Meeting of the Minds took a few moments to talk with Herrie Schalekamp about new working relationships between researchers and paratransit operators in South Africa and beyond. Herrie is the ACET Research Officer at the University of Cape Town’s Centre for Transport Studies. In addition to his research, teaching and consulting in the fields of paratransit and public transport reform he is involved in specialised educational programmes for paratransit operators and government officials. Herrie’s activities form part of a broader endeavour to investigate and contribute to improved public transport operations and regulation in Sub-Saharan African cities under ACET – the African Centre of Excellence for Studies in Public and Non-motorised Transport.
SmartPlanet Coverage of Meeting of the Minds 2012
SmartPlanet’s Rachel King continued her excellent coverage of Meeting of the Minds 2012 this week with two articles focused on Colin Harrison and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.
‘Smart’ cities organize services around needs
The digital and physical worlds are converging, enabling us to leverage information to develop new insights and wisdom, according to IBM engineer Dr. Colin Harrison.
Speaking at Meeting of the Minds 2012 on Wednesday morning, Harrison covered the basic set of principles behind IBM’s Intelligent Operations Center and portfolio of solutions designed to enable smarter cities and intelligent systems for public safety, utilities, transportation, social programs and venues.
In explaining the genesis behind the Smarter Planet initiative at IBM, Harrison cited that the world has produced the following during the last 20 years:
- A global, high-bandwidth network
- A population of over 1 billion Internet users
- Roughly 4 billion mobile phones
- Billions of embedded sensors in infrastructures and environment
- Globally-integrated business processes
Harrison posited that it is no longer necessary to make guesses about what is happening today or what might happen tomorrow because we have the data and the planet is wired for that data.Read the full article
Vancouver mayor: Cities are ‘most entrepreneurial level of government’
Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson asserts that his city’s economy will be the fastest growing of any city in Canada, adding that defies the myth that you can’t be green and prosperous at the same time.
“Our goal is to be a mecca for green enterprise. We’re not alone in that,” asserted Robertson, while speaking at Meeting of the Minds 2012 on Wednesday afternoon, adding that the British Columbia city has “an enormous amount of expertise” to offer.
For example, Robertson cited that Vancouver has a hydroelectric power infrastructure, making 90 percent of electricity produced green and renewable.
Robertson described that Vancouver, the third-largest metropolitan area in Canada, is constrained by land between the North Shore Mountains, the Pacific Ocean and the U.S.-Canadian border. Thus, as the city grows exponentially, that requires some creative thinking about how to sustain that growth without wasting and running out of resources.
“Cities are all about action. We are the most entrepreneurial level of government,” Robertson remarked.Read the full article
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Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology
Brownfields are sites that are vacant or underutilized due to environmental contamination, real or imagined. There are brownfields of some kind in virtually every city and town in the U.S., usually related to a gas station, dry cleaner, auto repair shop, car dealership or some other ubiquitous local business that once benefited the community it now burdens with environmental hazards or old buildings.
In addressing this issue, technology has not been effectively deployed to promote redevelopment of these sites and catalyze community revitalization. We find that the question around the use of technology and data in advancing the redevelopment of brownfields is twofold:
How can current and future technology advancements be applied to upgrade existing brownfield modeling tools? And then, how can those modeling tools be used to accelerate transformative, sustainable, and smart redevelopment and community revitalization?
Across the country, urban parks are enjoying a renaissance. Dozens of new parks are being built or restored and cities are being creative about how and where they are located. Space under highways, on old rail infrastructure, reclaimed industrial waterfronts or even landfills are all in play as development pressure on urban land grows along with outdoor recreation needs.
These innovative parks are helping cities face common challenges, from demographic shifts, to global competitiveness to changing climate conditions. Mayors and other city officials are taking a fresh look at parks to improve overall community health and sense of place, strengthen local economies by attracting new investments and creating jobs, help manage storm water run-off, improve air quality, and much more. When we think of city parks holistically, accounting for their full role in communities, they become some of the smartest investments we can make.