Archive for the ‘Cities’ Category
” Will Self confesses to being dazzled by the skyscrapers that dominate urban skylines, but wonders if they have overshadowed visionary dreams of making cities better places to live.It was said of the French writer Guy de Maupassant that he ate dinner in the restaurant of the Eiffel Tower every night of the week, and when asked why, replied, “Because its the only place in Paris from where you cant see the Eiffel Tower.” “
AN : lovely little literary walk starting within the heart of London and thenceforth into the realm of thought of architecture and the core value of living in cities. Much, much more can be said on this topic….as residents who live in cities vary from 9% urban dwellers in Bhutan to 97% in Belgium. ( world avg 50+% ).
via BBC News – A Point of View: Staring at the Shard.
“Attention, London residents: If your Malay is feeling rusty and in need of conversational oil, try heading to the neighborhood just north of Kensington Gardens. That’s where Austronesians are chatting up a storm, according to this fascinating map of London’s languages.
The clamorous cartography is the result of nifty computer analysis by Ed Manley and James Cheshire, both students at the University College London. (You might recall Cheshire from his map of London last names.) They used a tweaked Google Chrome algorithm to examine more than 3 million tweets sent by London inhabitants this summer. By the end of their dogged data-sifting, they had detected more than 60 languages including Tamil, Maltese, Tibetan, Urdu and Afrikaans.
With the help of geolocation, they then plotted the 10 most frequently spoken languages to create the colorful and informative metropolis you see below (interactive version here):
AN : an interesting application …. how do we see cities ? Depending on what overlay of criteria , you might be quite surprised what you find.
via London’s Raucous Babble of Languages – Neighborhoods – The Atlantic Cities.
“Growth is a mantra that cities, as well as nations and states, everywhere quest after. A growing number of economists caution that growth for growth’s sake does not necessarily equate to higher living standards or increased happiness. A blue-ribbon international commission headed by Nobel Prize-winning economists Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen has called for new, broader measures of economic performance and social progress. Plus, not all “growth” is the same. I’ve previously called attention to “growth without growth,” the misguided notion that adding population equals economic growth. “
via Is Your Region Innovative, Productive, Creative, or Just Populated? – Jobs & Economy – The Atlantic Cities.
AN : we need to measure ourselves, our Cities and Countries with scales and aspects that do not only focus on fiscal and numerical aspects. Education opportunites, arts, cultural and recreational amenities, nature and sport venues etc are extremely meaningful. Why are they most often overlooked ? Probably because the trained individuals are trained in the thoughts and tools of economic measures. The article provokes us to more such aspects.
“Honduras is set to play SimCity for real, albeit without the economist who devised the rules of the game. Last Tuesday, the government signed an agreement with private investors led by Michael Strong–a libertarian entrepreneur and close associate of Whole Foods co-founder and CEO John Mackey–to construct a city-from-scratch in one of at least three special development regions (“las Regiones Especiales de Desarrollo” or “REDs”) scattered around the country.”
AN : the article is a backgrounder in the attempt to set up a novel solution to expedite economic development at an country level via establishing a ”govenance within a governance structure ” model ….. starting in Honduras.
via Coming Soon: A Privately Run City To Create Development In The Developing World | Co.Exist: World changing ideas and innovation.
“Investments in Smarter systems often cut across organisations and budgets and many have objectives that are macro-economic, social and environmental, as well as financial. As such, they challenge existing accounting mechanisms. Whilst central government and the financial markets offer new investment solutions such as ethical funds, social impact bonds and city deals, so far these have not been used to fund the majority of Smarter solutions – many of which are supported by research programmes. The Technology Strategy Board’s investment in areas such as “Future Cities” and the “Connected Digital Economy” will provide a tremendous boost, but there is much to be done to assist cities in using new investment sources to fund Smarter initiatives – or to develop sustainable commercial or social-enterprise business models to deliver them.
Although progress can be driven by strong leadership, the issues of governance and fragmented budgets will need to be overcome if we are to take full advantage of the benefits technology can bring.
We live in an era of major global challenges – well described in the recent “People and the Planet” report by the Royal Society. At the same time, we have access to powerful new technologies and ideas to address them, such as those proposed by the 100 Academics who contributed essays to the book “The New Optimists”. When we focus those resources on cities, we focus on the structures in which we can have the greatest impact on the most people.
Already many forward-looking cities in the UK such as Sunderland and Birmingham are joining others around the world by investing in Smarter systems.
If we can meet the technical, organisational and investment challenges, we will not only provide citizens, businesses and agencies with new choices and exciting opportunities; we’ll also position the UK economy to succeed as the Information Revolution gathers pace.
(This post was first published as part of the “Growth Factory” report from the thinktank TLG Lab). “
via How Cities Can Exploit the Information Revolution | Sustainable Cities Collective.
What Smart Cities are and research on ways to make cities more integrated and efficient in their operations and design in order to manifest the best practices for delivery of information , services and liveability.
A top 10 global ranking is included :
“The term “smart cities” is a bit ambiguous. Some people choose a narrow definition–i.e. cities that use information and communication technologies to deliver services to their citizens. I prefer a broader definition: Smart cities use information and communication technologies (ICT) to be more intelligent and efficient in the use of resources, resulting in cost and energy savings, improved service delivery and quality of life, and reduced environmental footprint–all supporting innovation and the low-carbon economy.”
Elaboration in the complete article :
via The Top 10 Smart Cities On The Planet | Co.Exist: World changing ideas and innovation.
“Since the industrial revolution the process of urbanisation has become ever more resource-intensive, significantly contributing to climate change and to the loss of soil carbon, the natural fertility of farmland, and the world’s biodiversity. Our ravenous appetite for resources from the world’s ecosystems has severe consequences for all life on Earth, including human life. Cities have developed resource consumption and waste disposal habits that show little concern for the environmental consequences.
Fortunately in some places this seems to be changing. In the past decade concepts that capture the idea of how to future-proof our cities have arisen worldwide: smart cities, liveable cities, sustainable cities, intelligent cities, resilient cities.
Each concept implies different solutions. Sustainable cities is often the umbrella term as it includes environmental, economic and social dimensions and is in line with the wider discourse of sustainable development. However it is often criticised for being too nebulous and vague.
Because so much damage has already been done to the world’s ecosystems, and solutions need to be found to reverse it, the challenge today is no longer just to create sustainable cities but truly regenerative cities.
Smart or intelligent cities focus on technology solutions. By implementing highly efficient technological systems that use fewer resources for the same service it tries to reduce the ecological footprint of a city. A major concern here is the danger of a rebound effect, where efficiency gains in resources are counteracted by a behavioural response to thus use much more of them again.
Resilient cities is a rather passive terminology that looks at how cities can build resistance against future shocks and stresses, such as from climate change and peak oil. It is about lasting and making it through a crisis rather than trying to stop the development that causes the crisis.
Finally liveable cities primarily aims at replacing sprawl with compact, human scale urbanisation. It recognises and tries to combat the negative impact of our built environment on physical, social and mental health. The focus is very much on the quality of human life that has to be secured against the challenges ahead.
THE REGENERATIVE CITY
However because so much damage has already been done to the world’s ecosystems, and solutions need to be found to reverse it, the challenge today is no longer just to create sustainable cities but truly regenerative cities: to assure that they do not just become resource-efficient and low-carbon-emitting, but that they positively enhance rather than undermine the ecosystem services they receive from beyond their boundaries. A wide range of technical and management solutions towards this end are already available, but so far implementation has been slow and slight.
This concept seeks to redress the relationship between cities and their hinterland, and beyond that with the more distant territories that supply them with water, food, timber and other vital resources. We need to re-enrich the landscapes on which cities depend, including measures to increase their capacity to absorb carbon.
Creating a restorative relationship between cities, their hinterlands and the world beyond means harnessing new opportunities in financial, technological, policy and business practices. The transformative changes required call for far-reaching strategic choices and long-term planning rather than short-term compromises and patchwork solutions that characterise most of our political decision-making systems.”
via Sustainable is not enough: a call for regenerative cities | The Global Urbanist.
“Sports and the City
The next generation of sports venues is an integral part of the urban scene. That’s changing how they serve cities, sponsors, owners, teams, and fans.
Sports venues are in flux. The costs of building and operating them have shot up while the public’s appetite for funding them with tax revenues has zeroed out. That’s changing the game for sports franchises. Yet cost is not the only driver, says Gensler’s Ron Turner. “Sports venues today are focused on hospitality. They contain more clubs, food-and-beverage options, and retail offerings—and give fans more access to information about the game—than ever before.”
Sports venues are also focused on the city. Today’s stadiums and arenas are much more likely to be located in transit-friendly urban sports/entertainment districts than in peripheral one-use sites. They can host events beyond sports, building creatively on their associations with sponsor brands. Their synergy with the adjoining district generates new revenue streams for both. This
is a paradigm shift for the industry, turning sports venues into all-purpose entertainment centers.”
“People don’t realize what a huge financial crisis cities are in, and that they need to come up with new ways to get by in the next decade,” says Pahlka. Beyond the immediate effects this can have on the lives of residents, dissatisfaction with city governance can sour them on the entire civic process. “It ties back to citizens’ expectations and interactions with government,” she says. “On a day to day level, citizens are interacting with their cities.”
Serving citizens and improving civic engagement are core goals for Code for America. “Early on, we settled on three major things we were trying to do: openness and transparency, engagement, and efficiency,” she says. “There are a lot of efficiencies to be gained in the government, but we’re most interested in opportunities where we are opening it up to the citizens and doing all three.” Perhaps most crucially, the organization requires that all web applications their Fellows develop for pilot cities can be deployed by other cash-strapped municipalities.
Code for America chooses a limited number of cities from a set of applicants each year to target its efforts. Once chosen, the non-profit dispatches teams of Code for America Fellows—volunteer software engineers, designers, community organizers and more who pledge a year to the program—to work with city managers and citizens to identify web-based solutions to the cities’ needs.
“We’re looking for cities where there’s enough political will and broad support for trying different things,” Pahlka says. “It’s not hard to find a city where there’s one or two people interested in a new approach, but it’s harder to find cities where that appetite for change is more broad-based.”
via Shareable: Code For America’s Vision for Peer-to-Peer City Governance.
The so-called “town and gown” relationship between cities and universities has become increasingly important in recent years. As universities contribute more and more to the local economy through research, reputation and building, they’re seen not only as educational and cultural institutions, but economic development tools. But how much should cities rely on universities?
This essentially was the question posed to four university professors at a panel discussion in Los Angeles. Hosted by Zocalo Public Square and moderated by The Chronicle for Higher Education editor Jeff Selingo, the event asked whether universities can save cities.
“We really can’t believe that universities can save cities,” said Gene Block, chancellor at the University of California Los Angeles. He argues that even though universities contribute to a city’s culture and economy, they can’t be fully relied upon to solve major foundational problems should they arise.
And so far they haven’t, according to Rice University President David Leebron.
“I don’t really see it so much as a question of whether universities can save cities. Cities generically aren’t really in any danger,” Leebron said. “The real question, I think, is can universities make our cities more competitive, and more competitive on a global scale?”
Leebron said universities can play a major role in helping cities provide jobs and education that attract people and businesses from all over the world.
“That’s both in terms of what they can contribute to the economic advancement of the city, but also importantly what the universities contribute to the quality of life in the city and the quality of governance in the city,” Leebron said.
Arizona State University President Michael Crow said that universities will continue to be a part of ensuring a city’s economic success, but also that they will be a key part of a wider scale regional economic cohesiveness. He points to the concept of megapolitan regions, in which ten major clusters of metropolitan areas in the U.S. are expected to be home to about 80 percent of the country’s future population.
“The role of the universities in each of them is not to save the cities, because they are what they are,” Crow said. “It’s whether or not in the United States the universities can be facilitative of our megapolitans being competitive and at the same time have some concept of economic justice in the way that they evolve.”
The university heads pointed to some of the benefits they bring to the community, such as an increased involvement in K-12 education. But they also touched on the more physical side of university building projects. University of Southern California President C.L. Max Nikias pointed to a massive mixed use project the university is pursuing right off campus in South L.A. It will be the largest redevelopment project in the history of that part of town.
And though the university clearly is a developer, it’s not only a developer, according to Nikias.
“This university is in the business of educating people and doing research. We’re not a real estate company,” Nikias said.
Unsurprisingly, the four university heads spun their relationship with their cities in a positive light. None were willing to argue that their cities wouldn’t survive without them. But the link between the two is undeniably powerful. And as these universities and the knowledge-based economy they enable become more important, the interrelationship between universities and cities will become even closer.
via Do Cities Need Universities to Survive? – Jobs & Economy – The Atlantic Cities.