Innovation News May 2015



OMAHA DESIGNS A BETTER TRANSIT SYSTEM
The City of Omaha FORWARD plan reconfigures bus networks to emphasize greater frequency, better night and weekend service, direct lines in high ridership corridors and grid- style access to many parts of the city.

MEASURES TO PROMOTE COMPLETE STREETS
A recent SustainableCitiesCollective article assesses U.S. urban Complete Streets policies to suggest 21 measures to promote pedestrianism and more successful complete streets initiatives.

ARLINGTON COUNTY FOCUSES ON CAR-REE COMMUTES    
Arlington County, Virginia has developed a new website, CarFreeAtoZ, Washington Region’s first multimodal trip planning and comparison tool.  The tool assists area employees to better appreciate car-free commute options and to show employers where they could locate to capture a more transit-friendly workforce.

EVIDENCE BASED URBAN DESIGN
Can Smart Cities technology, i.e. the transition from analogue to digital, move cities toward real time measurements and a more holistic, systems based approach to city planning and design?  Learn more  about some examples of data design and what the digital city can mean.     

SEOUL’S SKYGARDEN  
The City of Seoul has spent the last year deciding how to renovate a long stretch of highway overpass running through the city before deciding on launching the Seoul Skygarden or urban nursery.    

JAPANESE LOCAL GOVERNMENTS REGULATE DRONES
About half of Japan’s 47 prefectural and 20 ordinance-designated city governments have prohibited or are considering a ban on drone flights in locations that attract large numbers of people.  Local ordinances on parks and building management have been used to prohibit flying drones.  

CALGARY’S REVITALIZATION EFFORTS          
The City of Calgary has one of the strongest performing urban economies in Canada and city leaders do not want there to be a changed perception that the city has a boom and bust economy.   Learn more about the city’s efforts to create “resilient prosperity.”

THE IMPORTANCE OF MUNICIPAL ASSET MANAGEMENT
Gord Hume, a leading writer and speaker on municipal government, recently gave the keynote address at the Canadian Network of Asset Managers Conference in Vancouver.  Learn more about his views on municipal asset management.

MINNEAPOLIS PLANNERS ASSESS BRT VERSUS STREETCARS
Minneapolis researchers are weighing the effectiveness of bus rapid transit (BRT) versus streetcar lines to determine which mode encourages the greatest amount of transit oriented development on underutilized land.    

TORONTO TACKLES INCLUSIONARY HOUSING  
Like other rapidly growing urban centres, the City of Toronto is struggling to develop quality affordable housing options. Learn more about the city’s challenges and its focus on Inclusionary Housing as policy tool.     

PLANNING FOR A FINANCIAL CRISIS
Governments will continue to face financial stresses and some are able to respond nimbly while others do not.  Anticipating the next financial crisis, governments should consider developing a financial crisis policy, including a library of strategies that could be employed to deal with financial challenges.

SEATTLE POLICY TO REDUCE RELIANCE ON CARS
While for years Seattle has been diligent in assessing new development proposals, to reduce residential parking in order to make housing more affordable, efforts have yielded mixed results.  City Council is considering a new approach that would require developers to offer new residents a range of alternative transportation options, to reduce parking demand.   

THE AMERICAN COMMUNITY SURVEY       
The American Community Survey (ACS), is the largest household survey in the United States, covering every geographic area of the country and providing  uniform information about local social, economic and demographic characteristics.  The U.S. survey is a key resource for local government policy development and is mandatory, unlike the Canadian voluntary version of the survey.  

USING SOCIAL MEDIA FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT
Increasingly, police services are using social media to crowdsource information from the public to assist in law enforcement.  Examples include pushing amber alerts to smartphones and wanted information and crime tips to Facebook and Twitter users and the use of new apps to streamline information sharing.

THE ADVENT OF AUTONOMOUS CARS    
While manufacturers are introducing vehicles with a range of automated features, financial, regulatory and technological hurdles continue to the full development and broad introduction of autonomous vehicles. However, experts predict that self-driving cars will be introduced to city streets within the next twenty years.   Learn more  about the anticipated planning impacts of autonomous cars.

THE FISCAL IMPLICATIONS OF DEVELOPMENT PATTERNS
Smart Growth America has created a new model to assist municipalities in assessing the financial performance in terms of costs and revenues of development patterns and to develop land use strategies that lead to better fiscal returns in the future.   

CREATIVE NEIGHBOURHOODS
A new study published in the journal Regional Studies, examines the types of neighbourhoods that attract high-tech industries as opposed to those that foster the arts and culture and their varying land use and industrial characteristics.   

ASSESSING SAN FRANCISCO’S VISION ZERO INITIATIVE
San Francisco was one of the first U.S. cities to adopt a Zero Vision initiative to increase street safety and reduce traffic fatalities.  Learn more about “Street Score 2015:  Annual Report Card on Walking,” and the city’s progress in pedestrian safety.      

LEARNING FROM THE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM
A new tool, Transit Visualization Client or TRAVIC, combines public data from 249 transportation networks across five continents, in one animated map to provide a broad picture of the movements of global transit networks and an opportunity to analyze how these systems work.    
   
THE ADVANTAGES OF BUS RAPID TRANSIT
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) offers many of the features of light rail, at a fraction of the cost.  BRT uses segregated lanes, moving people faster than regular bus service given fewer stops, station design and level boarding, technology, prepayment operation.  Learn more about the experiences of Curitiba and Los Angeles and some BRT best practices.    

NEW FUND TO IMPROVE URBAN DATA USE
Bloomberg Philanthropies has launched a new initiative, What Works Cities, to provide technical assistance, expertise and peer group learning opportunities, to enhance the local government use of data in decision making and program development.  
 
TACKLING HOUSING AFFORDABILITY  
At the recent 2015 American Planning Association (APA) National Planning Conference, delegate discussions focused on assessing housing affordability challenges and remedial initiatives.  Learn more about related housing presentations and discussions.    

SMART GROWTH TOOLS
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed guidelines for designing sustainable development, that serve as a checklist for incorporating smart growth elements.    
     
CITIES MOVE TOWARD ENVIRONMENTAL RESILIENCE   
Cites around the world have become the locus for significant progress towards energy efficiency and a low carbon future.  Learn more about the continuing efforts of five major cities in managing climate change.

SAN FRANCISCO’S NEW APPROACH TO BIKE LANES   
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will begin construction of an elevated pathway in the city’s Mission District of a raised bike lane designed to lower cycling accidents and injuries. The initial construction project will be followed by other designated locations in future years.       

NEW INTERACTIVE BUDGET APP
A new interactive infographic app, Balancing Act , enables users to manipulate budget numbers to see impacts on projected deficits/surpluses, tax impacts or the need to rescale services.  The tool has been used at the municipal level to inform taxpayers of the local budget process and budget balancing challenges.       

LEAN DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION   
Lean design and construction is an approach that identifies what is valuable in a construction project and assesses work processes to remove waste.  Learn more about lean design principles and considerations.  

PEDESTRIAN AND BICYCLE TRANSPORTATION HANDBOOK
A new guide from the U.S. Transportation Research Board, assists local governments to prioritize improvements to pedestrian and cycling facilities in the context of an a “complete streets” approach to transportation planning.

SURVEY ASSESSES U.S. POLICING EFFORTS
A recent U.S. survey by management consulting firm Accenture, conducted in late 2014 in 14 large metropolitan areas, focused on citizen expectations of the delivery and need for improvement in police services.   Learn more about the survey results.

LIVE TRAIN NYC
A web app, Live Train NYC, based on live train locations from the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), allows users to filter the transit system map by route in real time, click on specific trains to see arrival times and check schedules for given stations.     

CITY DESIGN FOR AGING BABY BOOMERS
A new OECD report, “Ageing in Cities,” examines nine OECD cities from around the world to identify social service, health care and housing challenges posed by an aging population. The report also suggests remedial design solutions for related infrastructure and development patterns.  

THE POTENTIAL OF BIG DATA FOR PLANNING     
Planners, designers and developers are using big data to improve urban environments and quality of life.  Using planning and data visualization, detailed simulations can be developed that enable modeling of complex relationships among energy, transportation, water/waste water infrastructure and environmental design elements.       

ULI LAUNCHES HOUSING PORTAL
The Urban Land Institute (ULI) has developed a new interdisciplinary online portal, “How Housing Matters,” that focuses on the role of housing in community well-being.

CHARLOTTE HOMELESS PROJECT SAVES TAX DOLLARS
A new University of North Carolina at Charlotte report concludes that an $11 million plan to house the city’s 500 plus chronically homeless people in apartments resulted in substantially less visits to emergency rooms, fewer hospital stays, a reduction in arrests and less jail time for apartment residents.  
 
SHENZHEN, CHINA STRATEGIES FOR SUSTAINABLE TRANSIT DEVELOPMENT
The City of Shenzhen is meeting is rapidly increasing need for public transit infrastructure by experimenting with alternative financing approaches and sustainable transit oriented development (TOD) through flexible zoning and greater planning integration.

ARE CITIES OUTGROWING AUTOMOBILES?
City populations have a growing appetite for alternatives to the car and some cities in Europe and beyond are responding to these emerging preferences.  Learn more about progressive urban transportation policies and market adaptations.  

GROWING LOCAL FOOD SYSTEMS
A recent International City/County Management Association (ICMA) report features four case studies that outline various forms of local government support for local food systems.

THE VALUE OF MUNICIPAL DATA ANALYTICS  
As city leaders continue to assess all aspects of government operation to improve performance and efficiency, there is greater recognition of the need for transformational initiatives to improve outcomes, including predictive data analytics.

RECLAIMING POLLUTED LAND
The City of Amsterdam experimental project, De Ceuval, adjacent to the city centre, converted a polluted commercial shipyard into a development of office, studio and commercial space, that produces its own power and  minimizes waste.
 
STARTUPS AND CITY DESIGN
Urban Tech Radart identifies emerging technologies being used to solve urban problems.  Learn more http://money.cnn.com/2015/04/09/smallbusiness/smart-cities-startups/ about some recent startup initiatives that  impact building design and operation in urban areas.

 
THE SECRETS OF AWARD-WINNING CITIES
While technology application is a key component of improved municipal service delivery, a new report from the Center for the Business of Government that examines award-winning U.S. cities, finds that those cities recognized for innovation have adjusted their governance structures to develop new approaches and partnerships to enhance the benefits of technology application.  

THE FUTURE OF THE NYC SUBWAY SYSTEM    
Given New York City’s population and subway system ridership growth, the city is focusing on ways to expand the system. Learn more about the OneNYC citywide plan for city transportation, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) five year capital plan and financing options under consideration.  
 
CREATIVE CITY USE OF OPEN DATA   
Bloomberg Philanthropies has launched the $42 million What Works Cities initiative to improve city use of open data, by promoting new approaches to harvesting and analyzing open data. Learn more about some successful open data initiatives from New Orleans, San Francisco and Louisville.   

THE URBAN MICROTRANSIT MOVEMENT
The term “microtransit” refers to informal, flexible ride-sharing networks such as Leap Transit (San Francisco), dollar vans (New York City) or Bridj in Boston.  While the growth of these transportation options has been enabled by smartphone access and tends away from car ownership, even greater potential may rest with their integration with public transit.

THE RICHMOND CA MAIN STREET INITIATIVE   
The Richmond Main Street Initiative http://cityminded.org/bringing-back-a-downtown-13157  is a leading example of how creative strategies and strong leadership can bring back economic prosperity and healthy, vibrant neighbourhoods to once neglected downtowns.   

KEY URBAN TRENDS
Economic and demographic changes are leading to a new urban reality, with unique challenges and opportunities.  As cities become denser, smarter and more environmentally aware, urban professionals need to assess key trends that are converging to shape metropolitan areas.

LEARNING FROM THE USE OF POLICE BODY CAMERAS
Police officers in Chesapeake, Virginia have pioneered the use of dashboard and body-worn cameras to fight crime.  As the use of body cameras in police services grows, many U.S. cities have contacted the Chesapeake police to benefit from their experience in the use and standards for body cameras.   

PRIORITIES IN THE USE OF STREETS  
Defining objectives for specific streets is important for the design, function and safety of urban neighbourhoods.  Learn more about defining the character of streets as “links” or “places” and the associated priorities.
 
LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN A DIGITAL WORLD
Local governments are ramping up commitments to digital initiatives to reduce service costs and better engage citizens.  A recent publication, “Local Government in a Digital World,” outlines the latest applications that foster virtual local government.

THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT PERFORMANCE CONSORTIUM
The Washington State Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC) has recently launched the Government Performance Consortium to inspire innovation and build capacity by sharing perspectives and successes related to current and future local government challenges.   

Contact

Bruce McLeod

T 416.971.9856 ext. 350
TF 1.877.426.6527
F 416.971.6191