Blockchain is Making Distributed the New Default

Today’s blog post is part II of Peter Coffee’s series on blockchain. “The future of many things, based on blockchain and the larger family of connection-intensive and cooperative data models, is here – because it is distributed.”

Six Degrees of Acquisition: How to Improve Public Procurement

It is time to start compiling our information, experiences, and results in easy to share formats for our peers in cities, towns, and counties around the world to see and learn — in consumable volumes, at convenient times. Using the power of digital platforms and the availability of public data sets, governments can connect with others who are tackling the same issues. We must harness the fact that we are less than six degrees away from a successful acquisition.

Examining the Effects of Online Shopping on Last-Mile Freight

Featuring Dr. Alison Conway

In anticipation of tomorrow’s live webinar, we’ve spoken with Dr. Alison Conway regarding her research of last-mile freight issues in New York City. If you’re curious about what we’re going to discuss with Dr. Conway in tomorrow’s webinar, read on to today’s blog post and learn about how online shopping and on-demand delivery are affecting the streets and traffic patterns of New York City through delivery vehicles and issues of curb space zoning. Dr. Conway sheds light on the daily impacts to our cities from our online shopping habits, and talks about how we can change perceptions and policies to make progress.

3 Myths About Climate Adaptation Work

Urban areas are certainly important, but not exclusively so. Large swaths of population and economy reside in America’s suburbs, exurbs, and rural communities – each of which faces unique challenges that require tailored approaches. Americans outside urban areas not only recognize the impacts of climate change, they are driving unique adaptation approaches.

How to Design a Successful Open Data Program

How to Design a Successful Open Data Program

Medellín is special in that established local companies, NGOs, startups, students, and private citizens are all extremely dedicated to making their city a better place. It is part of the reason the city has been able to make so much social progress in such a short period of time. Thus, the Consejo de Datos Medellín (The Data Council Medellín) was born. Made up of representatives from the public sector, the city’s largest companies like Bancolombia and Sura, universities like UPB and EAFIT, startups, civic tech groups, and engaged citizens, the Consejo is a forum for open dialog about the city’s challenges, as well as a launching pad for data-driven projects that wouldn’t be possible without collaboration and input from all its members. 

The Rise of the Smart Precinct

The Rise of the Smart Precinct

Some experts argue that smart precincts should provide a more complex and ambitious mix of space uses and typologies in a way that that defies simple characterisation. This view goes against allowing one typology to dominate the mixed-use precinct, and sees real value in the intermix between several different functions.

The Evolution to a Smart & Sustainable City

The Evolution to a Smart & Sustainable City

Many cities in the U.S. and around the world have started the process of transformation from analog to smart and sustainable. The process tends to start with the implementation of a series of independent infrastructure systems connected to a digitally linked network....

5 Steps to Launch a Civic Crowdfunding Program in Your City

5 Steps to Launch a Civic Crowdfunding Program in Your City

Especially if the government is offering matching funds to participating groups, a civic crowdfunding platform should be able to carry the compliance burden for participants. Small volunteer-led organizations can be burdened by agencies’ requirements that they submit forms and receipts before receiving their matching funds. Similarly, the delay between purchase and reimbursement can severely restrict cash flow for groups with small or no budgets.

The Cognitive City

The Cognitive City

Designers, planners, developers, and architects are trained to look beyond the boundaries of their project or site. The larger environment, history, culture, and economies shape the urban landscape whether for small sites, neighborhoods, districts, towns or cities. The metropolitan region is now the platform from which cities interact with the globe. As a result, every project must push beyond static jurisdictional boundaries or simple property lines to the regional context. Expanding the domain always leads to more sustainable and powerful schemes. It is essential for planning in the 21st century.

Intelligent Urban Watersheds

Intelligent Urban Watersheds

Over the last few decades, hydraulic and hydrologic modelers have dramatically increased our understanding of urban watersheds; namely the built wastewater and stormwater infrastructure within their respective urban environments. These models have been manually tuned...

Ghana Needs Local Tax Revenues to Finance Sustainable City Services

As a result of these pilot projects, in Kadjebi, revenues doubled in just one year, and in Elmina, the tax collection base has been increased by a factor of 20 thanks to the implementation of billing and collection software and capacity building. Kumasi has significantly increased market revenues (by 48 percent in one month) by signing a social contract with a group of women locally known as ‘market queens’. In exchange for better sanitation facilities and street lighting, which ensures an overall safer environment in which to conduct their business, these women help with the revenue collection of market fees. The large harbur city of Tema was helped to develop plans for a phased transition from outsourcing their tax collection (at a cost of 30 percent of total tax revenues) to one that is handled internally. In Sekondi Takoradi we assisted in developing a mass communication campaign to make citizens aware of the relation between paying taxes and improved basic services.

Consider Anthropology in Your Next Urban Design Project

When applied to today’s cities in a non-academic context, urban anthropology provides a kind of “outsider’s perspective” to the dominant fields of urban planning and design. An anthropologist’s brain is one that views the current age through the long arc of humanity; they see the comparison between the best and worst of the human condition, and can balance human needs with human desire accordingly. This leads to an acceptance (and appreciation) of cultural contexts, with communication and co-creation at its core.

Targeted Urban Economic Growth Will Improve the Economy

What is it about cities that makes them so influential, and what makes some urban centers grow faster than others? If we find that out, we can identify the best strategies for investing in our cities. Professor Mario Polèse has proposed five urban economics principles that affect a city’s outcomes.

Urban Planning in 3D: How Creating a Digital Twin Leads to Smarter Cities

“The ancients built Valdrada on the shores of a lake, with houses all verandas one above the other, and high streets whose railed parapets look out over the water. Thus the traveler, arriving, sees two cities: one erect above the lake, and the other reflected, upside down. Nothing exists or happens in the one Valdrada that the other Valdrada does not repeat, because the city was so constructed that its every point would be reflected in its mirror”
– Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Opportunity with Dignity: Lessons from Multiculturalism in Toronto

Enthusiastic praise for Toronto’s successful transformation from “America’s Belfast” to one of the world’s most successful multicultural cities is rightly celebrated. However, praise should not obscure some of the very real limits to multicultural comity that have emerged with the passage of time. Two structural challenges – those of race and inequality – deserve attention.

Understanding the Soul Of A City

Even as smart city engineers, we too easily pass over thinking of the city as a complex of systems and narrow our view to some simpler, though still complicated, system that we can study in isolation. But cities do not function simply as a collection of parts. They function through the ways in which their citizens and other actors organize and connect these parts into personal and civic systems through which they can live their lives. Actors both exploit and contribute to the soul of the city. If we understood how they do this, we might then apply our skills and technologies to making cities  “better,” although, as Jacob Bronowski liked to point out, “first you have to tell me what ‘better’ means.”

Scaling Smart Cities Through Consistent Performance Measurement

Imagine that cities could be performing at the highest possible levels, and striving to act as global models for other cities. Cities can lead in prioritizing and enhancing human health, while saving energy, water and waste. Cities can be powered by clean and reliable energy, while teaching children in in a green school buildings. Cities can be affordable for even the poorest. We see that future within reach, with consistent and clear performance measurement as the path that will lead the way.

Making Sure that Smart Cities Work for Citizens

When it comes to smart city services and benefits, consumers will naturally respond favorably to suggested improvements without considering the financial implications. Given limited resources, it’s important to highlight the potential tradeoffs that might be involved. CompTIA’s study presented several tradeoff scenarios to those taking the survey: 39 percent of consumers say they would probably be willing to shift budget from city staff raises, but only 31 percent would be willing to shift budget from high school athletic facilities, and just 27 percent would be willing to shift budget from new police or fire vehicles. Understanding acceptable budgetary tradeoffs will help elected officials prioritize investments.

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