If sustainability action plans and eco-districts were three legged stools, most would fall over. Environmental and economic sustainability are typically well-accounted for in these plans, but as San Diego UrbDeZine writes, social sustainability, is often an afterthought. However, marginalized communities face a high share of environmental degradation and as poverty sprawls outwards, it will be impossible to successfully address environmental sustainability without a legitimate social component. Looking forward, city-makers that can create three strong sustainability legs will have lucrative prospects, and a stool for cities to sit on.
In the 50 years since the release of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs‘ work has been celebrated and critiqued in a diversity of ways. Best known for exuding the benefits of walkable, human-scale neighbourhoods, her introduction of the “web way of thinking” to urbanism is an under-appreciated contribution. Planetizen emphasizes this in a list of Jane Jacobs’ 10 most important (and misunderstood) lessons. City-making professions are taking steps towards holistic perspectives and diminished silos, but a half-century on, Jane’s work still has many lessons to offer.
Digital technology is becoming ever-more pervasive and the world is increasingly urban. The simultaneous rise of these trends find us at a unique intersection in space and time. In a reflective interview with Smart Circle that ranges from urban mobility and citizen participation to cyber terrorism and the future of sharing, Carlo Ratti, director of MIT’s Senseable City Lab aims to make sense of these changes. It’s a worthwhile read, particularly for those seeking to connect the “smart” city with it’s citizens.
Two years ago, the City of Portland turned to the local software industry to make its RFP process more effective and efficient. In response, local firm Switchboard offered a simple “Ask & Offer” approach. Recognizing that departments, firms and others may know what the challenge is, but not how (or who) to best solve it, Switchboard connects users who have requests or offers. The solution has effectively connected start-ups and City departments, while also supporting the local tech industry. Read more at Next City.
Transit organizations in many sprawled cities struggle to provide quality service. To fill the gap, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (GA) partnered with Uber to provide first-last mile connections to improve service and attract new customers. MARTA will also test-run free WiFi on city buses to enhance their services. Read more about their initiatives.
While a resurgence in mixed-use development has contributed to more human-scale districts, Färgfabriken‘s Jan Ryden argues in a recent article for Volume, that it often lacks the diversity Jane Jacobs championed, driving up costs and limiting fine grain development. He proposes the re-application of Christopher Alexander’s design language to urbanism. The article critiques large developers but, ironically, this strategy could create new business opportunities for these very companies.
As the lines between our digital and physical lives becomes more blurred, the Internet of Things is moving from idea to reality. Proponents envision complete networks of smart technologies that will help cities to operate more efficiently, improving a range of urban elements including mobility, energy consumption and the management of utilities. But concerns continue to swirl around data ownership and cost. Read the full story.
In response to social, demographic and technological changes, the car industry is working around the clock to develop self-driving cars. As companies like Google and Tesla continue to innovate, automated mobility is poised to become a reality. What socioeconomic changes might accompany the rise of autonomous vehicles? Read about a series of potential impacts that Eric Verhulst from MOVE FORWARD proposes as well cases in favour and against self-driving cars.
Improved web access is accompanied by economic and social opportunities. Not everybody in cities can regularly connect to the internet however. Recognizing that, cities around the world are exprimenting with citywide free WiFi access through creative infrastructure retrofits. Could adding solar-powered wireless hotspots to trash and recycling bins on the streets improve public WiFi access? New York City has been testing integrated wifi with garbage bins to tackle internet inequality.
In an era where the average person creates more data before breakfast than George Washington did in his entire life, citymakers are becoming more attuned to the power of data. Recording, measuring, and organizing city data falls into the rapidly developing field of urban science. Wondering what this field involves, how urban data is used and who’s leading its development? Planetizen has compiled a helpful list of resources for you!