fuel costs and air pollution and increase road safety.  Many transportation agencies are applying a range of high-tech tools to even out traffic flows and provide new data to pinpoint problem spots.  

CITIZEN ENGAGEMENT RESOURCES
The ICMA has assembled a list of tools and techniques that can lead to more effective citizen engagement activities to improve local public participation and decision making.  

LOCAL GOVERNMENT DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS  
Local governments have been focused on the use of innovative digital technologies to connect with citizens.  Learn more about these efforts and the results of a recent U.S. survey, “What’s New in Digital Communications for Local Government.”  

LONDON LEADS IN RANKING OF WORLD’S SMARTEST CITIES
The City of London ranks first in the list of the world cities using the Cities in Motion Index (CIMI) prepared by the Center for Globalization and Strategy.  The CIMI is a composite index that assesses the level of development of 148 cities worldwide using 66 indicators.   

ACCOMODATING OLDER PEOPLE IN URBAN AREAS   
The Guardian has recently published an article that outlines key practical urban design considerations for aging city residents.  Learn more about some resources that support development of physical and social environments that can enable people to “age actively.”   

CONVERTING PARKING SPACE TO BIKE LANES
There is a continuing debate on the impacts on local businesses of converting street parking space to bike lanes.  A review of studies in some major urban areas may support a conclusion that there is little negative impact and possibly some positive impact on local business. 
 
LOCAL FOOD SYSTEM TOOLKIT

A new Agricultural Urbanism Toolkit produced by Iowa State University offers communities the planning tools necessary to promote and support urban farming projects.  

THE PHASES OF NEW URBANISM
New Urbanism has been emerging slowly through some key phases.  Learn more about the development of New Urbanism focus from a large project greenfield movement to planning for more integrated, rationalized street networks.   

HALIFAX SEEKS INCREASED VOTER PARTICIPATION
The Halifax Regional Municipality has undertaken a public engagement process to promote discussion and ideas on ways to increase voter participation in municipal elections.  Learn more about the Shape Your City Halifax portal.

VANCOUVER LOW RISE INTENSIFICATION   
The Union Street EcoHeritage project in Vancouver is a leading example of low rise intensification that helps provide affordable market housing.  

THE UN GLOBAL COMPACT CITIES PROGRAM
The United Nations Global Compact Cities Program promotes ten principles related to the development, implementation and disclosure of urban sustainability policies and practices.  The program focuses on collaboration between all levels of government, business and civil society.    

A NEW GENERATION OF SMART CITIES   
Analysts predict that by 2025 there will be 88 cities meeting the sustainability, open data/government and integrated information, communications and technology criteria for smart cities, up from the current number of 21 today.  Learn more about some of the newer additions to the list.      

AFFORDABLE HOUSING STRATEGIES
Well-designed, quality affordable housing can strengthen communities. The Urban Land Institute (ULI) has identified key strategies that lead to effective affordable housing projects.  

MOVING CITIES BEYOND PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT
A recent Pew Charitable Trusts publication assesses opportunities for local governments to move beyond traditional performance measurement, using new data sets and innovative analytical tools to help manage urban challenges.   

BARCELONA, PHILADELPHIA LEAD NEW PROCUREMENT MODELS     
The City of Barcelona has developed a new less proscriptive approach to procurement that encourages greater innovation and creativity by bidders responding to tenders.  Philadelphia has created the new “business accelerator” program called FastFWD  to encourage a greater range of innovative companies to submit proposals on city projects.  Learn more about the impacts of these initiatives.   
 
ROOFTOP GARDENS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Rooftop gardens not only help reduce air pollution, they also add usable urban green space.  Learn more   about some leading roof garden designs
 
HOW PARIS IS TACKLING URBAN ISSUES

The City of Paris has redoubled efforts to clean its air, broaden housing access and streamline transit.  Some of the city’s approaches may be too interventionist for comparable jurisdictions, but they are having remedial impacts.

CANADA’S “HOUSING FIRST“ APPROACH TO HOMELESSNESS
A recent Toronto St. Michael’s Hospital study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on the “housing first” approach in five Canadian cities found that giving mentally ill homeless people help in securing housing and support services  was effective in housing stability.    

REIMAGINING CITIES
CityEngine, a new 3-D planning software product (Esri), enables users to visualize specific new urban design features, that can be added to basic street views and building footprints.   

INNOVATION IN EUROPE’S CITIES
A new report, “Innovation in Europe’s Cities,” prepared by the LSE Cities on the 2014 Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge, provides an overview of the issues facing European cities and an analysis of the 155 submissions and winning Mayors Challenge proposals.

THE 100 RESILIENT CITIES CHALLENGE
In a recent CitiesToday interview, Michael Berkowitz, President of 100 Resilient Cities, provides perspectives on the role of his organization and its progress in supporting Chief Resilience Officers in cities around the world.  

ACTION-PACKED SIGNS COULD REDUCE PEDESTRIAN ACCIDENTS    
New research from the University of Michigan published in the Journal of Consumer Research finds that people react measurably faster to warning signs that depict greater movement.  More perceived movement increases an observer’s perception of risk, in turn leading to remedial actions.

CHANGING SURBURBAN TOWN CENTRES
A recent Builder article discusses new projects by a number of U.S. builders that focus on multi-family and smaller single family unit development near walkable suburban town centres.  Creating an urban experience in a suburb within a short drive or walking distance to public transportation appeals those who cannot afford to live in major downtown cores.     

ENGAGING CITIZENS TO SOLVE URBAN PROBLEMS
As cities confront new major climate events, such as the record snowfall this year in Boston, traditional emergency responses may be too expensive, environmentally unfriendly or just not possible to implement.  Learn more about how new citizen engagement efforts can help solve these challenges.  
 
EDMONTON’S INFILL TOOLKIT
The City of Edmonton has recognized the need to support more and better approaches to residential infill.  The city’s 2015 Infill Action Conversation Toolkit, is designed to promote informed conversations about neighborhood infill proposals.   

EFFECTIVE SOCIAL MEDIA POLICIES
Local governments have recognized that social media is an integral part of citizen and community engagement, through information sharing and gauging public opinion on service delivery and other public projects.  Learn more about some key considerations in developing and implementing social media policies.   

ANALYZING DATA TO FIGHT CRIME
Police in Washington, D.C. have implemented a commercial robbery reduction plan known as “1828.” The plan is based on a predictive analysis of specific business corridors where robberies were concentrated and other convenience store locations that were viewed as most likely to be targeted by robbers.    

THE GREEN TRANSFORMATION OF TORONTO’S WATERFRONT LANDS
A key consideration in the Waterfront Toronto revitalization mandate is the eco-friendly focus on development industry provision of energy efficient systems, onsite renewable energy generation, water and energy conservation, green roofs and provision of space for bicycles and electric vehicles.       
 

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Bruce McLeod

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