In recent years, a variety of forces (economic, environmental, and social) have quickly given rise to “shared mobility,” a collective of entrepreneurs and consumers leveraging technology to share transportation resources, save money, and generate capital. Bikesharing services, such as BCycle, and business-to-consumer carsharing services, such as Zipcar, have become part of a sociodemographic trend that has pushed shared mobility from the fringe to the mainstream. The role of shared mobility in the broader landscape of urban mobility has become a frequent topic of discussion. Shared transportation modes—such as bikesharing, carsharing, ridesharing, ridesourcing/transportation network companies (TNCs), and microtransit—are changing how people travel and are having a transformative effect on smart cities.
Top 5 Reasons to Know Your City!
Cities of all sizes are growing and transforming; in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia alone, the urban populations are expected to double over the next 20 years.
Despite major advances in technology, there is little reliable data and recognition on how these urban areas are growing and changing — who lives in the city, where they came from, where they live, and how they earn a living.
This is especially true for informal neighbourhoods, where the vast majority of urban growth is taking place, and which are often completely off the grid of formal planning and governance processes.
A better knowledge of cities can help bridge the engagement, information and accountability gaps between city governments and their citizens. It can also support good governance and inclusive planning. Here are some of the ways cities and citizens can benefit from Knowing Their City:
- More effective city planning. Without knowing how many people live in a city and where, it is very difficult for a city to provide services or plan for future growth. Once mayors or city officials have accurate data on the entire city – not just the formal areas – they can make more informed policy choices, such as where to provide services, housing and infrastructure so that residents benefit most.
- A more inclusive city. Because the urban poor generally live in informal areas, they are often excluded from the formal governance and planning process and effectively locked out of the city’s economic growth. Once the poor are counted and acknowledged by city officials, a debate can take place about the city’s future involving all residents so that everyone can benefit from the city’s growth.
- Better governance and accountability. When residents are counted and recognised as part of the city and as citizens, they can have a voice and participate to the future of their city. They also have the capacity to hold city officials accountable for the progress in their neighbourhoods and push for more transparent and participatory decision making and planning.
- Dialogue between city officials and residents. When communities of the urban poor collect data about their own neighbourhoods in partnership with their local and national governments, they develop a constructive dialogue based on collaboration that allows both parties to work together to develop the city. City authorities begin to learn what their residents’ priorities are, and the citizens learn how to work with city officials to improve their communities.
- Empowered urban poor. The process of collecting information on their own communities helps the poor mobilise and obtain the necessary tools to interact effectively with local authorities. Once they have acquired the data on their neighbourhoods, residents can create forums to discuss the issues affecting them, develop a community participatory plan for resolving those issues, and how to obtain funding for their community projects.
The Cities Alliance is a global partnership for urban poverty reduction and the promotion of the role of cities in sustainable development. Learn more about us at www.citiesalliance.org.
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Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology
A study by the US National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in 2008 found that the impact of routine weather events on the US economy equates annually to about 3.4% of the country’s GDP (about $485 billion). This excludes the impact of extreme weather events that cause damage and disruption – after all, even “ordinary” weather affects supply of and demand for many items, and the propensity of businesses and consumers to buy them. NCAR found that mining and agriculture are particularly sensitive to weather influences, with utilities and retail not far behind.
Many of these, disaster management included, are the focus of smart city innovations. Not surprisingly, therefore, as they seek to improve and optimize these systems, smart cities are beginning to understand the connection between weather and many of their goals. A number of vendors (for example, IBM, Schneider Electric, and others) now offer weather data-driven services focused specifically on smart city interests.
Urban Planning Today: Perception vs. Reality When the planning profession was still nascent in the 1950’s, well defined social needs and the desire to improve poor living conditions were the dominant basis for policy and regulation. By the time the 1970’s and 80’s...