Society

A broad category of content focused on societal issues in cities.

Examples: health, community, social equity, education, arts & culture, and homelessness.

MetroLab’s 10 Principles for Government + University Partnerships

Using tools like algorithms and sensors, smart cities increase the quality of life for their residents, by making these communities cleaner, safer and healthier. When done thoughtfully smart cities efforts can also strive to make cities more inclusive and equitable. At the end of the day, it’s all about the people who live in these communities and making their interactions with city and/or county services easier and better.

Climate Change is Challenging Historic Assumptions for Urban Resilience

Climate change impacts can be a confusing and complicated topic. What are vulnerabilities, when should we be concerned, how much is it going to cost? While all of these are critical questions, the protection of communities can start with one question:

Is our community protecting public health and safety by preparing for a future environment?

Preparing a community for climate resilience requires an understanding of future conditions, a strategy for adaptation, and a commitment to designing and building a community that values public health and safety.

Redefining Philanthropy for Urban Resilience

Building fairness and greater equity means ensuring all Torontonians have access to and can capitalize on the positive opportunities on offer in our city. To do so, we need to be thoughtful stewards of what makes our city an excellent place to live.

The “new” philanthropy, as I see it, needs to play a role in getting us there. The new philanthropy is participatory. It thinks about and changes the distribution of power. It amplifies the voices of those with “living experience” of the challenges it aims to alleviate. It sets the kind of table where all can have a seat and share, in spite of the different perspectives that are on the menu. It aims to move the money equitably and disrupt giving patterns.

A Comparison of the World’s 1,000 Largest Urban Areas

In recent years, the world’s urban population has exceeded the rural population for the first time. Yet to read some reports, one could get the impression that the typical urban resident lives in one of the largest cities, like Manila, Shanghai, London, or Seoul. In fact, the megacities have only 8.4 percent of the world’s population. Nearly twice that number live in urban areas with fewer than 100,000 residents (Figure 2). In the US, any settlement with a population of 2,500 is considered an urban area.

6 Principles for Creating Walkable Spaces

It may sound like a no brainer, but nailing down the data is the foundation for getting buy-in for tackling next step actions and critical strategy for reducing speeds and putting people first. A sound analysis sets the stage for addressing outdated policies and road design, and allows for consideration of tackling the most equitable projects first.

Equity is Essential to Building a Healthy City

We, the people are a city’s greatest asset. We drive economies, pass laws, volunteer in the community, and come together in times of strife and celebration. But what happens when—by design—some of our neighbors and friends are unable to access or participate in...

Overcoming the Inequity of EV Ownership in Maryland

We found that EV owners are white (85%), male (75%), well educated, affluent (80% >$100,000 household income), older, urban/suburban oriented, and environmentally conscious; they charge at home and use the EV to commute to work (similar to findings in other areas of the country). “Environmental concerns” is the most important factor for purchasing and driving an EV; “price and status” is the second most important factor; “efficiency and performance” of the EV is the third most important. EV owners with lower household income (<$100,000), the remaining 20%, are younger, exurban/rural oriented, and concerned about price and status of the EV. Government at state and federal levels has been subsidizing mostly affluent households to purchase new EVs, which opens up a huge equity issue.

Downtown Revitalization Efforts Create a Market for Contractors

A recent study by the International Downtown Association reports that vibrant downtowns contain around 3% of citywide land, but contain 14% of all citywide retail and food and beverage businesses, and 35% of all hotel rooms. This results in $53 million in sales tax per square mile, compared to the citywide average of $5 million. Not to mention that downtown residential buildings also add to the tax base. In the 24 cities included in the study, residential growth in these downtowns outpaced the rest of the city by 400% between 2010 and 2016.

Partnerships between city officials and contractors result in new and visionary downtown destinations. Along with large vertical construction projects, there are opportunities for countless other projects, including parking structures, enhanced Wi-Fi, landscaping, pedestrian and biking paths, and traffic improvements.

The Future of Cities

Ordered city geometry that is built today is meaningless for energy cycles. Resilient networks contain inherent diversity and redundancy, with optimal cooperation among their subsystems, yet they avoid optimization (maximum efficiency) for any single process. They require continuous input of energy in order to function, with energy cycles running simultaneously on many different scales.

Short-term urban fixes only wish to perpetuate the extractive model of cities, not to correct its underlying long-term fragility!

3 Guidelines for Prioritizing Healthy Communities in Urban Planning

Upstream intervention, a widely known public health concept, is the idea of taking preventive actions that would steer away from potential detrimental health effects such as chronic diseases, injuries, and premature death. To put it in simple terms, all things being equal, staying physically active, eating healthy foods, drinking clean water and breathing clean air, can prevent a whole host of chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma, heart and lung diseases and cancer. Upstream intervention can be expressed as enacting policies to ensure access to a clean and complete environment of health.

Economic Inclusion is the Key to Detroit’s Revitalization

Understanding the share of middle-class households in a city is the first step to evaluating the economic opportunity in that city. Middle-class households can determine tax base, education-spending, and the stability of its neighborhoods. Unfortunately, Detroit has the lowest share of middle-class households of the 50 largest cities in the country. More importantly, Detroit’s 25 percent middle-class share compares with the region’s share of 38 percent. It would require 33,800 new middle-class households to create parity with the region, and 27,700 of those households would need to African American for Detroit to grow equitably.

5 Ways Multi-Use Trail Systems Transform Communities

Building healthy places for healthy people is embedded in Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s mission. More than 60 percent of people in the US fail to get the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity each week, and 25 percent are completely inactive. Millions of Americans use trails to become more active and the low-stress, traffic-free environment entices people of all ages and abilities. Safe places to walk or ride are a critical option given rising pedestrian and bicycle fatalities and serious injuries.